A conversation with the Farfetch CEO on the future of e-commerce

The fashion industry has taken a major hit during the current global health crisis. And with nationwide store closures and very few people spending their income on clothing, we’ve seen industry leaders come together to help support small business and independent designers.

Farfetch, the luxury e-tailer that serves as a marketplace for third-party fashion brands and over 700 boutiques around the world, has curated a #SupportBoutiques initiative on its website. The mission of the initiative is to increase visibility of these boutiques’ stock and help them with logistics, marketing and operations.

In addition, Farfetch is offering shoppers 25 percent off and reducing the cost that small businesses pay to use its marketplace. This includes brands like Nanushka, Jacquemus, Sies Marjan and Off-White, the last of which Farfetch actually owns the licensing rights to.

We caught up with José Neves, Farfetch’s CEO and founder, to discuss the importance of supporting small brands and where he thinks the future of e-commerce is heading post-pandemic. Check out our conversation below. Plus, further ahead, shop some of our favorite styles that will help support these smaller boutiques.

ITK: Why is it important for people to support small fashion businesses right now?

José Neves: When you shop on Farfetch, your items arrive from one of 700+ boutiques in one of 50 countries around the world, or from the stores of our many brand partners, altogether representing over 3000 designers — mostly small and unique creators of fashion. The vast majority of these are small businesses (often family-run), many of whom right now cannot welcome customers into their physical stores.

Online is a vital lifeline for them at this time. We are doing all that we can to help all of our partners, but especially the smaller ones. 

Altogether, our community represents tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs around the world. It is a hugely important part of our economy and also our culture, something that we all love and want to save. Like all communities, it will be changed by current events, for better and worse. By supporting boutiques and designers, we can help see them through this immensely difficult time. In the meantime, I wish you all health and love, and I know that the world will get through this.

Why is it important for Farfetch to give these smaller brands a platform during this uncertain time?

The Farfetch community includes more than 1,200 sellers — approximately 700 are primarily small boutiques and approximately 500 are direct e-concessions from brands, some of which are major labels, but the majority of which are also small businesses. Our boutique partners are located across more than 50 countries, and in aggregate, support 3,400 designer brands.

In today’s environment, however, the majority of our boutiques cannot operate their physical shops, which is the right thing as the world navigates the very serious health implications of this pandemic, but could have a longer-term impact on the industry’s ecosystem.

Most of these boutiques are still permitted to fulfill online orders. Currently, for many of them, their revenues are principally derived from a single channel: Farfetch. As such, we have launched a comprehensive initiative called #SupportBoutiques to help these small businesses by:

  • Driving incremental volume to their products through prominent placement in our marketing messages, social media, homepage and visual merchandising — essentially driving customer engagement to the #SupportBoutiques cause, which has been very positively received
  • Lifting certain service-level obligations and lowering other fees involved in using our platform
  • When they cannot guarantee the safety of their staff, offering to move their inventory and fulfilling their orders from one of our Fulfilment by Farfetch facilities, and waiving our customary fees for such services
  • Providing assistance to them with guidelines and protective wear to ensure the safety of their employees

Where do you see the future of e-commerce heading post-pandemic?

One of the biggest changes I foresee is the behavioral shift to online purchasing continuing as shoppers remain hesitant to visit stores. In future years, digital transactions are expected to represent a significantly larger proportion of the overall luxury industry. With current retail store closures, travel restrictions and shifting consumer preference and shopping habits, I expect to see an acceleration of this secular shift to online.

Shop styles from the Farfetch #SupportBoutiques initiative below:

Shop: Nanushka Mog knit cashmere hoodie, $234 (Orig. $335)

Credit: Farfetch

Shop: Axel Arigato clean 90 sneakers, $163 (Orig. $218)

Credit: Farfetch

Shop: Jacquemus Le Panier Soleil raffia tote bag, $304 (Orig. $344)

Credit: Farfetch

Shop: GANNI Leopard Print Scrunchie, $18 (Orig. $20)

Credit: Farfetch

Shop: Eve Denim Charlotte Wide Leg Jeans, $233 (Orig, $310)

Credit: Farfetch

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