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Targeting an international clientele from their Munich specialty store allowed Christoph and Susanne Botschen to parlay their discerning eye and elite stable of brands into an online retail phenomenon, Mytheresea.com.
Having cultivated “deep and good relations” with vendors including Prada, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten and Givenchy, Susanne Botschen, cofounder and head of buying, reached a point in 2006 when the business was ripe for expansion.
“They had a big trust in us, even if we were coming from little Munich,” she said of her hometown, population 1.4 million. “We always had the feeling that why should a woman in New York or in Hong Kong want something different than someone from Munich. And we’ve always had a lot of tourists coming to Munich, so we never really paid attention to what someone local from Munich would want, but always that vision of going international.”
Rather than open a second location, Christoph Botschen suggested an online foray. “I always told my husband, that was his best idea — after marrying me,” Susanne Botschen said, to a round of chuckles from the audience.
The couple started from scratch with the Internet venture.
“We are not IT specialists, not at all,” Christoph Botschen said. “But you find these people and you have to educate these people in our way of thinking.…The IT people, the logistics people and the p.r. and h.r., so everyone is getting into our view of the world, our vision.”
He credited direct control over the entire process, barring the delivery of the parcels, for the company’s progress. “There’s a lot of work behind [the scenes] to get the product, the right product, the curated product, to the right people in Hong Kong or wherever. And this also has a lot to do with German efficiency.”
He noted the company now employs about 150 people, and plans to grow to 200 by the end of the year. This month, Mytheresa.com is opening a 107,600-square-foot warehouse near Munich.
Susanne Botschen said instinct largely guides her selection of designers, which range from newcomers like Peter Pilotto and Altuzarra to more established brands. “It’s all about what a woman wants; the edit, the selection,” she said, stressing the company had no plans to extend into men’s categories.
She did allow some regional tendencies, noting that Asian clients are crazy for small, colorful handbags, and that Middle Eastern clients have a penchant for gold shades.
Christoph Botschen said about 30 percent of revenues come from mobile devices. And while Mytheresa.com has an app, people prefer to go through its Web site as the perception is that apps are a condensed version of the merchandise available on the site, he noted.