Christopher Colfer has been named non-executive director of AHALife Holdings Ltd.
In his advisory role, Colfer will provide luxury and e-commerce expertise to the company to help further its growth in the marketplace business model. He joined the board on Thursday.
Colfer is currently a consultant in Sydney, following a 23-year career holding various positions at Compagnie Financière Richemont. While there, he oversaw the repositioning of Alfred Dunhill Ltd. when he held the chief executive officer post from June 2005 to October 2012. At Richemont, he also oversaw the firm’s initial investment in fashion e-tailer Net-a-porter and later led its full acquisition in February 2010. During that time, he was the e-tailer’s longest-serving non-executive board member.
Colfer currently is also on the boards of fashion site Lyst, Nude by Nature, Huntsman & Sons and Crumpler.
AHA’s ceo Shauna Mei said the former ceo of Net-a-porter Mark Sebba introduced her to Colfer. Seba is an early angel investor in AHA.
Mei said the digital marketplace platform has close to 800,000 registered members. “The average, repeat customer is buying six times a year. Once they buy more than one time, they are extremely loyal. The trick is in finding the right customer to join,” she said.
According to Mei, the company receives about 100 applications a week globally from brands and designers wanting to join the platform.
Mei described the typical customer as a “conscious consumer” who wants a differentiated product of high quality that provides value,” noting that the balance between high quality and value doesn’t necessarily equate with high-price. “It could be an amazing gadget that they can’t get anyplace else,” the ceo said.
Colfer said he is interested in AHA’s model because it’s one that doesn’t hold inventory. “The biggest liability in a traditional e-commerce setup is stock. You need cash to buy stock. You need a warehouse to [hold it], and then there’s the whole logistical process of ordering including distribution centers,” he said.
Colfer said AHA’s model focusing on the selection of artisanal products provides the “yin and yang” balance of small creative individuals while leveraging the technology of AHA’s e-commerce platform. Colfer added that his experience in the luxury sector, as well as on the boards of Net-a-porter and Lyst, will help further AHA’s selection process to attract new members, while at the same time provide artisans the ability to reach consumers in a global marketplace.
AHA’s model uses a drop-ship approach, with wholesalers shipping directly to customers. The model is used by others in the e-tail sector, such as Buy.com, which was acquired by Japanese direct-to-consumer firm Rakuten. The Japanese company is also an investor in AHALife.