BERLIN — Consumers aren’t the only group changing their shopping habits. While Internet marketplaces and platforms providing buyers with digital shopping access are gaining steam, young Berlin-based start-up Veee.com has significantly amped up and internationalized its offer.
In operation for two months, Veee.com offers retailers 24/7 access to more than 1,500 premium fashion brands worldwide on a platform that combines inspiration, storytelling and product search with a one-click order information request function.
Veee.com was founded by Thomas Lorenz, a 10-year veteran of the Premium Exhibitions Group, where he spearheaded the trade fair’s digital buyer programs, and tech expert Jeanny Wang.
The Premium Group has also taken a minority stake in the new platform. “We are an investor and strategic partner,” said Anita Tillmann, Premium founder and managing partner. “Veee.com is a building block to further accelerate the digital transformation of the industry going way beyond our physical trade fair.”
Veee is both free of the seasonal cycle, for it works on a daily basis, and is also free of charge for participating retailers and brands. The brands are vetted by an internal team ‘’of experts” and buyer qualifications are also checked internally.
For the launch, Lorenz and Wang teamed with an international lineup of leading retailers and fashion movers to appear in short profiles sharing inspiration and insight about their retail vision, practice or simply everyday life. They are buyers, noted Wang, “we want to feature not only because they cover all the segments but because of their passion. We give them a stage for what they do.”
There’s Christopher Lacy, director of customer experience and strategy at Barneys New York; Omomyemi Akarele, founder of Stylehouse Files in Lagos; Masako Kaufmann, buyer at United Arrows, Tokyo; Simone Calabro, buying director at Gibot, Rome; Mikhael Osipov, owner of ITK Brotherhood, Riga; Nuria Brussosa, owner of Brumosa, Barcelona, Greg Armas, owner of Assembly, Los Angeles, Riannon Foster-Orr, head of men’s wear global at Polly King, London, and a good baker’s dozen more.
How does it work? “As a member of the public, you can only see their (brands’) campaigns,” said Wang, “but as a qualified retailer, you can see the full brand profile with products and wholesale prices.” The retailer can browse editorials such as the insider profiles or thematic features, peruse brand pages, or search by classification or style. Clicking on a product of interest via any of these page views sends the item to the buyer’s cumulative shopping cart, which provides a full multibrand overview, and where sizes and amounts can be adjusted. The retailer then has to click just once, not brand by brand, and Veee automatically sends out order information requests to each company in a matter of minutes.
As brand X might not want to work with store Y, Lorenz pointed out, it is then up to each brand’s sales department to “pick up the opportunity. But the platform allows, a store in Tokyo, for example, to discover a new brand in Africa without risk. It massively increases the global reach of a brand,” he said.
Veee has attracted about 200,000 impressions since it launched in July, with a lot of hits from Asia, the U.S. and Africa, the founders said. The biggest surprise so far? “We’re surprised at how quickly we got brands to do this,” Wang said. Plus there’s been ample feedback suggesting retailers are really interested in knowing about the people behind the brand. “We want to provide brands ways to create that,” Wang said.
“Doing something digital is a hurdle per se for retailers and brands, and you have to ease them into it. Our partnership with Premium helps,” Lorenz added, and indeed Veee launched with a large number of Premium exhibitors. “But we’re seeing a lot of younger, smaller brands that produce between seasons putting stuff up.”
He emphasized that Veee is not just a niche platform. “We have the big brands, too, but it’s become really important and relevant to discover new stuff,” a challenge for both vendors and buyers. “There are all these little brands that don’t have the possibility to present in Asia, for example,” he said, whereas many buyers no longer have the time or budget to travel. “They only see a small scope, and there’ so much out there that will keep retailers alive and help them open up their portfolios.”
In regards to the other B2B web marketplaces already out there, “We’re generally all facing the same challenge, to bring fashion online, but we all do it differently,” Lorenz said. “Some offer software as a service to provide brands a way to process orders, or others are integrated into a brand group. Our goal is to provide the destination for retailers to discover brands in a new way. We’ve been global from Day One, and you can only offer a great experience for retailers if you have a huge offer,” he stated.
As for the brands, “it’s up to them to decide what to present. They have their own profile, can add their campaign, look book, merchandise in stock or future collections, all in simple Instagram style,” Lorenz went on. Besides keeping things simple, the key, he said, is that for labels unable to afford an analogue presence at trade fairs, fashion shows or showrooms, Veee provides a digital network with retailers round the world.