E-tailer Showpo is profitable and hopes to get to 100 million Australian dollars, or $75 million, in sales by 2020. Now the Australia-based company is going after the U.S. market, where it has been quietly operating, but is looking to ramp up efforts.
Showpo already ships to U.S. customers, but it isn’t until now that it’s looking to build out the infrastructure to support growing the business with a recently opened distribution center in Carson, Calif., and plans to boost social media marketing. It also has plans to have at least three buyers based out of the U.S. by the end of the year. The goal, chief executive officer and founder Jane Lu said, is to be selling as much to the U.S. as it does in Australia by the end of the year and by next year, the company hopes to have the U.S. become its top market.
Lu sees a place for Showpo in the U.S. with the company an interesting mix of Nasty Gal prior to that online store’s shift to higher-priced merchandise and a more affordable version of Revolve, the ceo said. Other companies that could be considered close competitors include Lulu’s, Boohoo or Forever 21, she added.
“I think we have amazing range and we have amazing products,” Lu said — not immodestly — of how Showpo aims to be different in the market.
The fact that the company’s buying for the U.S. market means it has season-appropriate product, with about 100 pieces being released weekly, a count that is expected to grow.
“One of the biggest focuses of our growth is to expand our range,” Lu said. I think girls these days…everyone’s a chameleon. You’re not just boho. You’re not just street or urban. You can be all of these. You dress based on your mood and where you’re going.”
The company, as with many e-commerce players, has built a brand with the help of influencers and generating content at major events such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Lu and Showpo’s story is an interesting one. The company, launched in 2010 out of a garage, has been self-funded. Lu said the company has also been profitable since Day One, arguing that without the safety net of outside funding, there was no option other than to be profitable from the start. That’s a key point now that the founder is focused on maintaining.
“We want to prove that can be done,” she said of growth without taking on external funding. “I want to prove these start-up cliches…that mentality is wrong. You can do it [without outside funding]. It is possible.”
Lu initially worked in accounting and corporate finance. However, a nine-month-long trip gave her the push to leave behind an office setting. She partnered with a friend on a business running pop-up stores in underutilized locations. The idea, she said in retrospect, wasn’t a very good one and eventually went bust, leaving behind a load of debt. Her second bid at starting a business with Showpo has so far seen more success. She dabbled in brick-and-mortar with three locations in the beginning, but ultimately sold off those stores in favor of focusing entirely on e-commerce.
The company counts a workforce of nearly 40, mostly in Australia, which is up from 14 last year. U.S. sales have more than doubled since last year, according to Lu, which she attributed to increased marketing.
“What we have in Australia is that we’ve become a household name,” she said, adding her goal is to have that be the case next year in the U.S.
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