NEW YORK — Moda Operandi’s getting a sleeker new look — and has some big ambitions to go along with it.
This story first appeared in the April 13, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Today, the e-commerce company will roll out the new version of its site — the first part of a multipronged expansion. Bridal will get its own home on the site in May, an area dedicated to “high luxury” will launch in the third quarter and a stylist platform will debut early next year.
“We have raised enough capital, and we have a strong balance sheet that will take us to profitability,” chief executive officer Deborah Nicodemus said last week at Moda Operandi’s headquarters on Hudson Street here. Nicodemus, cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo and chief technology officer Keiron McCammon gave WWD an exclusive preview of the new modaoperandi.com.
The site intertwines highly produced editorial content and commerce at every turn. Product pages are peppered with runway shots, fully styled looks and videos to give the consumer inspiration while they browse.
Moda’s expecting big returns from its latest efforts.
According to industry sources, the company plans on turning a profit in 2017, six years after its launch. In the scope of e-commerce companies that have popped up over the past several years — where some sites aren’t profitable after two decades — it’s a growth rate that appears relatively healthy.
Nicodemus projects more than $100 million in sales next year, coming out of 2014 with close to $50 million in revenue. If all goes according to plan, Nicodemus said the site is on target to hit $500 million in sales in 2021. She noted that both sides of the business — the core trunk shows and the in-season boutique — are on target to grow 60 percent this year. The staff of more than 100 will increase by 30 percent this year, and the marketing team, headed by new chief marketing officer Eric Hennings, will double.
Moda has raised over $130 million to date. The latest Series E round brought in $60 million in February. With the most recent funding, investors, including Fidelity and New Enterprise Associates, put the valuation of the company at $330 million.
But Moda is still valued at significantly less than other high-flying e-commerce ventures. Farfetch and Warby Parker are said to be valued at $1 billion each, with the soon-to-go-public marketplace Etsy at $2 billion. Rent the Runway raised $60 million at the end of last year.
The Moda site is the product of extensive interviews with the global luxury brands and clients over the past year. Nicodemus and the team were able to identify the shortcomings of the current site, which has hardly changed since Moda inception in 2011.
The most common gripe heard from fashion houses was that the site felt like a grid system, almost akin to “visiting Amazon or Fresh Direct,” and McCammon and an in-house team of 16 spent most of 2014 retooling the site’s front to back ends. A new vice president of data analytics, Andy Cho, joined the team, and the company plans to put together a data science team.
A presale functionality for the in-season boutique section of the site will go live next week, a result of customer demand. Now, six weeks before an item reaches the boutique, customers will have the option of pre-ordering it to ensure they nab their size as soon as it hits the warehouse (which will soon move from the company headquarters to Brooklyn). This option will have product in consumers’ hands in six weeks, versus the three- to six-month wait time for trunk-show orders.
Bridal will launch early in May with four to six brands as a test, a result of data gathered from last year’s sale of dresses that retail for $10,000 and up. Nicodemus said of the 10 best-selling dresses, eight of 10 were white. This, and the fact that dresses comprise 35 percent of the company’s sales, made bridal the obvious next category.
As for “High Luxury,” it’s hard to imagine what exactly this might look like for a site whose average order value exceeds $2,000 (a $50,000 fur coat was sold via iPhone in November). Nicodemus was mum about which brands will live in this section, but she said High Luxury will cater to fashion houses that “have no presence online.” The specific brands will be released closer to the launch in the third quarter of the year.