Orchard Mile, the start-up online marketplace for designer and contemporary collections, has covered a lot of distance in a short time.
Launched in October 2015, New York-based Orchard Mile is implementing growth initiatives to expand its reach and strengthen customer bonds, including “My Mile” personalization launching today, and in about two weeks, beauty brands and a partnership with the MineMine Kids, another online marketplace specializing in “all things kids.” It was launched by Ginny Hershey-Lambert, former Bergdorf Goodman executive vice president, and Carolyn McCall.
In an interview last week, two of the three cofounders — creative director Julia Wetherell LeClair and chief executive officer Jennie Baik — told WWD that Orchard Mile has 120 brands on the site, compared to launching with 30 brands.
“We are choosing very selectively,” assured Wetherell LeClair, by not deviating from designer or contemporary labels. No brands have taken themselves off the site, though there have been a few that went out of business, she added.
The executives also said Orchard Mile has a $400 average cart size, between 15 and 20 percent of its traffic is international, and revenues are growing 20 percent compounded monthly, and to not assume that rate of growth is coming off a low base. They declined to specify volume generated so far.
“The personalization for our marketplace is not just an ancillary benefit. It’s mission critical,” said Baik. “The digital age has allowed consumers to access more product than ever before. There’s an endless aisle that consumers are faced meaning there’s more frequent and complex decision-making.” But personalization, she emphasized, reduces the stress factor or “choice paralysis” associated with too much product in your face.
The Orchard Mile executives see it as a case of less is more, and cite a 2000 study by Columbia University psychologist Sheena Iyengar showing that while most people are attracted to larger displays of product, they are one-tenth as likely to purchase from a display that had four times as much product.
My Mile personalization is powered by a recommendation engine. Eventually, with usage over time, the homepage will only show shoppers brand information and products relevant to them and e-mails will be customized and selectively sent to their inbox and not quickly deleted. The more interactive the user is online, the more personalized the e-mail will be.
Among its features, My Mile can be viewed by brands and designers, by category, by sales, or by newest items being offered. My Mile gets updated in real time. It stores your sizes in apparel and footwear.
In addition, by creating “look-alike” groupings of consumers with their sales histories and other data aggregated, My Mile, the executives said, is “more predictive” than having suggesting selling based on a single user’s behavior.
According to the executives, Orchard Mile tracks hundreds of data points along each customer’s journey on the site, and has more extensive information on shoppers’ journeys across multiple brands. Baik called Orchard Mile “a treasure trove of data,” adding, “We are investing in data gathering and the technology behind that.” Predictive analysis she characterized as “the holy grail of fashion.”
In addition, Orchard Mile in a couple of weeks will add beauty with “premiere” brands to its offering as well as kids via MineMine Kids. Executives said it was too soon to indicate which beauty brands will be participating. Down the road, men’s wear and home will be considered, the executives added.
While broadening the offering, Baik said the focus is “two primary activities, building technology and acquiring and retaining new clients. It’s really about optimizing the customer experience both digitally and through customer service.”
Orchard Mile doesn’t own any inventory or fulfill orders, though it advises brands on different matters based on feedback from customers. “We help to bridge the gap in terms of communication, advise brands, don’t dictate. We’re a hub for advice how to better fulfill,” Baik said.