LONDON — As traditional retail models struggle, what will the shopping experience of the future look like?
Andreas Skorski, a Dubai-based entrepreneur behind the online marketplace The List, thinks he has an answer — and it involves instant access, one-of-a-kind products, dynamic pricing based on demand, and bringing back the thrill of the chase.
Today, The List will debut its first initial product offering, or “IPO,” and will continue to do so every day at 9.30 a.m., New York time. Each IPO will consist of the most in-demand or rare items across the fashion, accessories and fine jewelry categories — think Bottega Veneta boots, Amina Muaddi pumps, Cartier Santos watches and Hermès Birkins.
You could call it a new-generation Farfetch, with a similar marketplace model but a refreshed take on product curation and pricing.
Products will first be offered at standard retail prices, but will then go up or down depending on demand — turning shoppers into bidders, of sorts.
“It’s fun, in the end, because you can jump in and see how a trend is behaving, whether the price is going up or down and whether people like it or not. What you end up with is a great investment piece at a reasonable price or finally getting your hands on a piece you’ve always desired.” said Skorski.
This different way of shopping is more in line with consumers’ new priorities for timeless pieces and instant access — gone are the days of staying on a waiting list for a Birkin for years, or sleeping outside stores to get access to new sneaker drops.
“Consumers are going back to pieces they really see as investment pieces, and in the end we’ll give them the first access to them,” said Skorski, adding that over the last few months, following the COVID-19 outbreak, the platform’s audience has grown from mostly younger shoppers of 15 to 35 years to a wider group of 15- to 55-year-olds.
“When you have no other option, you go online. For us, acquiring a customer for the first time is critical, because once they’ve had a good first experience and understood how easy and convenient it is, it becomes a habit.”
The platform makes a point to bring together categories from across the board, from fine watches to New Balance sneakers, to reflect a more modern vision of luxury. It’s a mix most traditional retailers are yet to achieve, as premium brands such as Chanel and Hermès are yet to jump on the online bandwagon — yet with a network of personal shoppers, concierge companies and retailers themselves, The List is able to source all these products from across the world, and onboard them onto its platform.
“Luxury used to be more classical, because the customer used to be, on average, a bit older. But this has changed and now shoppers value more individuality, they love to combine pieces that are from different brands, at different price points and coming from very different places,” said Skorski.
“We might have a customer from Saudi Arabia, who bids on a really cool Nike sneaker from Japan and combines it with a Hermès Birkin bag. People need more freedom these days to choose what they want to mix together and who they want to be.”
The platform has proven to be an asset to brands, who are now looking to increase their online traction, as well as other retailers or personal shoppers who tend to have first dibs on these high-demand products.
What The List can offer them is the technology to pull products from their systems and upload all relevant details onto the platform automatically.
“We made the process faster and simpler because we use specific computer visual machine learning technology. We basically bring this network of people onto one platform and give them access to our entire operations. If you are a retailer, brand or a personal shopper, you don’t have to worry about shipping, duties, as we have automated the entire process, with taxes and duties included [in the initial purchase],” said Skorski, who coded the first version of The List in his living room, seeing the lack of access or the inflated pricing of luxury products in the Middle East.
The Middle East, a market where “high demand and low access” remains an issue, was the platform’s first key market. But it has since expanded into 35 new territories, with the U.S. gaining particular traction and more recently Asia becoming the company’s fastest growing market.
Its global, data-driven approach and commitment to providing easy access and dynamic price points to the most high-demand products in the market over more wide-ranging offerings could also help solve the industry’s issues with excess inventory and heavy discounting.
“The fashion market has one major problem and that’s oversupply. There is too much assortment in the market and everyone is trying to sell with a lot of marketing dollars, meaning the winners are Facebook and Google,” said Skorski, who further down the line plans to use The List’s data to help brand’s and retailer’s get real-time access to consumer behavior trends and be in a position to make better-informed, less wasteful buying decisions.
According to the entrepreneur, the company, which has offices in both Dubai and Lisbon, has raised a total of $3.3 million since its launch and will want to “probably open the door to some acceleration through further capital” in the future, too.