LONDON — Farfetch has been wooing U.K. retail brands one after another, and the latest major name to hear its siren call is Harrods.
On Tuesday, Farfetch and Harrods will announce a strategic partnership that will see the former provide Harrods with a global e-commerce platform through Farfetch Black & White Solutions, the tech giant’s white label company that builds multichannel e-commerce platforms for luxury retailers.
The companies said the aim is to create a state-of-the-art global, online destination for the department store. The partnership will see Harrods use the core components of Farfetch Black & White, including e-commerce management, operations support, international logistics support, and technical support.
Harrods will continue to operate and manage trading on the site, including marketing, brand relationship and product strategy, all creative and editorial content, and customer services. The enhanced Harrods site will be operational from 2020.
Michael Ward, Harrods’ managing director, said the store has been investing “relentlessly” in delivering a top-flight level of service across the business.
“Partnering with Farfetch Black & White Solutions allows Harrods to work with the market leader in e-commerce technology to deliver a seamless service online, which will continue to feel instantly and unmistakably Harrods. Our shared objective with Farfetch Black & White Solutions is to ensure that Harrods’ digital customers receive the same exemplary service as those who visit us in-store,” he said.
Harrods added that the new partnership will provide its customers with a broader product offer, improve stock availability online and create a faster delivery network, “while retaining a web site that is unmistakably Harrods.”
José Neves, founder, chief executive officer and co-chairman, Farfetch said that Farfetch’s experience of building platform technology for luxury brands “means that Harrods’ online offer will be every bit as exciting as the in-store experience.”
Kelly Kowal, managing director, Farfetch Black & White Solutions said Farfetch will leverage “all of our experience in managing technical and logistical complexity for luxury brand partners to deliver everything required to achieve the best digital luxury experience for Harrods’ customers.”
Harrods is the latest retail brand to hop aboard Farfetch, which has been forging ad hoc partnerships with European brands including Burberry, Harvey Nichols and Chanel.
In early 2018 Burberry inked a partnership with Farfetch, giving the tech company access to 100 percent of Burberry inventory. The deal has given Burberry’s sales partners previously unavailable levels of depth, flexibility and a transparent view of the brand’s inventory.
It also allowed Burberry to boost its geographic reach: Previously, Burberry.com has shipped to around 45 countries, and now it reaches more than 150 countries, the company confirmed last November during its 2018-19 interim results presentation.
A few months after teaming with Burberry, Farfetch formed a partnership with Harvey Nichols, in a first for both companies.
The global, multiyear e-commerce partnership, which launched in the second half of 2018, allows customers worldwide to shop Harvey Nichols, with the retailer able to tap into Farfetch’s e-commerce and logistics platform and offer services such as in-store return and same-day delivery.
At the time, Neves said the deal marked the debut of a department store strategy for Farfetch, and that he and his team were already talking to other stores in various parts of the globe. The conversations, he said, were going on in multiple countries and geographies.
“Department stores are amazing curators of fashion, and our mission is to be the platform for the best creators and curators, so it was always part of our evolution to selectively bring them on board,” he said last year when the Harvey Nichols deal was announced.
(There is a fundamental difference between the Harrods and Harvey Nichols partnerships with Farfetch. Harvey Nichols products are also available on the Farfetch Marketplace, while Harrods products will only be available on the Harrods site.)
In 2018, Farfetch also struck up a partnership with Chanel. The French brand took a stake in Farfetch and said it wanted to partner with the platform to deliver a better and more targeted customer experience.
Neves said the aim was to transform the Chanel retail experience for customers, in particular the digitally driven Millennials. Their multiyear, exclusive partnership involves investment from Chanel and Farfetch while the digital solutions Farfetch is developing for Chanel will be fully customized.
Farfetch’s goal with all of these deals is to become the online engine for luxury brands and a tech platform for the fashion industry.
Following the brand’s ultra-successful IPO last September on the New York Stock Exchange, Neves drove home that point, saying, “There is a strong culture here of values, and our mission is to be a positive force for fashion, and that’s not going to change. We love fashion, we love this industry and we see ourselves as partners for the brands.”
E-commerce entrepreneur and investor Natalie Massenet, who is non-executive co-chairman of Farfetch, described the platform as a brand enabler. “Farfetch doesn’t hold inventory, it powers the brands’ inventory” and enables their communication strategies.