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Did Miinto have a future?

Miinto announced last it week it was pulling out of the UK and Ireland. Ruth Faulkner asks whether it should have given the market more of a chance.

When Miinto launched in the UK just under a year ago, it had just 33 boutiques on board. By January this year, this number had risen to almost 180 - a sure sign, if one was needed, that the business model was working.

And it wasn’t just the number of boutiques that Miinto had signed up, but the quality that was impressive.

One of the first stores to sign up was the 2013 Inspiring Indie winner, The Dressing Room. Owner Deryane Tadd already operated a very successful website of her own before signing up to Miinto but did so anyway because she saw it as another revenue stream for her business, and she wasn’t alone.

So the news last week that Miinto was pulling out of the UK came as a disappointment to many in the industry, who are left wondering whether they will be able to find an alternative channel. At a time when multichannel selling is the mantra, to have one of those key platforms pulled out from under you has left several retailers facing a shortfall in forecast revenues.

Miinto said the reason it couldn’t continue in the UK market was because it failed to secure the necessary funding to make the model work here but I am certainly not alone in thinking that perhaps they have cut their losses far too early.

The platform didn’t even make it to its first anniversary before it shut down, leaving many retailers with the view, that Miinto’s owners didn’t give it enough of a chance here.

One indie told me: “Our sales on Miinto were really starting to pick up and I am sure that was the same for other people too. I think it has been cut off before it really had the opportunity to achieve its full potential.”

However not all felt the business had deployed the right strategy here. One ecommerce expert told me that he believed the business model never would have worked in its existing state and the UK strategy was fundamentally flawed.

“They relied far too heavily on pay per click advertising and didn’t do enough to rank through natural search,” he said. “What might have worked for them quite successfully in their home markets, wouldn’t necessarily work in the UK because the competition online here is so much stronger.”

Chief executive Morten Larsen says he plans to return to the UK further down the line - as early as next year if he is able to secure the finances - although by then other competitors will no doubt have looked to fill the Miinto-shaped hole in the market.

And before he attempts to win back the indies whose goodwill has surely been lost by this volte face, he will first need to ensure the business model is adapted to the UK and its highly competitive market.

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