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My fashion life - Nathalie Gaveau

After netting nearly £147m with the sale of ecommerce platform PriceMinister.com, Gaveau is onto her next project - web and mobile social shopping app Shopcade.

Nathalie Gaveau

Nathalie Gaveau

What is Shopcade and what does it do for fashion retailers and brands?
Shopcade is a mobile shopping app. It’s like Amazon and Facebook fused together and injected with fashion. Users see photos of what celebrities, bloggers and other users wear, and new collections and trends from brands. They then have the option to shop the same style and suggested alternatives or save the items for later, even getting an alert when related items go on Sale. They can comment, share and upload what they like, making it a very real-time social environment.

Shopcade’s data advertising platform allows retailers and brands to generate both awareness and sales through targeted content - such as celebrities wearing their items, or looks created with Shopcade and its blogger partners.

The concept was born out of observing how modern audiences consume fashion online and positioning commerce around those behaviours. Two of the best-performing brands on Shopcade are Asos and Urban Outfitters, but brands such as Motel Rocks or Ipanema are gaining traction.

There are a lot of apps out there. How do you cut through the noise?
You need a clear differentiator and a competitive edge - it’s a two-pronged strategy. With social shopping a lot of apps focus on the same markets, mainly the US, the same demographics, usually 25- to 45-year-olds, the same type of brands, usually high-end fashion, and the same execution of providing a feed of products daily. So you need to basically spend loads of money just to out-market other competitors. On the contrary, we focused on young fashionistas, mostly 16- to 30-year-olds globally, with big and small consumer brands, and ensured we focus on shopping through content.

You just launched Shopcade in India. Why did you decide now is the right time?
After the UK and US, the third market downloading the app is India. Without Shopcade having launched or marketed to the region, a vast number of Indian brands and India-based bloggers were already actively engaged. India will launch with its own dedicated local fashion team focused on creating and curating daily content for audiences there. They will ensure the Indian feed is updated daily with celebrity and blogger styles, new collections and deals from brands. The content will be global - a good mix of international and local Indian trends.

How did you get to where you are today?
I got into the ecommerce space really quickly one year after I graduated with a Masters in Business Administration from HEC School of Management in Paris in 1999. A friend and I spotted the company [online marketplace] Half.com, which was acquired by eBay for $350m (£205.5m) in 2000. France didn’t have anything like that, and I was convinced it could exist. So in 2000 we set up an eBay-style site called PriceMinister.com.

You sold the business to Japanese ecommerce site Rakuten for $250m (£146.5m) in 2010. Was it hard saying goodbye?
It was a fascinating journey. It was difficult, because the start was really just after the dotcom bubble burst, but we managed to create a platform that was successful. However, we never really managed to go international. We were very focused on France and became the biggest platform [there]. Eventually, we grew to such a size we became attractive to businesses like Rakuten that were looking to expand internationally.

That’s quite a hefty price tag. How did you celebrate?
When you build a business over 10 years you have a lot of shareholders. So I just want to say it’s not all for me. But it was definitely a good sell, and Rakuten was a good company to sell to. So there was a celebration and I took a bit of a holiday, but I was already thinking about Shopcade. In my head I already thought Facebook was so big, and the whole world was becoming social. To me, it was clear there would be global companies that do retail from a social basis.

Who inspires you in the fashion ecommerce space?
Natalie Massenet [Net-A-Porter founder], without a doubt. She has a very strong vision. I really like Net-a-Porter and the way she understood service was so key to her customer. I think she has really pushed the whole fashion ecommerce industry to new levels.

Where do you like to shop?
I am a very eclectic shopper. I buy a lot online, and I obviously use Shopcade, through which I have discovered a lot of new brands. I can buy very expensive bags from Net-a-Porter and I love Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, but I also buy T-shirts from Topshop and other essentially high street items.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
My users. We interact with them a lot over the app, and we also arrange meet-ups with our bloggers. I look a lot at Instagram and Amazon, the big models that are becoming global models, and how they are doing things. And I look a lot at all of my data. So for example, I can see on my dashboard everything that is trending - the products, the brands, and all the content related to them.

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