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BrandAlley to woo brands with free consumer data

Off-price etailer BrandAlley is to share consumer insight data with brands for free to help it combat the shortage of off-price product.

In an exclusive interview with Drapers, UK chief executive Rob Feldmann said the supply of off-price product had shrunk by about 30% in the past year because brands were being more cautious about holding stock, and that BrandAlley was launching a range of initiatives to make it “indispensable” to brands with surplus stock, “so they go nowhere else”.

Next week it will launch Le Lab in the UK, which will allow brands to gather online feedback on product at the early stages of development from some 2 million BrandAlley members. This should help inform buying decisions and minimise risk.

BrandAlley has already started sending targeted marketing emails to its customers on behalf of brands, and sharing key information with unnamed brands looking to open new stores, such as how many customers in a particular area have purchased the brand on BrandAlley.

Feldmann said BrandAlley had no plans to charge for the information and that it instead wanted to encourage brands to think of the etailer as a “partner” so it could have first option on off-price product that comes to market.

Earlier this week, US off-price retailer Loehmann’s was reported to have defaulted on its interest repayments partly because it could not secure enough stock.

TJX Companies, the parent of off-price retailer TK Maxx, has previously denied widespread reports that the shortage of off-price goods had strangled sales, leading to a slump in profits from £15.8m to £1.3m in the 13 weeks to July 31.

Separately, BrandAlley also plans to invite customers to take a stake in emerging designers’ new collections in return for a profit share. In an echo of music publishers Slicethepie and Sellaband, BrandAlley will showcase sketches from designers’ planned collections on its site and invite shoppers to invest in their production.

The designer will take 50% of the profit from future sales, with the remainder shared between stakeholders.

BrandAlley, which launched in 2005, is 50% owned by News International, publisher of The Sunday Times and News of the World.

The Drapers Interview

Vente-privee’s u-turn has done a u-turn on its strategy to buy product on a territory-by-territory basis, and will instead leverage its scale to strike international deals.

The off-price etailer will continue to operate the London office it opened about a year ago but its buyers will be sourcing product from UK-based brands to sell in overseas territories as well as the UK.

It will still observe international laws and licensing agreements that prevent, for example, product intended for US distribution from being sold on to distributors in Europe, but will use its international clout to secure better deals.

UK sales manager Bunty Stokes told Drapers: “We want to give brands access to our 11 million customers [worldwide] rather than 433,000 customers in the UK.”

Vente-privee operates in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy and is set to launch in two more European territories before the end of the year.

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