I’ve heard Howard Saunders from ECHO Chamber talk on several occasions, most recently at a retail conference in Melbourne. He’s now in New York working on the retail elements of the reinvigorated “Ground Zero” site being built with Westfield’s involvement.
Many times in the past few years I’ve heard him talk about innovative retailers “curating” and “displaying” products for shoppers. The idea is that good buyers seek out things that are relevant just to me, and then bring them to me to allow me to buy them: a very personal view of the relationship between a shopper and their favourite shop.
Howard has usually been showing examples of innovative traditional retailers, with high resolution photos of their stores, farms, factories, breweries, distilleries or whatever other physical elements in the supply chain, that make up their offering. But what about the purely online retailer? Can they, through a small or medium-sized screen, curate and display as well as a beautiful physical store?
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I had a call from a journalist to ask for my view on Australian start-up Temple & Webster. This innovative pure online retailer is a favourite of a close friend of mine, but a site I hadn’t yet visited. Having heard her rave about it, I went online and saw an example of “curation and display delivered with beautiful content management”. So what does all that marketing speak mean?
Well Temple & Webster has sourced a wide and eclectic range of well-designed items from Australia and farther afield. The range only hangs together because they are all items for our home, or restaurants, B&Bs, boutique hotels or offices. Or for our friends’ homes or offices as gifts.
I’ve used the phrase “agglomerator” many times to describe pure online plays. Agglomeration is defined as “a jumbled cluster or mass of varied parts”. These online retailers source many things from many different places for the convenience of like-minded online shoppers.
However, what marked Temple & Webster apart was just how beautifully displayed the items were and, how beautifully told the stories behind the designers and their wares were. Looking closer, it’s evident that their team includes professional writers and photographers. And it shows.
Temple & Webster has attracted 450,000 members in just two years and has five ‘sales events’ a day – beautifully presented, high-end products at great sale prices. The founders, who have blended their backgrounds of online retail and newspaper publishing, present the site like an online magazine – the difference being you can buy every beautiful item you see.
If you have a chance, log on and register for their emails. It’s great product, at fair prices.
The company turned over $10 million in its first year and I predict it could comfortably become an $80 million business using the curation and agglomeration model.
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