an immersive experience room for serious one-on-one product engagement, events space and a café.

Farfetch is remaining tightlipped on whether it plans to acquire any more stores itself. More likely is that it will encourage a roll-out of its template to partner boutiques. Either way, it is a welcome affirmation that a cutting-edge experiential retail environment can draw customers back into ‘real world’ stores in a way which can’t be replicated online. Intriguingly, it also raises this question: could this kind of technology be the unlikely saviour of UK bricks and mortar independent retailers?

Simply put, yes, possibly, if the physical experience of retail can provide the benefits of online shopping for the consumer, while also delivering an added dimension unavailable in cyberspace. This opens the door to a fascinating future of a complementary, rather than competitive, relationship between virtual and physical retailing.

What’s more, the business is best positioned to achieve a 360 view of customer behaviour across all channels and crucially to understand the dynamics between them. All successful online pure plays leverage behavioural data collected via their websites to enhance the visitor experience, however few can also leverage a store network and a first class tech platform. This leaves Farfetch in a position of strength, with a deep understanding of customer interaction across all channels, the brand can deliver a fully optimised real estate strategy that is perfectly aligned with the online business.

Independent retailers, just like their chain store peers, are recognising the importance of engaging with their target audiences via social media platforms, having up to date websites with real time stock availability, at the same time providing a physical environment that is lively, energetic and engages the senses. It is not just about streamlined purchasing methods.

For Farfetch the future certainly looks bright. One of the company’s unique selling points is that although it is a conduit for clothing brands and boutiques, it is at heart a technology company.

According to Bain & Co, the global market for personal luxury goods will be worth around $446bn by 2025, up from $307bn last year and tech-loving millennials are expected to be key drivers of the trend. Farfetch says that about 90% of its revenue comes via its Farfetch Marketplace retail operation – the first and largest of its platforms. But it undoubtedly has the flexibility to extend its platforms into new markets should it choose to.

In the UK, retailers who are prepared to embrace Farfetch- style technology and truly move towards an omni-channel presence, with up to date operating systems, rapid pick up facilities and an in-store wow-factor are best placed to maintain footfall in their real world stores, something that can only benefit the overall retail landscape.

Matthew Thompson is Head of Retail Strategy at Colliers UK / +44 (0)20 7344 6817

Farfetch has increasingly long reach


2007 Founded by Portuguese businessman José Neves 2008 Formal launch, selling products from 25 boutiques in five countries

2014 Partner network expands to include over 300 boutiques in 35 countries

2015 First direct brand partners join platform

Browns boutique in London acquired and ‘Store of The Future’ concept launched

2017 Beta version of ‘Store of The Future’ technology unveiled and 90-minute delivery service in 10 cities across four continents launched

2018 The platform welcomes its first department store partner, Harvey Nichols

First IPO raises $885m as shares start trading on NYSE

Source: Farfetch

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