Jacques-Antoine Granjon, founder and CEO of vente-privee.com, told World Retail Congress delegates that the first wave of the internet is at an end.
“Now is the end of the first part of this revolution. In the first phase it was a tool but now it is back to what you sell. For me it is the end of pure players, they are finished,” he said.
“The future is multi-channel and cross-channel. E-commerce is just a new distribution channel.”
He looked at the current dominant business and he stressed: “Amazon is a brand that creates trust and then it created a marketplace, for smaller retailers to use, and now it makes products. Amazon is now a brand.”
Granjon also looked at pure play fashion retailer ASOS and said: “I believe they will go into stores on Regent Street, the Champs Elysees, New York and Tokyo eventually. One day they will have a board meeting and say they want to be there.” The members only shopping site, who announced a 22 per cent increase in revenue in 2012 of £1.2bn, now employs 1,800 people.
He put the success of his own online business down to understanding the fundamentals of the business. “Great deals will drive traffic. You feed your traffic with the offers and the traffic feeds your website, he said. “Our DNA is inventory and the internet drives this model. The internet is a mail order company, only faster.” He also said that customer service is crucial and warned: “You need to answer your customer, not with a stupid mail that you send to everyone but with a voice that makes them know you are behind the screen and taking care of them.”
Ganjon came back repeatedly to the issue of brands. “Brands are the future. The Chinese have been making brands for the whole world, and now they are buying them. In the future they will want to sell brands to the world,” he said. “We need to look at the way things are changing. In the future people will give phones to their children almost when they are born, because they will want to track them. At vente-privee we do 40% of our sales through smart phone.”