The worlds of content and commerce are already on a collision course, with many retailers adopting an editorial focus, at the same time as media brands branch out into commercial endeavours.
But nobody has successfully combined both sectors into a curated, integrated shopping experience… until now.
Endource is a curated fashion ecommerce platform, enabling style fans to purchase editor’s picks from multiple brands and media sources in a single place. The brain child of secretescapes.com founder, Troy Collins, we spoke to him about his boundary-pushing venture and the digital lessons that fashion can learn from the travel industry.
What differentiates Endource from other retail sites?
We are a social shopping platform for fashion. Some might call us a fashion aggregator, others an ecommerce platform. But unlike more generic aggregators, we focus on fashion’s most coveted pieces, showcasing items that have been editorially endorsed in 150 media titles, which are indexed on daily basis.
We’ve also built an integrated checkout, which is the first truly universal shopping cart for the UK fashion industry. Customers can buy from all their favourite retailers in one simple transaction, they don’t have to keep checking out and entering payment details, saving them valuable time.
Which came first – the editorial or the retail?
Honestly, it was a bit of chicken and egg scenario to start with. On the one hand, very few fashion magazines indexed the products they endorsed. At the same time, very few retailers highlighted products that had been editorial featured. We wanted to connect the dots between commerce and content.
Ultimately, the purpose of Endource is to make it easier for customers to get hands on products they are reading about. While publishers generate enormous purchase intent, they aren’t helping customer harness that purchasing power. Equally, retailers and brands can’t fully utilise the endorsements their products are receiving.
Who is the Endource customer?
We have a broad spectrum of customers, but the key group is female, defined by their busy lives and their interest in fashion.
There are many women out there who don’t have time to absorb all the fashion content that comes their way, but who would love to sit down and flick through a magazine. We condense all the information they need into a single place. During a 15-minute bus ride or coffee break, they can view, choose and purchase from a spectrum of retailers through one site, using their smartphones.
Speaking of smartphones, mobile cart abandonment is a big problem for online retail – how do you think retailers can improve the mobile experience?
What should be obvious to every retailer is that mobile conversion is generally appalling, but at the same time mobile traffic is massively increasing. Before we came along, multiple retailer shopping was almost impossible on a mobile device, simply because it involved too many keystrokes.
Over 60% of our traffic now comes from mobile devices, which should tell retailers how much revenue could be unlocked if we tore down those mobile experience barriers.
We take mobile very seriously; it’s so ingrained in our strategy that if someone demos an idea on desktop first they have to put a pound in a sin jar! Yet we’ve decided not to launch an app just yet because app stores are now so saturated, the opportunity to generate organic traffic through this route is no longer guaranteed.
Whereas five years ago apps offered a better user experience, we’re now at a point where mobile browsers are so sophisticated that they offer almost all the same features.
As the founder of Secret Escapes, Endource is an interesting new direction for you. What can the fashion industry learn from travel?
Only 20% of fashion is bought online, compared to 90% of travel. The simple fact is that the industry has so much room to grow, and yet there are still barriers to purchasing clothing and accessories online that other industries have already solved.
Travel is at least 10 years ahead of fashion in terms of transition from high street to digital, so there’s a lot that can be learned.
You’re a young company, growing fast in the UK – what’s next?
We only launched properly in March last year, but we know we have a really clever piece of technology that solves a lot of problems. For us, the next step is scaling our current offering.
Short-term, the plan is to continue developing in the UK; London is a real fashion-tech hub thanks to companies like Net-a-Porter, FarFetch and ASOS, so it’s a great place to be cutting our teeth. However, we anticipate that next year Endource will be broadening its horizons.
The U.S. would be obvious next step – every UK fashion magazine has US equivalent, it’s an enormous market, and we share the same language. Global domination is certainly on agenda, but to be sustainable we believe in proving ourselves in select markets first.