Andres Sosa’s vision for Theoutnet.com
Andres Sosa, the executive and driving force behind Theoutnet.com, has a vision for the Off Season fashion e-tailer and its multi-lingual, and many, currencies.
Beginning next year, Theoutnet.com will be translated into German and French; with Russian, Chinese and Japanese next in the pipeline.
“It’s all about talking to customers in a very luxury way, and letting them shop in a local language with a localized experience,” explains Sosa.
This fall, Theoutnet.com has been also busy behind the scenes “re-platforming" for customers in France, the UK, Germany, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong – for an easier shopping cart; and adding a slew of new brands from Yves Salomon and developing more capsule collections.
“From all our feedback in a study of 10,000 women, we saw that local currencies were really important to them. So, now she shops in her own money in Japan, China, Australia and Hong Kong,” explains Sosa.
Though launched with some hitches back in 2009, Theoutnet.com has gone on to register over four million orders; 2.5 million unique visitors each month; and an average of 30 orders placed per minute at peak periods.
“Theoutnet.com was born as the off-season destination. It’s informal; sees the fun side and offers incredible designer brands at up to a 75% discount. But, and this is key, the customer has a great experience, while shopping the previous season. Which means a $25,000 Dolce & Gabbana dress needs to be treated as such. We are not a flash sale site!” he practically shouts.
In terms of profile, Theoutnet.com has a very attractive customer base: 39 years old on average, with a £110,000 annual household income, enthuses Sosa, underlining that she travels from seven to nine times a year on holiday – short and long haul.
“She’s a traveler, who shops with a specific occasion in mind. That could be an entire summer holiday – and could be what she wants to wear to work in the autumn. When we first launched we thought she would be a young customer – and did not knew brands. We’ve since realized that she was older and does buy brands at full price, but is also very savvy and decides where and when to spend her money,” he boasts of the Theoutnet.com, which stocks no menswear or men’s accessories.
Also in 2016, the etailer moved to a far larger warehouse in Clifton, New Jersey. Its European logistics are in Bologna, but the brand is based in London, where Sosa lives, managing a team of a marketing, merchandising and buying of 74 people.
This past year, besides Yves Salomon (though not his fur, as the corporation has a no-fur policy), the online boutique has also added Camilla kaftans and Eyts. And, like her big sister Net-a-Porter, Theoutnet.com has moved into fine jewelry, retailing Carbon & Hyde, a line by two sisters, Yarden and Orden Katz, whose grandparents were diamond dealers.
However, the top designers in terms of turnover are names like Tory Burch, Chloé, Oscar de la Renta and Isabel Marant. Even if occasional uploads of surplus stock from the likes of Saint Laurent and Tom Ford “can do really greeeaaat!”
A 44-year-old Venezuelan, Sosa joined Theoutnet.com four years ago, and today reports to Alessandra Rossi – president of Off-Season, which encompasses Yoox. The March 2015 merger of Yoox and Net-a-Porter, created a group with five pillars – Yoox and Theoutnet.com; two In-Season divisions, Net-a-Porter and Mr. Porter, and a series of Online flagship brands for some 40 fashion houses.
In 2016, Off, which includes Yoox, scored a 37% jump in revenue to 697 million euros. Theoutnet.com does not release its sales figures, but in view of the fact that it’s 2.5 million monthly unique visitors account for just less than 9% of the total visitors to YNET, its turnover is estimated at around 160 million euros.
Prior to joining Theoutnet.com, Sosa was with Value Retail, in charge of global marketing and getting international consumers into that company’s booming discount villages. A similar idea to Theoutnet.com, except in bricks and mortar.
Looking back, Sosa stresses that when Theoutnet.com founded it was all about shoppable content.
“We redefined the luxury discount model. We wanted that content as part of the DNA of the group,” he opines.
One result, a charming video series called Dropped Pins in its editorial What to Wear section where cool gals like Kym Ellery and Missy Rayder talk about their life and neighbourhoods. Unlike the two Porter cousins, Theoutnet.com sells one season behind; meaning the stock tends to be a year old. However, Sosa cautions that just seven percent of stock comes from Net-a-Porter and none from Yoox. The rest is sourced directly from the brands.
“Yes, in some cases we buy product they were unable to sell. But our buyers place orders, which help with minimum volumes of production for big brands. Though, paying a different fee,” he smiles.
Sosa has also worked hard to increase exclusive collaborations with designers like Matthew Williamson, Jerome Dreyfus, Alice Temperley or swimwear label Melissa Odabash.
His next long-term goals? “Take over the world – Nah, that’s the personal one. The next five years is all about serving the customers. And the key is mobile. Matter of fact that’s here already - over 50% of our sales come from some sort of mobile device or app,” says Sosa, in a call from headquarters, above Westfield mall, Shepherd's Bush, London.
Chuckles this overachieving Virgo: “We could have moved to a little Silicon Valley in Shoreditch but I don’t want to live in a bubble. Seeing our customers shop in the mall below means I do my research walking to the office.”
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