The e-commerce giant has teamed up with a group of brands to offer shoppers a chance to secure in-demand items before they hit the market. The move is a bid to further differentiate Farfetch’s platform from competitors in an increasingly crowded market.
Ten brands have signed on for the launch, including Balenciaga, Khaite, Nanushka, Palm Angels, Oscar de la Renta and Farfetch-owned Off-White, the company said. Customers can preview and order looks four weeks before they hit the broader market. New previews of upcoming seasons will launch monthly, the company said.
For now, the clothes available for pre-order have already been made, with orders shipping four weeks after they are teased on the Farfetch website. Down the line, however, Farfetch sees the service as a sustainability play. The idea is to develop a “true pre-production proposition,” providing brands with a way to help manage inventory and minimise waste within the industry, said Jamie Freed, global vice president of Farfetch’s private client division.
“When we think about what this will evolve into for the longer term, we really think of it as an industry solution, for us to be able to offer a way in which to create a more conscious way of shopping so that our brands can better match supply with real consumer demand,” Freed said.
In the meantime, the service gives customers access to the new season products before they appear anywhere else — something Farfetch’s private clientele had already been asking for. Brands also benefit from access to pre-order data, which can help identify potential bestsellers and inform re-orders earlier than usual.
Farfetch isn’t the first to experiment with this retail model. Luxury retailers and brands have a long history of rewarding top clients by granting them early access to new collections ahead of the general public. Moda Operandi runs trunk shows on its website, which let shoppers pre-order fashion shortly after it debuts on the catwalk, while more recently brands like Kitri and Telfar have started using pre-orders as a tool to help better predict product demand.
Farfetch sees an opportunity to boost shopper engagement more widely.
“When we thought about how we would bring this to life, we didn’t want to restrict it just to our best customers,” Freed said. “We wanted to take a really democratic approach to this...benefit that customers have actually said that they want from us.”
Independent designers like Telfar are bringing pre-orders directly to their customers — online and outside of the traditional seasonal delivery schedule. BoF explores the pros and cons of the strategy, and how to talk to customers about waiting in a fast-fashion world.