Can a new off-price retailer find treasure without opening stores?
T.J.Maxx and other off-price apparel retailers defined by their treasure hunt shopping experiences have mostly shied away from the e-commerce world. Questions remain if their business model, based on the thrill of seeing the unexpected on store racks, can be replicated profitably online. A new discounter, however, is trying to make an online-only indie brand treasure hunt a reality.
Los Angeles-based online discounter Cara Cara, which launched last fall, sells products at a 20 percent to 60 percent discount, according to Business Insider. The website focuses on designer and indie brands. The company founder, Rachel Gannon, stages and takes pictures of products for the website, and fulfills orders by hand. Cara Cara has seen approximately 15,000 site visitors and 500 sales thus far.
Ms. Gannon has experience both with startups and mainstream retail buying, as discussed in an article on Refinery 29. She held the role of buying and merchandising director at lifestyle startup ban.do and had earlier experience at RueLaLa and Macy’s. Refinery characterizes the presence of discounted indie brands like Dusen Dusen and Rachel Antonoff as unique to Cara Cara in the off-price space.
Cara Cara’s site currently stocks somewhere around 15 brands, with the number of available products varying within each. Copy on the site describes Cara Cara as being a “marketplace of discovery” distinguishing itself from what it calls the “tedious ‘treasure hunt’ of conventional off-price stores.”
While T.J.Maxx has an online store, it accounts for a small percentage of the chain’s sales. Others in the space, including Macy’s Backstage and Ross Stores, have thus far avoided e-commerce entirely, according to Business Insider.
- Cara Cara – Cara Cara
- How It Works – Cara Cara
- The founder of a trendy new retail startup explains how she’s creating a business for the TJ Maxx shopper of the future – Business Insider
- Hide Your Wallets! There’s A New Off-Price Destination For Your Favorite Indie Brands – Refinery 29
- How One Huge American Retailer Ignored the Internet and Won – Bloomberg
- Are off-pricers discounting their online opportunity? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think that an off-price apparel retailer can thrive online? Do you agree with the distinction between “discovery” and “treasure hunt” that the Cara Cara website draws?