Farfetch, an online marketplace for luxury apparel and other goods, is developing new mobile features that could allow customers to share personalized preference information with Farfetch's retail partners as they enter the brick-and-mortar stores operated by those partners, according to a Reuters story.
Jose Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch, told Reuters that the company is testing these features that include the ability to share a wishlist with a retailer as a shopper enters a store, and even the ability to alert store associates to a customer's preference not to be chatted up while shopping.
The report of these plans comes as Farfetch has embarked on an expansion into the Middle East market by partnering with Chalhoub Group, a distributor of many luxury brands in that region, according to The National.
There is not a whole lot known at this point about what exactly Farfetch is up to. Neves told Reuters that Farfetch is planning a rollout of new technology capabilities to selected partners, though he didn't offer a timeline for the rollout, nor did he reveal other details about the projects.
While there isn't much to go on, even the barest description of these mobile offerings sounds promising. Many in the retail sector have talked about the potential for mobile location technology to enable a better shopping experience by alerting the retailer to a specific customer's presence in the store. The retailer could then have data on the customer's past purchases and shopping experience called up to assist associates engaging the customer.
The ability to share a wishlist, or really any kind of shopping list, could have similar value. Meanwhile, a feature that alerts store employees to the fact that a customer isn't feeling chatty, as Reuters described it, seems so inspired it's hard to believe it will see the light of day.
Farfetch's focus on developing new technology features comes as the online marketplace is clearly looking to expand its market reach and grow its market share in a rapidly changing luxury retail market. Changes to that landscape just within the last several months include Richemont's bid to acquire Yoox Net-a-Porter, Coach's rebranding as Tapestry, Burberry's efforts to revamp its strategy and LVMH's executive shuffling, among others.
Farfetch has been changing, too, not only with these mobile feature developments and its reach into the Middle East, but also by accepting a $397 million investment from China's JD.com.
At the same time, luxury retailers are looking to make more of an effort to act digitally, putting a stronger focus on e-commerce efforts and general technology innovation than they had in recent years. That movement in particular could challenge Farfetch if the company doesn't continue to prove its value as a luxury online marketplace to its retail and brand partners.