ShopRunner, a membership-based two-day shipping and checkout e-commerce network, is poised to acquire digital department store Spring, ReCode reported last week.
ShopRunner is part of the Kynetic digital empire run by serial entrepreneur Michael Rubin. Kynetic's Rue La La in June bought Gilt Groupe from Hudson's Bay Co.
Spring declined to comment to Retail Dive. ShopRunner didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment.
The combination of ShopRunner, which says it connects more than 100 retailers with millions of customers, and Spring could bring meaningful competition in online apparel sales and give brands an alternative to Amazon.
Amazon is grabbing online apparel sales and getting close to becoming the top U.S. retailer of apparel this year, according to Wells Fargo analysts, with apparel and footwear sales that could surpass $30 billion this year, toppling Walmart. New Amazon apparel private labels in the pipeline could push sales even further.
Despite that, shopping and discovery remain stumbling blocks. Most online shoppers, even in apparel, go online to buy something when they already know what they want, whereas stores foster browsing, experts have told Retail Dive. And, without the ability to try clothes or shoes on in person, returns (and their high cost to retailers) are ballooning as customers buy multiple items to see which size or color they want.
Efforts like Spring and Project September, a now-defunct image-based app from former Gilt founders launched two years ago, are attempts to bring the sense of discovery possible in stores to the web. But they've been undermined by Instagram, which has moved to ease social commerce in recent months.
Still, the combined ShopRunner/Spring entity has the potential to provide an alternative to Amazon, and take aim at its status as a top apparel source.