Ecommerce businesses that put the emphasis on customer service have attracted investment in two deals announced this week.
Curated shopping service Outfittery, founded in 2012, has raised $22m (£16.9m) from investors led by Octopus Ventures, and incuding the U-Start Club, in order to pursue its vision of personal customer service. Meanwhile, MyOptique, owner of online prescription eyewear businesses Glasses Direct and SunglassesShop, is being bought by Essilor International.
For menswear business Outfittery, personal service means cutting down on the number of choices offered, using a combination of stylists and technology to offer every client an individual service. That's quite a task for a company with 400,000 clients in eight countries.
“In a world where clients are faced with way too many options while shopping, we aim to create an individual, and hassle-free shopping experience that is fun," said Julia Boesch, managing director and co-founder of Outfittery. “This latest financing round affirms that we’re on the right track and we’re very proud to have both Octopus Ventures and U-Start Club involved. With their support, we can now expand our market leadership position in curated shopping and further improve the service experience for our clients.”
Customer service is clearly important for investor Stefano Guidotti, CEO of U-Start. "The future of fashion retail lies in a highly qualitative, individualised and relevant offering for the client," he said. "We are convinced that OUTFITTERY has found the right way to bring exactly this service and quality back into retail, particularly ecommerce, and that through this they have found the right way to give men access to fashion in a sleek, frictionless way.”
MyOptique, a £57m turnover business, also puts the emphasis on a strategy of innovating in order to drive "the best possible customer experience." MyOptique online retail brands sell highly personalised items – prescription glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses. Glasses Direct, founded by Jamie Murray Wells, was a pioneer in taking prescription lenses online, while innovating through services including home trials, and a virtual mirror. Sister company Lensbest was the first to sell contact lenses by mail order in Germany, and LensOn introduced one click reordering for Nordic buyers of contact lenses.
MyOptique said today that it was to be bought by Essilor International, a leader in ophthalmic optics, a deal that will enable it to continue growing its business in Europe.
Kevin Cornils, CEO of MyOptique, said: “This transaction represents a major milestone for the MyOptique Group. Our new ownership provides a tremendous platform from which to continue to build a very successful business on our proven multi-category, multi-brand model. My management team and I are delighted by the opportunity afforded from becoming part of the Essilor family.”