Vente Privée, the billion-dollar European flash sales juggernaut, is launching in the US in a joint venture with American Express. They recently recruited Mike Steib, a CEO from Google, with whom we caught up to learn more about the company. While Vente Privée dominates Europe, it’s going late into a very competitive market against rivals like Ideeli, RueLaLa, and the biggest startup in the space, Gilt Groupe.
But it’s a remnant inventory market in the US is pretty huge: it’s a few billion dollars’ worth online, but it is a $50 billion market in the US offline, Steib said, from retailers like TJ Maxx.
Some of the key things we’ve learned:
- The US joint venture will be keeping the Vente Privée brand, which Vente Privée is licensing to the joint venture;
- Vente Privée US’s strategy is right out of the Vente Privée playbook: they recognise that the private sales business isn’t a consumer business, it’s an enterprise business; Vente Privée succeeds because it provides great service to brands by showcasing and advertising their brand;
- AMEX’s role in the joint venture is interesting: it obviously works as an acquisition channel from the company’s millions of cardholders, but also as a way to let brands know the people buying will be high-value; they also provide marketing expertise;
- They still don’t know when the service is going to launch; they’re still hiring like crazy.
The most interesting is the sheer ambition of Vente Privée. They’re not going after the few billions of dollars that the online players are already selling; they’re going after the tens of billions that are still offline. With Vente Privée’s model of high production value online boutiques, it certainly looks like they can provide a better service to brands than offline retailers.
(Disclaimer: Gilt Groupe shares co-founders with Business Insider.)
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