Much has been written about the rise of e-commerce in China, and how its growth is cutting into more traditional retailers. But from the perspective of customers, the two are not exclusive.
Nowadays, few people only shop online or offline. Rather, most consumers choose their shopping channel based on a number of factors including proximity to the store, price, product quality, and shopping experience.
This integration of online and offline shopping experiences is bringing about a new form of retailing, dubbed “Shop as a Service” by Howell Hu, the founder of New Arrival.
New Arrival is an app that lets customers find offline boutique stores around the world. It’s up to the user whether or not they want to shop at a brick-and-mortar store or an online outlet. Also, the app can be used as a guide for travelers who want to explore fashion stores in different city, says Howell. To distinguish from other online fashion retailers, New Arrival only cooperates with designer or multi-brand stores, or “stores with special fashion tastes”.
“All retailers on New Arrival have their brick-and-mortar stores, which is a big endorsement for product quality and after-sales services,” says Howell.
“Under our contract with the stores, the prices for the same product will be the same or lower on our platform when compared with the physical shops,” he says.
The app has a Tinder-like feature where users can use a swiping motion to choose their favorite products: swipe right to like it, left to pass, and down to put it into the shopping chart. New Arrival also has a virtual reality feature, which lets online users get a more immersive shopping experience by taking 360 degree tours of physical stores.
“For offline retailers, New Arrival is an useful tool to expand beyond their current customer base and attract more user traffics,” says Howell. “Apart from that, we serve as a Google Analytics for brick-and-mortar retailers and provide insights on their sales data.”
The startup monetizes its service by charging commission for each order and its data analytics services. Currently, the app is only available in iOS. The Android version is expected to launch in September this year, according to Howell.
Howell Hu is an author and serial entrepreneur. In 2014, he and his team started build New Arrival platform. Howell has first-hand experiences of the mobile game, luxury travel OTA and enterprise SaaS in years before involved New Arrival.