Many business models have evolved and adapted during the pandemic, and virtual fashion buying platform Joor is one of them.
The company that bills itself as the “world’s premier digital platform for wholesale management” has seen a new and urgent need for its services as the pandemic and its restrictions on travel have sent apparel buyers flocking to Joor to shop the world of fashion without having to leave home. And now that they’ve gotten used to the virtual version of fashion week, fashion buyers not only like the view, they want to expand their use of it.
According to Joor Founder and CEO Kristin Savilia, now they can.
“We surveyed our entire audience in 2019, and 65 percent [asked] Joor to do payments,” Savilia exclusively revealed to PYMNTS’ Karen Webster. “So, we listened to them and launched payments.”
The program launched in beta right before the pandemic and has been used by 175 brands on the platform. Joor Pay offers card, as well as SEPA and ACH payments. ACH, she said, is preferred by 50 percent of its users.
Joor also added billing efficiencies for its users in order to make ACH and SEPA payments easier to use in the form of bundled invoicing. Bundle invoices are a way to group multiple invoices together to issue or pay invoices with one click.
They are critical to the use of SEPA and ACH primarily because the remittance information that accompanies the ISO 20020 messaging protocol can support multiple invoices. Second, they reduce the time small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to spend billing or paying multiple accounts, which is the issue that separates B2B from B2C invoicing and payments.
As Savilia put it, instead of an apparel manufacturer creating 75 different invoices for 75 different retailers, a bundled invoice creates one invoice that simplifies payment choice (such as Joor Pay) without losing tracking ability.
Meeting A Growing Need
“We have a billion dollars in [gross merchandise value (GMV)] running through our platform each month,” Savilia said, highlighting Joor’s new “Passport” product, which allows buyers to virtually peruse the top shows in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, etc. without boarding a plane or interrupting their schedule.
“So, we hosted 17 shows last year, and we ended up having 140,000 retailers from 130 countries — including a guy from Barbados who shopped and bought stuff for his store — and we sold 500,000 items,” she said, noting that the company has scheduled 15 events already this year.
Part of the success for those events is attributable to some of the innovations Joor has integrated over the past year. In March, it announced a strategic partnership with ORDRE, creator of 360-degree technology that leverages mobile technology that captures images quickly in a designer’s showroom or studio. A 360-degree view of each product can be immediately uploaded to Joor’s virtual showroom. In October, it entered a commercial partnership with Hatch, to use its digital in-showroom software to help fashion brands digitize their wholesale events as well as individual appointments.
In much the same way that Zoom calls have reshaped traditional office meetings and caused chief financial officers to take a closer look at the cost-to-benefit metrics of traveling to events or clients, Joor has done the same to the fashion industry. The company hosts more than 8,600 brands, and over 200,000 curated retailers across 144 countries connect on the platform every day. It offers free and paid tiers: Joor Lite and Joor Pro. Joor Lite offers basic functionality for brands and retailers, whereas Joor Pro provides advanced capabilities for greater flexibility, visibility, performance and analytics.
A Supplement, Not A Replacement
As much as Joor is growing and gaining loyal brands and converts, Savilia is the first to admit that it is not going to replace big events, with the biggest buyers going into the biggest showrooms. She said she believes there’s still value in a physical connection for fashion buying, but also noted that her platform has expanded the ability for fostering new business relationships. The company’s spring and fall events brought its brands an average of 14 new connections per show.
To be sure, Savilia is an industry veteran with a unique view of the fashion and retail industries, but she insisted she’s “brand agnostic” and focused only on running a platform that allows interested parties to collaborate. While she has seen her share of stores and merchants fail this past year, she said, in many cases the pandemic essentially accelerated the inevitable. Savilia also said it’s no secret that department stores continue to struggle, but small- and medium-sized players have been gaining traction while eCommerce is exploding.
“I always say to a retailer, ‘I don’t care who you use on your side from a brand perspective, I’m going to make it so my brand can work with your brand,’” Savilia said. “We have 300,000 retailers, many of them SMBs. We have 30 exclusive retailers using us as well, but that’s not everybody. They need everybody. So, from a brand-centric perspective, we’re agnostic and our platform is your platform of record. And our customers can work with any retailer out there, whether they use somebody else or not.”
She said she also sees increased attention being paid to sustainability as well as early signs of retailers preparing for people to lose the sweats and come out of their houses again.
“What I will say is casual is staying around for a while, but we are seeing more ready-to-wear that’s not really meant for your home coming back for Q4 deliverables,” she said. “So, I think people are banking on the vaccine working globally, fingers crossed.”