Verishop Built Its Brands to Grow in Its First Year

Co-founder Cate Khan on the online retailer's discovery-driven strategy

Verishop co-founder and chief strategy officer Cate Khan discussed how the platform has used its own brands, pop-up shops and celeb-driven hubs to attract customers. - Credit by Sean T. Smith for Adweek
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Key insights:

In a world where online retailers like Amazon and Walmart reign supreme, newcomer Verishop is relying on more than just conveniences like one-day shipping and free returns to gain new customers. The ecommerce platform, which launched in July 2019 with 160 brands and 4,000 items for sale, has explored a multifaceted, discovery-driven strategy to grow in its first year including developing original brands in-house.

Onstage at Adweek’s Challenger Brands summit in New York with retail reporter Ann-Marie Alcántara, Verishop co-founder and chief strategy officer Cate Khan discussed how incubating new brands in-house is a key growth tactic.

Verishop’s in-house brands include direct-to-consumer skincare line Ghostcare Democracy, women’s clothing brand Billie and women’s loungewear line Lett. They join legacy brands like Levi’s and lesser-known DTC manufacturers like Boll & Branch on the platform.

“We always said we want to be about discovery, and part of that strategy was building our own brands,” Khan said. “We wanted these brands to be on our platform so we could serve customers where there was blank space. I don’t think this is dissimilar to a Netflix strategy. [Netflix has] franchises you know and love, but they also have their owned-and-operated brands as well, like Orange Is the New Black and The Crown. It’s a place where you go for one thing and discover new things.”

Rolling out three original brands in eight months wasn’t too quick a turnaround for Verishop. Khan noted that speed has been key for Verishop’s customers, who are on average under 44, in the age of instant gratification. “You can’t win against big behemoths if you don’t move quickly,” she said.

Creating original brands is just one part of Verishop’s discovery strategy. To introduce its slate of brands to more consumers and drive regional sales, the platform has physically brought itself to life through partnerships, and has tapped into nontraditional marketing mediums like Instagram. The brand worked with shopping center company Westfield to launch pop-up shops, which Khan said has helped the brand tell its story.

“We really want to create brands that have a heart and soul, and are truly unique in a marketplace filled with white space,” she said. “The pop-up stores have been great because customers can experience the brand the way we want to be seen.”

Verishop also partnered with private membership-based social network Raya and sexual wellness brand Maude to host an event about sex and dating in the digital age. According to Khan, Maude products sold out on the site following an Instagram push about the event.

Another key growth tactic for Verishop is leveraging celebrities. Verishop offers six shopping categories including Tastemaker Shops, stores curated by fashion influencers and celebrities, and the brand recently launched a shop curated by actress Kristen Bell. Twenty percent of sales from the collection go toward the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s True campaign.

“[With Tastemaker] people can align their personalities with celebrities they feel an affinity to in shopping,” Khan said. “From a brand perspective, it’s great because DTC brands are getting space here. You may not have known about Caraway cookware, but Kristen Bell has it in her Tastemaker Shop.”

Khan said the brand will continue to lead with a discovery-first mindset throughout 2020 and beyond, noting the platform will continue to add new brands, especially in the international and DTC categories.

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