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No more flash for men’s apparel e-retailer JackThreads

October 2, 2015 11:22 AM
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Fast-growing men’s clothing e-retailer JackThreads is fashioning a new path for its business. In what the founder of parent company Thrillist Media Group calls “the most exciting day in the history of the company,” JackThreads on Thursday rolled out a redesigned website and updated mobile apps that remove all aspects of its flash-sale business model and include the sale of its own branded line of men’s apparel.

Thrillist also announced that it raised $54 million in new investment for its media and e-commerce businesses, which will progressively move to operate as separate businesses.

“We’ve always had the IQ of a tech company … and had a best-in-class e-commerce experience,” says founder and CEO of Thrillist Ben Lerer. “What we haven’t been the best at is merchandising, and that is what we have been working on for months and months. It’s the difference between JackThreads being a flash-sale retailer, versus JackThreads being a globally recognized fashion brand that guys love.”

JackThreads’ new site has an updated look, a new logo, and the e-retailer is A/B testing the removal of its login feature, so some segments of site visitors do not have to provide a username and password to login. Previously, only JackThreads members who login into the site could navigate it, similar to other flash-sale e-retailers like zulily Inc., Gilt Groupe Inc. and RueLaLa.com.

The biggest change, Lerer says, is that JackThreads is selling a full line of JackThreads-branded apparel. About 116 JackThreads products are listed for sale on the site, and the e-retailer will roll out additional ones on a regular basis. Products include the Daily Cardigan, a part-cashmere sweater the merchant sells for $69.50, or the DoWN Jacket listed at $99.50.

In April, JackThreads, No. 237 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, hired Tony Kretten, formerly the head of men’s global design at Gap Inc., to help the merchant create the new line.

An email blast went out to JackThreads members Thursday announcing the shift, in what it calls the rollout of JackThreads 2.0, “A new collection, a new site, new apps, new everything.”

JackThreads has for the past year been preparing for this move to a full-price retailer, and in June 2014 the e-retailer stopped purchasing overstock and off-season goods that it would normally sell via flash sales, or limited-time sale events where items were listed at a steep discount, Lerer says. Since June 2014, JackThreads has been selling a mixture of private-label goods and full-price items from about 75 brands. Prior to the shift, JackThreads was selling discounted products from more than 1,000 brands, the e-retailer says.

In preparation for the launch of its own brand, JackThreads experimented in offering customers private-label items, such as the line of Goodale shirts the e-retailer sells. Consumers have demonstrated they don’t mind purchasing items from a “made up” brand they have never heard of, as about half of JackThreads’ business is private label, Lerer says.

Thrillist acquired JackThreads in 2010, when Lerer says it was “just a startup and tiny, baby company.” The Thrillist and JackThreads brands were long intermingled, and JackThreads often cross-promoted itself to the Thrillist audience and used it as a source of traffic. This worked to drive fast growth for JackThreads, which brought in an estimated $105.6 million in sales last year, up from $4.4 million in 2010.

But beginning last year, JackThreads “achieved a scale where it had a life of its own,” Lerer says. “It was clearer and clearer to us that thinking of JackThreads as a commerce appendage of Thrillist wasn’t doing it justice. To compete with the Gaps and Urban Outfitters of the world meant it needed to have a real focus from the management team.”

JackThreads and Thrillist in the past year began positioning themselves as separate companies. Early this year, for example, Thrillist hired Mark Walker as president of commerce to run JackThreads and Eric Ashman as president of the media side of the business.

As a further sign of a split between the media and the commerce brands of Thrillist, the $54 million in new investment will be divided between the companies to use at their discretion. Lerer would not disclose the breakdown of investment but says the funds are not overwhelmingly skewed to Thrillist or to JackThreads.

JackThreads will use the cash to build out its product design capabilities and make improvements to its supply chain processes, fulfillment operations and customer experience, Lerer says. To show off their new line in person, JackThreads also will open its first pop-up shop in New York City later this month.

 

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