The wholesale industry experienced a period of accelerated digital transformation as it pivoted to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and ensuing seasons.
However, as lockdowns subside, the wholesale industry is evolving again to become one of the industry’s most fully realised hybridised experiences. Joor — a virtual wholesale partner to over 13,300 brands from over 150 countries around the world — was a key player in leading that transformation.
With over $1.7 billion in wholesale transaction volume processed per month, today, over 385,000 retailers including Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, Harrods and Dover Street Market use Joor. Businesses leveraging its digital platform include brands as varied as major conglomerates like LVMH and Kering, to leading global brands such as Tory Burch and brands like A Bathing Ape, who carry significant cultural capital.
In 2021, over 150 million products were sold on the platform, and Joor’s wholesale transaction volume grew 54 percent over its prior year, demonstrating rapid growth in digital adoption .
At BoF’s Tech Summit, BoF’s Robin Mellery-Pratt spoke with Kristin Savilia, CEO of Joor to discuss the lessons to be learnt on the interplay of physical events and digital capabilities from this pioneering part of the industry. Below, BoF identifies the key insights from that conversation.
Virtual Showrooms Increase Accessibility
KS: Without the right assortment, you’re not going to be able to maximise what digital transformation really means in the wholesale space [and that] starts with a virtual showroom.
This showroom is generally brand driven — they put the content in and what the brand is able to do is really show all of their products without the restraints of the walls of the showroom or [a] trade show booth. They’re able to feature extended assortments, achieve greater reach because the showrooms are globally accessible, and personalise the experience . Logins are matched to the buyer doing the shopping — so whether you’re Neiman Marcus Group or a [smaller] business, the assortment you see is matched to you.
[On] the retailer side, retailers can log into the showrooms 24/7. They can log in from their couch at home, their office, or an aeroplane and do shopping on their time for what they need in their stores. They’re seeing a digital view of the assortment [and] seeing everything available in the market [all] in one place, which makes an enormous difference in visual assortment planning. Then, finally, the biggest key features are really related to analytics and the upstream transparency you’re able to get from real-time reporting.
Data Driven Assortment Insights
KS: Data is your secret sauce. If data informs your decision, that makes all the difference. Right now, buyers are getting data from different screens and sources. They’re getting sales data, trend data, emails. You really need that all in a single place to make the best decision for your assortments.
What’s fortunate for wholesale is that we have the consumer facing e-commerce surge of the past 25 years to give us a blueprint of what needs to come into the wholesale space, so we get to learn from that. There’s personalisation for buyers that, when you go to a site like Joor, you can be fed up with items that might make sense based on data again, not making the decision but informing your decision. That is what we’re seeing and part of the great value achieved in digitising your business .
Addressing Wholesale’s Ecological Impact
KS: The greatest impact is travel [and] we saw that post pandemic. Even now, the reduction in travel has been around 80 percent thanks to having a digital solution that enables you to purchase globally and not have to travel.
Additionally, [another way of reducing impact] comes down to sampling. The industry generally either makes a lot of samples for sales reps to carry around, or a lot of photography samples that are being shipped to all these different retailers. 3D, AR modelling — where you’re not even making the sample in the first place, makes a big difference.
Our most recent focus is enabling retailers to understand the provenance of their assortment better. We hear a lot of retailers making commitments that they’re going to make their assortments more sustainable by 2025. Yet, they then realise, “how are we going to live up to this?” When you think about it, that has to be done upstream when you’re buying the products, not when it’s already on your selling floor. Joor is working with select retailers right now to come up with a mechanism and a standardisation of what is sustainable, but more importantly, providing the reporting against that so a buyer can say ‘X percent of my assortment is sustainable’ before [it] hits your selling floors.
This is a sponsored feature paid for by JOOR as part of a BoF partnership. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.