Luxury resale business Sellier: 'We never planned on being an online business' – Drapers

17 May 2022
When luxury re-sale store Sellier opened in 2019 it had no digital strategy, but the global pandemic forced a rethink. Co-founder Hanushka Toni reveals how this was an unexpected boon.
The luxury re-sale market is constantly advancing, and in many ways the pandemic created a unique opportunity for change. For Sellier Knightsbridge, national store closures were the catalyst for a pivot in strategy – launching online gave us the opportunity to connect and engage with customers in a new, exciting and authentic way, leading to our most rapid stage of growth and development. 
Social first
We closed our store when the government issued the national lockdown on 24 March 2020. A “social first” sales model was employed, whereby we used platforms like Instagram to reach people in their homes and showcase the best of our stock in store, whilst having to keep our doors closed to the public. This new model worked. Just two years ago we had fewer than 3,000 Instagram followers. Today we have 104,000 real, engaged followers. Our revenue has gone from around £60k a month two years ago to just under £1 million a month today, with average 25% profitability, and our returning customer rate averages between 40-60% placing more than one order a month.
This new focus on social media also means we have formed unique relationships with our consumers – our followers feel like they are shopping with a friend whilst also receiving the product knowledge that only we as a business can provide. Our Instagram stories speak directly to our buyers in a way that is both accessible and direct,­ providing honest reviews of the product, commenting on trends and the investment value of certain brands.
We often receive questions via direct message in response to these stories [which leads to personalised] conversations with our clients, answering any questions or queries they may have, and offering a specialist personal shopping style level of service.
Launching a website in 2020 has given us the platform to widen international reach, whilst our social media channels allow us to talk about our products in a more intimate way, much like we would in store to replicate the experience
Prior to 2020 we never planned on being an online business. We started as a brick-and-mortar retailer, our business goals at the time were far from the scale the business has achieved today. Our transition online was necessitated by the pandemic but brought about growth in the business that we didn’t envisage when we opened our store.
Trust and loyalty
The authentication process within the re-sale market plays a vital part in ensuring we were providing the best information to shoppers. All our bags go through a process, with each item being authenticated first by our in-house team, and then sent for verification to a third-party expert who is the authority in that particular brand.
Finally, each piece we receive is assessed using microscopic technology that takes hundreds of different images of the item which are then run against a database of authentic bags corresponding to that model.
It is extremely important within the re-sale market that this process is seamless, at Sellier we source rare and limited pieces from super brands and cult labels – big names like Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, but also emerging cult brands like Khaite, Amina Muaddi, Mach and Mach, and Rasario so it’s vital to work alongside specialist authenticators to ensure we provide the best service to our customers.
An evolving sector
This curated approach to stock has aided in building a loyal following, however the landscape of the resale sector is rapidly evolving. People are more conscious when shopping, mindful of over-consumption and sustainability, and value quality over trends.
The luxury end of the market is dominated by a few large players at the top, whilst in comparison the bottom of the market is quite fragmented and represented by lots of smaller and niche boutique businesses who trade low volumes of stock within a particular area of specialisation. We see ourselves as offering the personal level of service that comes from a smaller boutique business in terms of customer attention and stock curation, but when it comes to sales and customer base size we are competing with the big players in the pre-loved arena.

Sellier knightsbridge luxury resale consignment platform

In the long term we expect to see consolidation at the top of the market, with acquisitions of mid-size companies by larger businesses looking to secure supply pipelines of quality resale stock. The biggest challenge to businesses right now is stock – the amount of choice available to sellers makes it more difficult for very large businesses to compete against providers of a more personalised boutique experience like the one we give our customers.
Curation is key
Sellier offers the tight curation that businesses focusing on scale cannot achieve. We are very selective about the pieces we accept, always keeping our customers and their shopping habits and needs in mind.
Our tightly curated edit and the fact that we are strict about the brands that we accept – the ones that we know our customers are looking for – is one of Sellier’s main USPs. Only selecting pieces that we know are in demand results in an extremely high sell through rate, and means we do not have stock on the site for months at a time. This benefits both the buyer and the seller.
We also work with the top authenticators in the world to vigorously check all stock we receive and we’re passionate about clamping down on fakes. We create specific dedicated social content to educate our followers on shopping in the pre-loved market, so they know what to look for and how to ensure they are getting the best product at the best price.
At Sellier we have embraced challenges to build a successful business model that has thrived through the pandemic and beyond, and it is this ability to adapt and embrace change that allows us to keep growing as the market evolves.
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