Threads raises $20m from C Ventures and Highland Europe to create the best luxury shopping experience in the world
- Threads is pioneering chat commerce with its personal shopping service for millennials that uses social media, messaging and proprietary data-led tech to serve its global customer base
- Chat commerce is changing the nature of e-commerce, with higher engagement and conversion rates
- Founder Sophie Hill is a millennial who has created a fashion tech business for her generation
- C Ventures, the fashion and millennial-focused fund, leads the round with Highland Europe
- Threads has an average transaction value of over $3,000 and works closely with leading design houses including Dior, Fendi and Chopard
Threads, a chat commerce business that helps millennials find the right luxury outfit and accessories through social media and messaging, has raised $20m in series A from C Ventures, Moda Operandi’s lead investor, and Highland Europe, one of matchesfashion.com’s biggest investors.
Threads (@threadsstyling) is changing the luxury retail landscape by giving consumers a personal shopper in their pocket. The company uses WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat to help customers find the best luxury items for every occasion, wherever they are in the world. Since day one Threads has focused on high net worth millennial shoppers, since these were being ignored by conventional luxury shopping channels.
London-based Threads is evolving luxury retailing in a new direction by interacting with customers in a personalised and immediate way, via chat platforms that shoppers already know well and use all the time. The Threads service can find, source and deliver beautiful clothes, jewellery and accessories to anywhere in the world by connecting customers, who are engaged by its original editorial content, directly to a highly skilled personal shopping team. Unlike conventional luxury retailers, Threads does not hold inventory but has direct agreements with luxury brands and suppliers around the world so that it can obtain the required products quickly, sometimes in less than half an hour. Its customers are global citizens who travel frequently and its biggest markets are in Asia, the Middle East and the US. The chat commerce that Threads has pioneered is already five times more effective at converting sales than traditional e-commerce.
Threads has been built by its world-leading tech team which has backgrounds ranging from content management to data science and fulfilment systems. They have built the first turnkey tech system that integrates social, chat and fulfilment, regardless of the platform the customer chooses to interact over. Threads is on a mission to build AI-powered chat bots that actually work in real luxury commerce conversations, enhancing the human interactions and experience.
“I started the business because I believed that luxury retailers were ignoring my peers, the generation of shoppers under 40. I believe the future of retail involves personalisation and chat.”— Sophie Hill, CEO and Founder
“People want something that is akin to a retail experience but they want it through their mobiles and they want unparalleled convenience and availability. Social media is already driving much higher levels of brand engagement than traditional digital channels have been able to and we see this increasing in the future, as social becomes the default channel for fashion trends, styling and commerce.” Sophie continues.
Threads, founded in 2010, has been growing rapidly in the last three or four years, with sales doubling every year. The funding will help Threads, which currently has 90 employees, continue its strong growth as the London-based company hires at least 50 more people this year and prepares to open offices in Hong Kong and New York. From day one, the company has seen itself as a global business but the new investment will allow it to develop its customer base in the US and Asia.
Clive Ng, co-founding partner of C Ventures, said: “We set up C Ventures to invest in companies that recognise the huge spending power of younger shoppers and also their preference for unique items and personalised content. Threads captures these trends into a game-changing luxury retail solution, with huge potential in Asia and other luxury markets.”
Ben Cheng, managing partner at C Ventures, said: “C Ventures was founded with a vision to bridge the West and the East, bringing together a single global ecosystem targeting Millennials and Generation Z. Threads is likely to see significant demand from Asia and we can help the company expand here on back of our extensive network and resources in the region.”
Tony Zappala, partner at Highland Europe, said: “We are seeing more and more that customers want to shop from their mobile device through channels such as Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp and so on. This trend is being led by Asia where millennials and Generation Z are rapidly becoming the biggest market. In Threads, Sophie has built a great business which has pioneered this trend and has assembled a team of very high calibre people who are anticipating the way the market will evolve and building a great tech product to serve it.”
Threads (@threadsstyling) has customers in 100 countries and 70% of its clients are under 35. It serves time-poor fashion loving millennial and Gen Z shoppers around the world, who will account for 45% of global luxury spending by 2025, according to Bain & Co. The World Data Lab forecasts that the global spending power of millennials will (people born between 1981 and 1996) will overtake that of Generation X by 2020 and will continue to rise.