Retail in Asia


OntheList’s Delphine Lefay talks members-only model, Asia expansion as OntheList launches in Thailand

Already in six Asian markets including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, and soon, Thailand, flash sales platform OntheList is counting on #FOMO (fear of missing out) and the appeal of the ‘members-only’ model to clear partner brands’ excess inventory and promote sustainability in retail.

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The B Corp-certified company co-founded by French natives Delphine Lefay and Diego Dultzin Lacoste became the first members-only sales platform in Asia in 2016, though iterations of the same concept have thrived in Europe and the US for over a decade as designer sample sales migrated online.

Co-founders Diego Dultzin Lacoste and Delphine Lefay. Source: OntheList

Prior to starting OntheList in Hong Kong, Lefay and Dultzin worked in fashion retail and witnessed the significant waste generated by the retail industry, on top of high disposal rates among local consumers.

OntheList today offers a wide selection of apparel and accessories, homeware, beauty, and even experiences from premium brands through flash sales online as well as offline in OntheList showrooms across the region.

Retail in Asia speaks with OntheList co-founder and chief executive officer, Delphine Lefay on pioneering the concept in Asia, cultivating interest among members, and consumption trends in the region.

RiA: Tell us about your membership-only business model.

Delphine Lefay: Our members-only business model is unorthodox but we believe that the sense of community and exclusivity could create FOMO and attract a wider consumer market.

While we are offering a sustainable option for brand partners to clear past-season inventory, we are creating an opportunity for customers to purchase at discounted prices. This has proven to be successful, as evidenced by our member base of over [474,000] in Hong Kong to date.

RiA: What are the biggest benefits for brands that partner with OntheList?

Lefay: Solving excessive inventory has always been a challenge for brands, particularly for high-end brands where brand image is intrinsically of utmost importance.

We have leveraged our existing connections with various brands and communicated our members-only business concept to gain their trust.

By doing so, we have been able to find new purposes for past-season products in a sustainable manner, while also tackling the challenge of managing excess inventory. Our unique approach to inventory management has allowed us to create a sustainable and beneficial solution for not just brands, but also consumers.

RiA: Can you share a few key milestones for the company?
Source: OntheList

Lefay: In the past year, we continued to expand our reach and offerings to the community. We are thrilled to have opened a new showroom in Taikoo Place, which has not only enabled us to collaborate with more brand partners, but also provided a seamless space for fashion and lifestyle enthusiasts, including the residents nearby, to explore and shop guilt-free.

In addition to this, we are proud to have achieved B Corp™ certification in Hong Kong, which is recognised as one of the most demanding certifications in the world. However, we recognise that this is just the beginning of our journey towards doing more for our members, employees, community, and environment.

Moving forward, we will continue to encourage our APAC markets to follow in our footsteps and become B Corp™ certified, further promoting sustainable business practices in the fashion industry.

RiA: What are some exciting next steps for the company? Where else do you plan to take OntheList?

Lefay: We can’t neglect the power of AI these days, and so we started looking at  how to be even more efficient and effective in all that we do.

We are excited to announce that we are soon opening a new store in Thailand, which will extend our reach to new customers.

In addition, we remain committed to strengthening our presence in the six markets where we are already established in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and Malaysia.

To further our growth and enhance the customer experience, we have identified the key areas of prioritisation. First of all, we will optimise our inventory management system to ensure that the right products are allocated to the right channels, thereby increasing operational efficiency.

Source: OntheList

Secondly, we will engage with our members in a more personalised manner by tailoring our services to their interests and preferences. By offering early access to selected groups of valuable members, we can enhance their experience and make them feel special and valued.

Finally, we will invest in IT infrastructure to develop new tools and capabilities that will enable us to better respond to our members and deliver a superior experience.

RiA: Tell us about emerging trends or consumption patterns in the different markets. 

Lefay: We have noticed that there are distinct trends and buying patterns in different markets, which can vary based on several factors.

For instance, seasonality is different in markets such as Australia, where the seasons are reversed compared to the Northern Hemisphere. This means that consumer behavior and preferences for certain products can change depending on the time of year. 

Additionally, some markets, like Korea and Singapore, are more cosmetics-driven, with consumers willing to pay a premium for high-quality skincare and beauty products.

China and Hong Kong are more focused on fashion, with consumers spending more on trendy clothing and accessories. Despite these differences, one trend that remains consistent across markets is consumer behaviour with discount products.

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Regardless of the market, consumers are often drawn to discounted items, which can influence their purchasing decisions. Understanding these trends and patterns can help businesses tailor their products and marketing strategies to appeal to local consumers and increase their chances of success.