Here’s a question which might exercise the grey matter of the average e‑commerce manager and e‑commerce analyst: what’s best — to focus or broaden?
Let’s be a bit clearer. In the massive fashion and retail e‑commerce space, does it pay to focus on your own exclusive brand and build a community around it, or is it wiser to “think broad”? Warby Parker, the startup fashion eyewear e‑retailer definitely belongs to the former camp, providing cut-price, high fashion alternatives to eye-wateringly pricey designer frames under its own moniker.
How a broad approach can work
But then there’s Eponym, which is also targeting consumers who want designer eyewear but is taking a radically different tack to Warby. Where Warby by focuses like a laser on its own brand, Eponym exists to serve other brands.
Any e‑commerce manager reading this is likely to be asking “how?” at this stage. Andrew Lipovsky, epoynm’s founder, offers a software platform (as-a-service) to handle an end-to-end process for designers wanting to launch their own unique lines, targeting the middle range consumer.
The team at Eponym begins working with brands at the outset, liaising closely with their design teams. Once the plans have been whipped into place, Eponym sets about building bespoke websites for them, powered by its own infrastructure.
Technically, Eponym is an umbrella company, and it’s one which has achieved remarkable success over the last three years, despite flying under the radar most of the time. It’s spent that time cultivating relationships and amassing distribution channels and is working with two brands – its own house brand, Classic Specs, as well as male eyewear designed by the famous Steven Alan (Steven Alan Optical).
And here’s the bottom line for the skeptical e‑commerce manager: Eponym’s platform-based business model has been a rip-roaring success. Lipovsky says that revenues are now expanding at a rate of 50 percent a month and promises the launch of “some exciting new things in the near future.”
One reason, no doubt, why it recently clinched a $1 million seed-funding round, with angel investors almost falling over themselves to participate, amongst them Garry Tan (the founder of Posterous and Y‑Combinator partner), Loopt’s co-founder, Sam Altman, and Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian.