Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

High fashion meets high-tech

Discount clothing site brings French bargain model to North America

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When you think of fashion the first thing that pops into mind is certainly not technology. But when you think about it, technology plays a key role in the world of fashion from textile production to online sales.

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FP: What's Beyond The Rack all about?

YS: Every single day we launch between 18 and 20 events or sample sales. We work with the brands to help them liquidate their excess inventory and we do that by promoting those events to our members. The reason people join Beyond The Rack is so that they can buy brands that they know and love at discounts anywhere from 45 to 90 per cent off retail pricing.

FP: Everyone likes a good deal, but why opt for online when you can hit a place like Marshalls or Winners?

YS: Customers like the experience -- the whole concept is about democratizing the sample sale. Brands are always looking to get rid of their excess goods in a manner other than putting it into a Winners store, where you kinda never know what it's going to be next to, you never know what price it's going to be, the assortment can kinda be wonky, you really don't have a lot of control over your brand.

FP: Democratizing the sample sale -- interesting concept.

YS: I wish I can lay claim to the idea, but it was really started by a group of people in France in 2002. We thought it was such a great idea that we had to bring it to North America. We saw that the flash sales business model was really taking off in Europe and other parts of the world and when we started the business in 2008, we said you know this is such a compelling business model.

FP: What is the criteria for selecting the brands?

YS: When we first started we worked with the brands that wanted to work for us. The good news for us and our customers is that has expanded quite significantly since then. Today we deal with about 5,000 different brands.

FP: What kinds of brands do you feature?

YS: The assortment is really broad. You will find everything from the top designers you would find at a Holts or Saks Fifth Avenue to something you may find at The Bay or Macy's. You can buy a $1,500 purse or a $17 dress.

FP: Any brands stand out as more popular than others?

YS: Our brands love us but they don't like us to promote them. That said, I invite everyone to check out the assortment it changes absolutely every day and you won't be disappointed.

FP: How can fashionista's out in the cybersphere sign-up?

YS: You have to register that takes about five seconds, the only thing we require is an email. We are also about to launch an iPhone and iPad app which will go live in a couple weeks.

Got a suggestion for a future column or a fashion trend worth following? Email Connie Tamoto at connietamotofashion@hotmail.com

CALL OUT:

BEYOND THE RACK STATS & FIGURES

óè Nine million members in Canada and the U.S.

óè One third of shipments come from Winnipeg or central Canada

óè Three-thousand items are shipped each day

óè Eighty per cent of revenue comes from repeat customers

óè Forty per cent of customers access the site from a mobile device

óè Beyond The Rack ships more bed linens and shoes than any one else

in Canada

óè It takes 450 employees to run the site from marketing to buying to

fulfilling orders

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2013 D13

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