Now in its fourth year of business, the London-based startup Lyst has raised $40 million from investors — including, for the first time, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault's private holding company, Groupe Arnault.
In case you haven't used it before, Lyst is an aggregator for fashion products that lets you shop across literally thousands of designers and stores by color, style, size, discount, you name it. If you want to see all the purple maxi skirts the Internet has to offer, it helps you get damn near close. (Shopstyle, which some of you may have used, is similar in this respect.) And that more-is-more model seems to be working: Lyst CEO Chris Morton says that at this juncture, the company is doing $150 million in sales annually for its retail partners, compared to $40 million the year before.
A good portion of the new funds will go toward the international expansion of Lyst's universal checkout feature, which lets customers shop across multiple retailers in a single order. Not everything on Lyst's site is available for one cart checkout, but the number is pretty decent: In the U.S., there are about 400,000 items to choose from. The startup already has dedicated websites for the U.S. and the UK — the former representing 70 percent of sales overall — and Canadian and Australian sites are coming in the near future. Morton says that because Lyst doesn't stock inventory, expansion isn't easy, necessarily, but it is relatively straightforward once it's brought retail partners on board and worked out the idiosyncrasies of customs.
Though it's technically strong, Lyst is investing in building up its brand and strengthening its ties to the fashion world, which is why that Groupe Arnault investment is so helpful. ("It's a significant point of validation," Morton says.) In February of last year, Lyst inked a deal with Mary Katrantzou to exclusively sell 10 looks from the designer's resort collection, a nice way to create added value for shoppers. The plan is now to launch a minimum of two promotions each month.
The partnerships are a smart way for Lyst to differentiate itself from the competition and prove its worth to the fashion community. Among its peer group, it's certainly not the only one that's got investors' attention. Just last month, the online boutique network Farfetch raised another $86 million to fuel its global expansoin, and earlier this month the mobile-only brand aggregator Spring, which also counts Groupe Arnault as a backer, closed $25 million. But the more, the merrier, right?