Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In the battle for retailers to become the online shopping destination of choice, access to prestige and luxury brands is considered an important asset. Amazon has had difficulty courting luxury brands, while flash-sale sites like Gilt, which once had plenty of luxury inventory, have fallen out of favor with shoppers thanks to its now-outdated business model.
Today, eBay announced its own play for luxury by inking a deal with Spring, the three-year-old shopping app and website that’s raised $100 million in funding from companies like Snapchat and Fidelity. Spring works directly with more than 1,500 brands, including Prada, Chloe, and Saint Laurent — luxury brands that are notoriously careful about their distribution strategies. Spring will now have its own landing page on eBay where customers can browse through its inventory.
That eBay isn’t just partnering directly with the luxury brands Spring carries might speak to how hard it is to broker these relationships. And while Spring has formed these relationships, now it’s unclear why the retailer will need its own e-commerce site if it’s also posting inventory to eBay. But if Spring’s main goal is reach, turning to eBay makes sense: The 22-year-old company has 171 million active users and drives tens of billions of dollars in sales across all categories. According to Recode, Spring expects to surpass $100 million worth of sales this year, but that’s a small fraction of what fashion competitors like Net-a-Porter or Nordstrom sell (Nordstrom brought in $14.4 billion last year, and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group made $605.5 million in North America).
As Mashable noted last year, Spring had a cool factor when it first launched due to the luxury brands it stocked, but its cachet has faded, and it is still not profitable. Spring struggled to draw in users, even going so far as to strike up partnerships like Kim Kardashian’s game app. It also went through somewhat of an identity crisis — first launching as a luxury shopping site, then bringing on thousands of brands only to purge to the 1,500 it has now — as well as a recent shuffling of management, according to Digiday.
The marriage of eBay’s massive user base with Spring’s fashion industry cachet could make for an interesting shopping experience — and, at the very least, leave Amazon a little green with envy.