Ong Chin Huat speaks to OntheList co-founder Diego Dultzin Lacoste about his unique flash sale platform that is causing huge ripples in the retail sphere.
Who can’t resist a bargain? Which shopaholic doesn’t like a sale? None, it appears. The good news is there is now somewhere where the savviest of shoppers can find what they want. OnTheList is Asia’s first independent members-only ‘flash sale’ concept and is the brainchild of the husband and wife team Diego Dultzin Lacoste and Delphine Lefay.
With flash sales offering the best deals from designer labels and well-known household brands with up to 90 per cent off the regular retail price, premium brands such as Jimmy Choo, Le Creuset, Longchamp, Armani, Ted Baker, Furla, UGG and Foreo, to name a few, are within the grasp of all members of this exclusive bargain hunters’ club.
Founded in Hong Kong back in 2016, OnTheList is the first to offer this unique concept of independent, members-only flash sales in Asia. All shoppers need to do is sign up for free on their website to get insider access and purchase exclusive deals, which are usually held once a week and feature different international well-known brands from categories such as apparel, accessories, beauty, skincare, cosmetics and homeware.
Once signed up, members will receive personal e-invitations to access flash sales which has an average 75 per cent discount off the retail price. So far, OnTheList has worked with over 700 of the world’s leading luxury brands and official distributors and sold over 2 million luxury items worldwide.
Apart from the considerable savings for members, this shopping platform also offers brands the chance to connect with a broader and more varied consumer base, allowing them to interact and communicate via the flash sale platform. Additionally, the brands can clear excess stock from their inventory and free up valuable warehouse space.
More importantly, these flash sales promote sustainability and environmentalism, preventing unsold goods and past season items from ending up in landfills.
Diego Dultzin Lacoste, a co-founder of OnTheList, speaks exclusively to Luxurious Magazine about the inner workings of OnTheList and what some of their most successful sales have been.
Luxurious Magazine: Could you tell us how the idea of OnTheList came about?
Diego: Before launching OnTheList, we were working for various brands in the retail industry and often encountered brands destroying inestimable amounts of perfectly new items from previous collections. We wanted to offer a solution for both brands and consumers, so that perfectly good stock did not go to waste in this manner.
We also had to keep in line with maintaining the exclusivity of the brand image. Thus, OnTheList was launched as Asia’s first independent members-only Flash Sale Concept, which provided a platform for brands to clear excess inventory and reduce wastage while finding a new purpose for these past season products sustainably.
Additionally, we wanted to create a platform to be able to encourage a circular economy by creating a good value proposition for savvy shoppers. The consumer has access to the best deals across a large assortment of authentic products at their fingertips. We only work with brand principals or their official distributors and believe we are playing a part in minimising waste.
LM: Briefly explain what OnTheList is all about and how it benefits consumers.
Diego: OnTheList concept is members-only Flash Sales, giving exclusive access to premium brands at very attractive prices. Once you register, which is free, OnTheList Members get weekly invitations to shop with unbeatable prices across many categories. Flash Sales are typically available for a limited time, generally for a few days to 7 days.
OnTheList typically has a weekly flash sales calendar which creates regular newness and excitement for members to look forward to. Our Members get access to a comprehensive list of international brands across multiple categories, including well-known designer brands, apparel, beauty, accessories, skincare, wine & champagne, watches and jewellery, homeware, stationery and more.
These include mid-range to premium and luxury brands all in one site! The advantage of an invitation-only model is it gives us access to luxury brands that you may not find elsewhere, increasing the range of attractive deals that we can offer.
LM: How many countries have OnTheList got a presence in at the moment? Any plans for further expansion?
Diego: OnTheList is now available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul, Australia, Taiwan and now Malaysia. Thailand is the next market we will be launching, and we are gearing to expand to more cities in China.
We are also exploring the right moment to launch permanent or pop up showrooms in new markets as well. We are encouraged by the response and look forward to growing our local membership base over the next years.
LM: How do you go about obtaining these brands at the prices you are offering?
Diego: In addition to offering a way of disposing of old stock, we provide a one-stop solution to clear past season inventory in order to save brands warehouse costs & space; OnTheList also offers brands access to a wider consumer base which gives them access to a different target audience. As OnTheList flash sales offer past-season premium goods at heavily reduced prices, more consumers will have access to the premium brands that they normally would not be able to afford.
A lot of emphases has been put on growing our member base. This is certainly a key element in providing an alternative qualified database and communities for brands to reach out to, which brands are keen to tap into.
LM: How long has OnTheList been operating, and what are the most popular and successful flash sales you have done in the past?
Diego: OnTheList was founded in 2016 in Hong Kong. During this time, the first Dr Martens Flash Sales in Hong Kong created a lot of buzz. Once the news got out, we experienced a huge online crowd, and our registration system went down overnight! We had to get it back up quickly as we didn’t expect such a huge surge! Another successful Flash Sale was with Havaianas – we marked a milestone of selling one pair of flip flops every 6 seconds!
Since its inception, OnTheList has worked with over 700 of the world’s leading premium lifestyle official distributors and luxury brands and has sold over 2 million items internationally.
LM: How do you ensure the goods on offer are authentic and of sufficient quantity to make a profit?
Diego: OnTheList works directly with brands and distributors, ensuring the products’ authenticity and best deals to hold flash sales as a third-party between brand and consumer. We will also provide stock & price strategy based on the brand to ensure this is a win-win solution for all parties, as well as providing the ultimate flash sale experience to our members.
LM: Why did you decide to launch the Sale from Hong Kong as opposed to France, where both the founders hail from?
Diego: We are based in Hong Kong and noticed that there was a lack of options for distributors and brands to clear old inventory that was occupying valuable warehouse space, especially in Hong Kong and Asia. We held over 30 pop-up flash sales at convenient venues and warehouses across Hong Kong, working with over 50 brands within our first year of inception.
As the flash sales grew more popular and our acquisition of database was increasing, we opened a bricks-and-mortar two-storey showroom on Duddell Street in Central Hong Kong in March 2017. The location is on prime real estate, demonstrating the success of its unique business model in Hong Kong.
By 2017, we had held over 80 flash sales with over 100 brands. The membership increased to 120,000+ members. And we continued to refine the offerings and omnichannel experience online, setting up an online store for flash sales. In December 2017, we experimented with the first flash sale on the other side of the Harbour – Kowloon. With the encouragement and support of brands as well, OnTheList identified various markets across Asia to expand OnTheList offerings.
LM: How much lower are the prices for the brands sold at OnTheList compared to buying it at retail?
Diego: The discounts differ from brand and categories with up to 95% discount being offered.
LM: Why did you decide to make OnTheList a member-only sales portal?
Diego: A member-only basis allows us to have a better understanding of our customers’ needs, better communication and segmentation when we are carrying a wide range of products; it also helps on better control of members’ access and arrangements, especially when having luxury brand flash sales, giving some sort of exclusivity to the consumer.
LM: In your experience, which category is the most popular thus far?
Diego: All categories sell well as we put a lot of thought, research and effort to select brands with high desirability, great offers and always very attractive prices. That’s why OnTheList members rush to get in at the beginning of a Flash Sale to make sure to find the best deal before it sells out!
LM: What are the main challenges both of you have faced so far running OnTheList?
Diego: To organise the flash sales, especially in new markets, the main challenge is also to convince the brands to work with us so we can partner with them to find solutions for their excess inventory. Thankfully with our strong and supportive network of partners across the Asia Pacific region, we have been able to overcome such challenges.
With the onset of COVID, it was obvious that fewer people would be heading out to the stores to shop, so we placed a strong focus on online opportunities. To make everything as simple as possible, we are currently in the process of enhancing our e-commerce website.
For further information and to become a member of OnTheList, please visit http://my.onthelist-store.com/.
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