September 30, 2019

Business Model Canvas – Farfetch

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#Fashion Farfetch

Farfetch is an online luxury fashion retailer, a company that pioneered a tech-driven model that doesn’t rely on owning inventory. They platformized the supply chain and created a new business model around high margins and fast turnover, shifting the retail fashion model in the process. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how they did it.

How does Farfetch make money?

Farfetch builds relationships with high-end fashion boutiques and brands, integrates them into their eCommerce back-end, and then sells their product to customers on Unlike other platforms that look similar – like Yoox – Farfetch does not bear any inventory cost. Their original business was built around an innovative, technology-driven retail model where they make 25% commission on the sale of the goods, plus another 8% if they fulfill the order.

The key innovation is a retail model that is technology-enabled but doesn’t rely on owning stock


The two customer profiles on the supply side are boutiques and brands. Boutiques do not have a website (or at least not a fully-functioning eCommerce site) and the brands opt to outsource their operations to Farfetch. Combined, it gives Farfetch a dynamic inventory of luxury fashion, both men’s and women’s, from around the world. CEO Jose Neves’s vision was built around the idea of ‘distributed stock‘ where a particular item could be ordered, shipped and delivered to a customer in another country or continent.

The model of the future is distributed stock. The new inventory is made up of dozens — hundreds, in our case — of micro-warehouses.


Farfetch went public (FTCH) September 21, 2018. As a result, they now report earnings each quarter and have subsequently reported around 3 revenue streams.

As Farfetch has grown in size, they have expanded their footprint, both online and into physical retail stores in select cities. Average order size has stayed ~$650 consistently over the last 5 years, meaning that they generate ~$150 USD in Platform Revenues per average fulfilled order, and then additional revenues on the back-end of the supply chain to deliver these orders.

Community-Centric or Commercial-Partner Strategy?

Beyond its business model, one thing that makes Farfetch unique compared to other tech startups is the fact that it’s a European-based brand that didn’t take any VC money from Silicon Valley. Part of the European story is the way that the company formed out of a community between Euro-based fashion brands and partners in London and Porto.

… there are many special moments but here is one that resonated particularly strongly when it happened, at one of the company’s “Gatherings”. José had pioneered the event early in the life of the company, to cement the relationship with our key partners, and create a stronger sense of community, gathering all the boutique owners and brands to Porto or London, once or twice a year for a couple of days (hundreds of people connecting). This was a great opportunity to meet many boutiques and brand owners, to explain the development of the Farfetch platform, and get feedback from users.


Jose Neves at DreamAssembly Incubator

This is one very interesting example where the foundations of the company are rooted in the community, yet the business model required partnerships to grow to scale. That’s because Farfetch’s main value proposition was the hybrid between fashion and technology, right-brain and left-brain, creatives and engineers. Given the need to take an order from a customer in New York, fulfil the order in Hong Kong, and then ship it to the customer in New York – multiplied by millions of orders – it was essential that Farfetch has strong partners in both the fashion and technology worlds.

 Interestingly, over the years and until the IPO, capital came essentially from European investors (Advent, Index, Felix or Vitruvian), strategic investors (such as Conde Nast, Chanel) and Asian investors (most recently The company did not raise money from Silicon Valley which did not connect culturally with the luxury and fashion opportunity 


Capital came from a mix of investors – European VCs, Strategic Investors and eCommerce companies. Talent was poached from fashion brands and media houses in the early years to help shape the brand. When the company crossed the Unicorn Mark of $1 billion valuation in 2015, they had a development team of more than 200, something no other fashion brand was doing. Nowadays, it has partnerships with major fashion brands such as Chanel, social-good platforms like Kiva (Positively Farfetch), and innovative pilot programs like Second Life where they aggregate second-hand goods for luxury retailers and offer users a credit to spend on Farfetch.

Forbes – AR and Fashion

Overall, we see a hybrid between a community-centric strategy within the fashion world and a commercial-partner strategy to help achieve scale. The competitive advantage linked to this strategy is that they have exclusivity with 98% of retailers on their platform.

Fundraising and Valuation

Farfetch went public last year, in Q3 of 2018, raising $885 million at a valuation of $6.2 billion – priced relative to its $385 million revenues in FY 2017. Despite surging 53% on its first day of trading, the company currently trades at a market cap of ~$2.5 billion due to investor concerns over its business model.

As we have seen is the trend in 2019 with Unicorns going public, concerns mount among Wall Street and large Financial Institutions around these companies abilities to generate significant and sustainable, long-term profits. In Q2 of 2019, the company lost $90 million. Furthermore, they spent $675 million on the New Guards Group acquisition in order to ‘future proof the business model’ by having an exclusive platform to launch new brands.

Prior to going public, between 2010 and 2017, the company raised approximately $700 million. Given the company’s successful IPO, those private investors would have all made money; however, the new group of public investors is underwater. The key challenges surrounding Farfetch’s business model in the current environment are three-fold: rising customer acquisition costs (CAC), lack of clarity on the revenue model given the new acquisitions, and deepening quarterly losses.

Vogue Business

Farfetch Business Model Canvas

A business model is defined as:

“the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value.”

Alex Osterwalder et al invented the Business Model Canvas to help individuals and organizations conceptualize how to analyze, create, and develop business models.

Explained - components of the canvas
Business Model Canvas - Index

Value Proposition

Future fashion retailer. Combines a zero-inventory eCommerce model with distributed bricks-and-mortar warehousing and sales

More than 3,000 curated brands for consumers

Boutique brands don’t have to build their own eCommerce channel

Customer Segments

Online spending power between Millennials and GenZ represented 85% of the growth in luxury fashion sales in 2017. The Millennials will overtake GenX as the largest spender in the luxury segment by 2025.

Research indicates that 72% of GenZ will spend money on a product or service that is ‘sustainably produced.’

Apparel, accessories, and handbags are dominating the resale marketplace, and 68% of women have bought or are willing to buy from a second-hand marketplace. *Farfetch has recently launched SecondLife

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Farfetch Margins + Unit Economics

Farfetch F1 – SEC
Farfetch F1 – SEC
Theta Equity – Farfetch CAC

Learn More about LTV and Unit Economics

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