Whether vintage, discounted or premium brands – on the Swedish platform Afound, fashion-enthusiastic customers will find everything their hearts desire. And that online as well as offline! This includes brands of the parent company H&M as well as third-party brands that merchants or manufacturers can connect to the platform via the partner programme. We talked to Sara Eriksson, Fashion Director and Daniel Hansson, Head of B2B Sales about the concept of Afound, sustainability and the cooperation with Tradebyte.
Tradebyte: Afound is not only the latest project, but also the first platform concept of the H&M group. What is the story behind the decision to open a platform and what vision does Afound have for the future?
Sara Eriksson: Afound is a new customer offer that gives great fashion new life in an outlet like you’ve never seen it before. By offering a selection of all the H&M group brands combined with external brands, always at a great price, we aim to become a paradise for style and deal hunters.
Daniel Hansson: For this goal, the marketplace model enables many positive aspects. It’s a fast way to give our partners new selling opportunities and offer new customers a broad and attractive assortment – without any structural boundaries. This unlocks the possibility for scalability and speed to market. Of course we are always handpicking both partners and assortment.
A special characteristic of Afound is that you are not only selling online, but also opened offline stores. What is the idea behind this concept?
Daniel: Afound is a digital marketplace with the possibility to buy overstock and sell those products via e-commerce but also in our physical stores. Today, we have a multichannel offer that aims to pick up customers where they are. And our physical stores are a great way to introduce our concept, as well as to offer a wide range of sales opportunities for the sellers.
Why did Afound decide to sell not only H&M group brands but also external brands for the first time?
Sara: A marketplace model that allows us to combine external brands with all the internal brands of the H&M group offers a great opportunity for all involved.
Daniel: It is also a great potential for an established fashion group like H&M to create an entirely new brand on the market. This brand is targeting off-price and is offering a combination of brands ranging from discount to premium in combination with a marketplace model. There are many disruptive aspects in this which created a very positive interest.
You want to give fashion new life. Can you tell us more about your focus on sustainability?
Sara: Afound is all about giving great fashion new life. Regardless to whether the product is from this season, last season or vintage, we are presenting it in a new way, together with other products, and in a new style – giving it new life. We are also on an exciting journey to make it easy for our customers to make sustainable fashion choices. Offering products from previous seasons and overstock is one way. Another way is to make it possible for customers to hand in worn-out garments and to offer easy ways to extend the lifespan of their garments. Therefore we just launched a few Afound products such as sneaker wipes and conscious laundry detergent.
Daniel: We are constantly exploring different ways of expanding the lifespan of fashion. I think we have a lot of possibilities and we are at the very beginning of this movement. It’s a movement of the whole fashion industry and for us it is a natural part of our DNA. We also see that our customers really like our concept and the selective mix of products that we offer is a smart way to give great fashion new life and prolong its life cycle.
How does your cooperation with Tradebyte work and what are your wishes for the future regarding this partnership?
Daniel: For Afound, which is a part of the H&M group, we think it’s very important to connect and collaborate with an established player such as Tradebyte since we want to maintain scalability and keep up the speed. The marketplace model is constantly expanding in this every day changing world in which we want to grow and expand. Our partnership with you is a great enabler. In our partnership, Tradebyte will seek to provide distributors, manufacturers and top brands for Afound’s marketplace model. Therefore we are offering our partners an ecosystem with more than 650 vendors. For this purpose, Tradebyte enables the seamless connection of manufacturers, traders and retailers in the digital supply chain with standardised SaaS solutions, best practice expertise and professional workflows.