A Marketplace that goes beyond borders
The H&M Group is bringing ‘Afound', it’s concept outlet marketplace platform , to Germany and Austria today.
First launched in Sweden two years ago, H&M’s sustainability-focused Afound was designed to provide their customers the best deals, while granting fashion products a second life. The marketplace quickly gained traction. Anchored in leveraging the circular fashion economy -- providing clothes, shoes and lifestyle products from over 300 well-known brands (which include their own H&M, COS, Weekday, Cheap Monday, Monki and & Other Stories) -- Afound is able to offer a growing assortment of already produced goods at affordable prices.
And the marketplace strategy paid off. Afound grasped the opportunity to expand into the Netherlands, opening their online site in October of 2019 to Dutch customers. They haven’t stopped there -- announcing today, Afound plans on welcoming German and Austrian fashion-lovers to their mindful fashion marketplace starting today.
“We have great partners with us on this journey that share the same vision and goals as we do. Together, we can be part of tightening the loop and contribute in the shift to a more circular fashion industry.” Joanna Hummel, Managing Director at Afound said in their press release this week.
From mono-brand group to multi-national platform
H&M Group saw the opportunity to transform from a majority mono-brand group and add a multi-brand retailer to their portfolio. Afound shifted the strategy of the group to have their first multi brand name. The agility of the new platform allowed them to quickly onboard and partner with new brands like Adidas. In their first two years, they leveraged the marketplace to test new items and learn from their growing customer base. Today, Afound has six times the number of sellers on their marketplace than when they went live.
After two years of positive results, experimenting with product categories and offers, they are “looking forward to enabling more customers to discover Afound.” The flexibility of Afound’s marketplace model also plays into their growth strategy by allowing them to expand into new territories without physically having to ship or hold stock in those countries.
Retail invests in the circular economy globally
Afound is one of several examples of efforts currently being launched by major fashion companies to encourage a more sustainable and circular apparel industry, in a bid to cut down on waste and cater to increasingly conscientious consumers. Other notable brands with sustainable-first mindsets include American brands like Patagonia and Levi’s, and elsewhere across Europe with Friends of Joules, People Tree, and Rêve En Vert.
A sustainable, growing omnichannel strategy
The Swedish retailer has already benefited from the growth inth the reseller market and expansion is a natural next step. The total secondhand apparel market is set to double in 5 years, with the resale section driving this growth of $24B to $51B. The agility of their platform enables the Afound team identify and partner with resellers of luxury premium brands to be able to give their customers access to more without the negative impact. The brand now counts multiple physical stores in Sweden, as well as an online presence in the Netherlands -- and the expansion to Germany and Austria is the second step in its long-term European strategy.