The SPOT-A-SHOP office in central Helsinki resembles most startup spaces: spacious and trendy, with smart casual dressed young employees chatting in English in front of their laptops, all clustered around a communal table.
Apart from the coders. They’re sat in a separate, quiet room – with the door firmly closed.
“We’d disturb them far too much if they had to share the room with us,” company co-founder Matias Hilario says laughingly.
In the early days of the fashion sales site, Hilario and co-founder number two Jesse Jyläs worked in Jyläs’ flat. In just under two years, the company has moved house, and its team has expanded and grown more international. Since its first site was launched in July 2015, SPOT-A-SHOP has served approximately 1.5 million consumers.
The idea is as simple: to gather all fashion sales products onto the one site. An online shopper doesn’t need to glance through dozens of tabs to find out which retailer sells a winter jacket the cheapest, when the site shows them all at one go. Nothing normal priced, all on sale.
A win-win for both shops and shoppers
SPOT-A-SHOP currently serves shopaholics in Finland, France and Germany. Jyläs and Hilario wanted to hire native speakers to make sure all nuances are taken into account. Entering new language areas will always mean new recruits.
The list of available stores is impressive, including online retail giants such as Zalando, Boozt and Ellos. The company generates its revenue through the traffic it diverts to the sites of its customers. The shoppers themselves can compare all available shops and do refined searches amongst brands, shoe sizes, colours and the like.
Those seriously hunting for proper discounts can set sales alerts for such things as certain brands or product types. The logic is similar to flight or travel search engines.
“We often refer to SPOT-A-SHOP as the ‘Momondo of fashion’,” Hilario explains. “If someone is looking for a parka but doesn’t know where to look, our service will always find the most affordable option.”
Jyläs points out that SPOT-A-SHOP is a win-win for both shoppers and shops. The customers are already at the end of the purchase funnel when they get directed to the retailer’s site from SPOT-A-SHOP.
“The fashion cycle is so rapid; many online stores have half of their stock on sale at all times,” he says. “Sale items are no longer last season, but stores need to get them sold to make room for upcoming collections. Our site works as an additional marketing channel for what’s already on sale, and there is less need for further price reductions.”
Opening new shop doors
Currently the company collaborates with over 150 retailers. In the three markets put together, the shopper has access to hundreds of thousands of fashion items.
There are constant negotiations with more and more online stores to be included. The nine-person team can handle a lot of traffic, because the actual purchases are made through, and customer service is provided by, the online stores themselves.
“We don’t need stocks or distribution networks as essentially we serve as an additional marketing channel,” Jyläs says. “That’s why we’re cost-effective for not only shoppers but our customers, the stores, too.”
The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes* has been closely involved in developing the concept, and the company also has received support from angel investors. Currently there is an ongoing funding round, which will dictate the coming steps.
Germany and France are looking promising, and the duo has already eyed more international doors to knock on.
“With the ongoing funding round, we’re looking for extra muscle for the new market entries,” Jyläs says.
If all goes to plan, next year SPOT-A-SHOP will be present in several new areas – and there might be less elbow space to play with around the communal table, as new members join in the chatter.
*Part of Business Finland since 2018