In other e-commerce news, FTD’s CEO steps down and CommerceHub hires an industry veteran as chief operating officer.

Online fashion retailer Farfetch U.K. Ltd is buying Chinese digital marketing agency CuriosityChina to help sell luxury brands to consumers on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging service.

Farfetch, No. 24 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Online Marketplaces report, will integrate CuriosityChina into its services division, providing luxury retailers—such as shoe designer Manolo Blahnik—with packages of digital solutions. The marketing agency has been trying to boost its presence in China and made a significant step in that direction last year when Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Asia 500, bought a stake.

“We’ve been talking to luxury brands for years and every meeting we have they ask about China,” Giorgio Belloli, Farfetch’s chief commercial and sustainability officer, said in an interview. “Practically everything in China happens on WeChat.”

Following the deal, boutiques using Farfetch’s platform will be able to create stores on WeChat. Judy Liu, a co-founder of CuriosityChina, will become managing director in China. Farfetch also sells directly to consumers on its online shop and its own WeChat store, but it declined to provide financial details for this deal.

With China being one of the world’s fastest growing markets for upscale goods, makers of luxury goods and beauty products are learning to tailor to the digitally savvy Chinese. There are more than 1 billion active users of WeChat.

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“Consumers aren’t downloading 20 apps for 20 brands—they’re downloading a single marketplace app and that’s where business is going on mobile,” Belloli said. “Beyond China, we see this marketplace model proving successful globally.”

Created as an e-commerce portal for luxury boutiques, Farfetch has positioned itself between the technology and fashion industries, where competitor Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (No. 78 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500) has traditionally been a leader. The London-based company has increased the boutiques it partners with to over 900, almost doubling in a year.

In other e-commerce news:

  • CEO John Walden of flower and gift delivery service FTD, No. 138 in the Top 500, is stepping down from his role. He joined the retailer in February 2017 after a two-year stint as CEO of British retailer Home Retail Group. Scott Levin, currently FTD’s executive vice president, is stepping into the role of president and CEO on an interim basis. Meanwhile, FTD has eliminated the chief operating officer position.
    FTD acquired online florist ProFlowers and its sister brands Shari’s Berries and Personal Creations for $430 million in 2014, but it has struggled recently in the face of competition from startups offering flower arrangements at lower prices. It said in a news release last week that it plans to slash annual costs by $18 million to $23 million in 2019, in addition to cutting $4 million to $5 million in the second half of this year.

  • Drop-ship company CommerceHub Inc. has appointed Mike Amend as chief operating officer. Amend comes to CommerceHub after serving as executive vice president of omnichannel at J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (No. 31), vice president online at The Home Depot Inc. (No. 7), chief technology officer of global online at Dell and deputy chief technology officer at BEA Systems. At J.C. Penney, Amend led the expansion of product selection with drop-shipping and ship-from-store.
    “As COO, [Amend] will focus on accelerating product innovation and aligning our service and operations teams with our customers to help them leverage CommerceHub’s platform and network to grow revenue and expand merchandise assortments,” said Frank Poore, founder and CEO of CommerceHub. 58 retailers in the Top 1000 use CommerceHub for fulfillment, marketplace management and more, according to Top500Guide.com

Bloomberg contributed to this post.

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