28 June 2016

How to innovate in online retail

Retailers are battling to stand out in the crowded online space. Snap Fashion CEO Jenny Griffiths reveals how her start-up beat the odds.

International Festival for Business 2016

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Retailers are battling to stand out in the crowded online space. Snap Fashion CEO Jenny Griffiths reveals how her start-up beat the odds.

Snap Fashion was founded in 2012 and offered customers a unique proposition as the world's first cross-platform visual search engine for fashion. Customers simply search for clothes using photos and buy products in a couple of clicks.

Given the volume of consumers carrying phones and the hectic pace of everyday life, Snap Fashion's fast, intuitive service came at the opportune moment. Users have responded well and the site now enjoys a quarter of a million searches each month.

CEO Jenny Griffiths has experienced the company grow from a small operation to its recent win of £1m in funding from Innovate UK as part of a plan to revitalise the UK high street.

To understand the company's rise to success, Griffiths shares five key insights that have helped Snap Fashion grow.

  1. The company continues to develop its innovative search function to stay ahead of competitors who may try and replicate the feature. Griffiths says that this invariably becomes difficult as Snap Fashion explores expansion in new areas.
  2. There is still a divide between online shopping and the high street experience. One key focus for Griffiths is to retain customers by replicating the same emotional connection shoppers get when buying from bricks and mortar stores.
  3. Griffiths stresses the need for a strong revenue model. “In Silicon Valley, people think it's enough to have the right metrics and data to impress investors. What often distinguishes British businesses is coming up with a secure revenue stream to rely on,” she explains.
  4. Start-ups often begin with the founder's initial concept, but Griffiths feels a company is defined by the first ten people it hires. She typically looks for applicants who think in `strange' ways, come up with new ideas, and are passionate about fashion.
  5. Looking forward, Griffiths feels that instant gratification will become a real driver in years to come. She highlights Amazon Now's one-hour delivery concept as a prime example of advanced customer service online.

In Silicon Valley, people think it’s enough to have the right metrics and data to impress investors. What often distinguishes British businesses is coming up with a secure revenue stream to rely on

Jenny Griffiths, CEO, Snap Fashion

Key takeaways

  1. While it is important to focus on current innovations in online retail, Griffiths suggests that start-ups must also consider cutting-edge developments such as 3D Printing and wearable technology.
  2. Evolving your in-house tech to meet consumer demands could help retention. Griffiths reveals that Snap Fashion is still the only online retailer that enables users to search by body shape.
  3. How can your firm replicate the experience and service of high street shopping through innovative means? Griffiths underlines the importance of creating an emotional connection by blurring lines between the two.

For further information about trading internationally, visit the HSBC Connections Lounge at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool where an HSBC Trade Specialist will be on hand to answer your questions or call +44 (0)800 78 31 300.

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