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May 12th: are you ready for a Vente-Privee in the US?! May 3, 2011

Posted by Phil Jeudy in e-commerce.
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AFP said yesterday that Vente-Privee.com may announce on May 12th its launch in the US.

If you’re French, you already know what Vente-Privee.com is. In the US, you probably know what Vente-Privee.com is since Amazon declared they were interested to buy this Company (rumors, rumors…).

Vente-Privee.com has been founded in 2001, but the Team worked on the concept of online flash sales a while ago before. They created the concept of flash sales, developed it through categories of products, brands, then exported it in different countries (Germany, Spain, UK…). Vente-Privee.com is so far more than 1,500 employees, and a revenue of $1,3 Billion, a growth with 2 digits in percentage. All processes are made internally, and they developed a culture of excellence in their choice of technology. They launched their iPhone application very lately in 2010, and they are still not on Android market place.

Their business was very profitable, due to the vertuous “working capital” effect (they receive the payment from clients before paying suppliers), and very succesful due to their recruitment policy (you have to be sponsored to become a member). I remember SEGA in France back in 2005 or so really hesitating to work with them while I was there, then finally really happy to get rid on some sleeping inventory. Now it’s really a good place to launch a product: such an achievement!

I had the chance to visit VP HeadQuarters in La Plaine Saint Denis: the culture of this Company seems like the “Company of the Third Type” I was reading in 80’s (please read the book from Georges Archier et Herve Serieyx). No need to go to Las Vegas to discover the culture as a management tool with Zappos, Vente-Privee.com did achieve something on this matter near Paris a long time ago. You can notice a very special atmosphere, like a company, as one man, working on making the company bigger better… and its rentability still a reality. You can see Jacques-Antoine Granjon‘s art collection everywhere, which is very rare in France, you do not mix your personal stuffs and your company, neither show your social status. It’s not a reason to say that he’s eccentric, he’s just doing his stuff the way he wants (there is always one guy in my country to remind you that you’re different, so cliche). No one cares. Vente-Privee.com is a Tribe.

They have a strong HR policy, you can grow with the company. They have internalized all the processes from all IT & web operations, pictures, videos, communication. They control the whole production chain in order to be able to launch so many collections every week!

By the end of 2010, sale-privee.com has inaugurated the “Digital Factory“, the first image production complex in Europe, 3.800m2, client number 1 for modeling agencies, fully dedicated to the creation of brand showcases, with 260 employees who work there to produce digital content.

Now the US. The partner mentioned as a worldwide company will not be Amazon. They just launched Myhabit.com, amongst different things since the rumor And a rumor is not necessarily becoming a reality (I can be wrong, I don’t care). But it’s obvious they need a partner.

They need to get still the growth they were used to in France. The competition is becoming big in Europe, so the missing % will come easily from the US. Or might come, because: they did not wait for you guys. Gilt Group, eBay and many others (I did identify 20 competitors like HauteLook, Editor’s Closet, Zulily …), Facebook (ok, I do anticipate) are very active, and they’re Americans. Even VoyagePrive started before you… Every day, I realize how different Europe and the US are 2 different markets in many domains, and the expertise you can have on e-commerce in Europe won’t be your main asset for sure.

Mr Granjon, you may have the DNA of Flash sale in you, it will not be sufficient. Gilt Group ($500 Millions?!) proved they have a big traction so far, and they won’t let you go your way. It’s amazing to see how small companies and startups can achieve in less than 2 years in the US (hey Groupon: any Flash Sales in your roadmap? Milo, how are things at eBay?) So let’s see the name of this partner, because you have to mix your own DNA with a US one to succeed. Look around, and tell me which Frenchies did make it happen here.

Last thing: I’m very curious to see where Vente-Privee.com will implement their HQ in the US. If I was Vente-Privee.com, I would try Silicon Valley. No because of this enlightenment attitude and so cliche self-centric behavior in HighTech here. I think they can challenge this industry in its own country, but with its own weapons. And there are in the West Coast, not the East Cost, for sure.

Why? Well ask me offline, I’ll tell you.

“Build a $14 Billion company”. Why not Mr Granjon?! But it was more than urgent that you come in the US. I wish you all the best here.

By the way, how is Microsoft doing on the e-commerce ecosystem?

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