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“We want to be the first port of call for brand-conscious and value-conscious Gen Z and millennial consumers,” said Justin Seskin, one of TheDOM.com’s co-founders, along with Thrills director Howard Blend and It Works managing director Paul Downs.
Seskin, whose father, JD Sports Australia chairman Hilton Seskin, is a strategic advisor to TheDOM.com, declined to name the brands that will be available at launch, but said the team has been “hand-picking” the ones it wants to work with.
“We’ve done a lot of deep research into our target audience. We know what’s important to them,” he told Inside Retail.
“It’s super important to speak their language and provide an experience and an environment that is comfortable and relevant to them and consistent with their values.”
Solving the ‘dirty’ side of discounting
The idea for TheDOM.com came to Seskin last year, when stores were forced to close and discretionary spending dropped off due to Covid-19. As general manager of eyewear brand Carolina Lemke Berlin, he had a lot of surplus stock and felt there wasn’t a good way to clear it.
“I’ve always questioned why there aren’t any off-price channels that maintain brand integrity,” he said. “Existing options are problem-solving, but most often they’re dirty and brand-damaging.”
Traditional discounters like Catch, where brands often clear their end-of-line products, tend to focus on rock-bottom prices, which, over time, can impact customers’ perception of the brands they’re buying.
“I think the nature of the off-price industry in Australia is very much, let’s make the biggest noise and shout [that we have] the biggest discount and clear product,” he said. “There’s no real care, or thought for the brand, and that’s something that we want to change.”
In contrast, TheDOM.com plans to provide an “inspirational” and “elevated” shopping experience through its site design and tone of voice. This is intended to not only appeal to Gen Z and millennial customers, but also improve outcomes for brands.
“We believe that [if we] put that product in the right environment with complementary brands [in a way] that’s not dirty, that’s not damaging but actually inspirational or elevated, the brand’s going to be able to sell that same product at a higher price,” Seskin said.
Taking the offline experience online
To make off-price shopping feel more elevated, Seskin has borrowed a concept from the world’s leading shopping centres.
“I’ve always admired a well-curated shopping centre, where you’ve got your luxury brands in one place and street brands in another place and food in another place. As a customer, you know where you’re going, and you know which area of the shopping centre is right for you,” he said.
By replicating this idea online, Seskin believes it will speed up the path to purchase, because shoppers won’t have to scroll through thousands of different SKUs to find what they’re looking for, and help smaller brands get discovered, because customers will see them sitting alongside complementary big brands in the same precinct.
“Each precinct will have its own personality, look and feel, imagery, colours, tone of voice and language to talk to a consumer subset,” Seskin said.
Another differentiator between TheDOM.com and existing discount platforms is the fact that it aims to consolidate all off-price activity in one location.
“From tactical promotions, to markdowns, to engineered lines – similar to what you might see in an outlet mall, for example – all the way through to clearance,” Seskin said.
“If we can deliver that more balanced offer, it’s going to be a better proposition for the customer, as well as brands.”
Increasing reach and preserving margin
TheDOM.com plans to take a cut of every sale in exchange for driving traffic and facilitating transactions, while brands will be responsible for storing inventory and fulfilling orders.
Given the already slim margins on discounted stock, Seskin described TheDOM.com’s cut as “competitive” and said the platform will actually help brands preserve profit by avoiding additional markdowns.
“Everyone might go 30 per cent off on their first markdown, but their reach is limited. Our reach is going to be far wider,” he said.
“If we can increase the eyeballs, we can presumably sell through that product at that initial discount, which means brands don’t need to go to 50 or 70 per cent off and flog their last pieces to some of those dirty discounters.”
In addition to Blend and Downs, marketing expert Andrew ‘Billy’ Baxter, the former CEO of Ogilvy Australia and Publicis Worldwide Australia, is a strategic investor in the business.
While TheDOM.com will only be available in Australia at launch, Seskin said he is already exploring opportunities to expand the business to New Zealand, the UK and Europe.