Price cuts, red tags and capital ‘SALE’ letters are what OnTheList are reimagining in Hong Kong. Parisian duo Diego Lacoste and Delphine Lefay are determinedly redefining Hong Kong’s discount shopping culture.
Born and raised in France, Diego and Delphine share a background in retail. The duo moved to Hong Kong during the end of 2014 and founded OnTheList at the start of 2016. Diego tells us how establishing the brand was easy, but finding business partners proved to be rather more problematic. “The hardest part was convincing brands to trust in our business model,” the French entrepreneur explains. On top of that, the couple were initially afraid that OnTheList would only be appealing to expats. Luckily, their new permanent location in Central – just a couple blocks away from the Hive Central – has abated this early concern, as the move resulted in locals quickly signing up to their members list and popping down to the store either before or after work – early opening hours of 8am and quick checkouts have both made their destination an easy one to visit either before or during a break in work hours.
When it comes to sales, OnTheList has a proven track record of attracting large crowds due to their enticing price cuts of up to 80%. They manage these huge discounts by taking old stock or past season items from selected brands and generating a small revenue for these companies by selling them through flash sales. Diego explains, “It’s fast revenue for them, and at the end of the day nothing is being destroyed because no one wants them.” Describing it as a win-win situation for both the company and the brands the couple reach out to, OnTheList is becoming a viable and efficient option for brands who want to sell their past season items, rather than simply destroying them. Despite this, both Diego and Delphine highlight how it’s still difficult to convince brands to get onboard. “There were some brands that took us over a year to convince to sell their items through us, but now we’re working alongside the likes of Ted Baker, Kenzo, and Marc Jacobs.”
The toughest challenge, they explain, is coming up with a proposal for these companies and making them see that selling their old stock through OnTheList is worth their while. Diego tells us how some brands are anxious to guard their exclusive reputation and would rather see their past season items destroyed than sold at a discounted price. Despite this, OnTheList still has managed to get high-end brands on board as partners thanks to their large number of members and impressive database of over 130,000 members. Having run their business initially in a series of monthly pop-ups, switching to a full-time retail space on prestigious Duddell Street in Hong Kong’s central district where they now run weekly events also helped to allay some of the luxury brands’ fears about partnering with a flash sale outfit.
Given Hong Kong’s close proximity to mainland China, the city naturally attracts a strong and wealthy crowd from the mainland who tend to look for the more high-end luxury brands, such as those that can be found via OnTheList. But it is the local community that makes up the majority of OnTheList’s customer base, “People in Hong Kong love good products. They will always look for companies that offer a 5 per cent extra discount when they are out shopping. They are very smart shoppers.” During one particular event, over 3,000 people turned up in the space of a week in a clear indication of the company’s ever-increasing market demand.
With regards to how the entrepreneurs measure success, Diego laughs, “when Delphine is happy.” But on a more serious note, he places a heavy emphasis on teamwork and customer satisfaction. “When we see members come in with smiles on their faces, and then buy a few things in-store, this can also be seen as a mark of success.” The couple are always looking for new ways to run their business better by paying attention to the little things, such as the presentation of their store and how happy the team is working together. In the future, they have ambitions to move their store online as a means of improving efficiency and increasing the amount of stock available. Stay tuned for more exclusive releases.
Address: Printing House, 6 Duddell St, Central
Telephone: +852 2983 8122