The co-founders, Pierre-Louis Lacoste, Nicolas d’Audiffret, Nicolas Cohen, and Mathieu Alengrin, all come from e-commerce. And yet, given the weight of online retail giants, they aimed to help independent points of sale reclaim their power with both technical and financial tools.
The Ankorstore system is based on a new concept aimed to help 250,000 independent retailers in Europe, 40% of which are in France, get secure access to a catalogue of European brands in seven product categories (beauty, grocery, home, children’s products, fashion, jewellery, and stationery).
An exclusive value proposition
For stores, the minimum order amount is set at 100 euros only – this deliberately low limit helps them test products and prevent overstock. Delivery is free: it triggers a payment to be made to the platform within up to 60 days to compensate for retailers’ cash flow issues.
For the 20,000 brands already referenced in Europe, all categories included, Ankorstore offers instantaneous visibility online as part of its broad network. In addition, shipping costs are refunded and invoice payments automatically generated as soon as the delivery has been made to the store.
“This way, brands are protected against non-payment risk,” explains Lily Cadell, Country Manager France. “They create their own catalogue on the website, so they can accept or refuse orders. They remain free to choose their own distribution strategy. Then, they ship the products, we pay them, and the store can pay us within 60 days. We definitely define ourselves as a marketplace which helps independent brands to boost their business and retailers to source their products from these brands,” she adds.
Beauty, a flagship category
A third of the 5,000 beauty brands selected are French. It is one of the three most dynamic categories in France for the platform, with a 65% growth of the number of brands since January.
“Brands are selected according to simple criteria. We only work with brands which have stock, since we promise stores to be delivered within 10 to 15 days. Then, of course, come quality and margins: we cannot work with brands with low margins, it is not interesting for retailers. Generally speaking, we accept 50% of the brands that apply,” explains Lily Cadell.
Endro, Jolis Baumes, Comme Avant, Respire, Les Petits Prodiges, Lamazuna… Clean Beauty brands enjoy a privileged position, but the offering still boasts eclectic profiles to stick to an exhaustive approach.
Fundraising and tools on a daily basis
The platform’s business model is based on a commission taken from the turnover achieved by brands: 20% for the first order placed by a store, 10% on restockings. However, there is no commission if the store is a historic client of the brand, i.e. if they worked together before Ankorstore.
With a 1.75-billion-euro value, Ankorstore is part of the closed club of French unicorns. Early this year, the company raised 250 million euros to keep growing and assert its position as the first European marketplace to facilitate exchanges between independent retailers and brands.
“We are more than a marketplace, because we aim to create a product that is truly integrated and easy-to-use on a daily basis for both stores and brands,” says Lily Cadell.
To highlight this objective, the company created a new integrated entity, Ankorstart. Thanks to its network of experts, it helps guide retailers starting their businesses from the beginning up to three months after they have opened their shops.
“Before, during, and after, we support them with brand selection, financing issues and cash flow flexibility, stock evaluation according to their own store, administration and legal procedures, etc.,” explains Lily Cadell.
To further strengthen its position as a partner, the company will launch a new fulfilment offer in late 2022: brands no longer willing to take care of the deliveries will be able to store some of their goods in an Ankorstore warehouse and outsource logistics and deliveries to the platform.
A development strategy based on the European potential
Right now, Ankorstore counts eight offices in Europe, in Paris, Lille, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Milan, representing 600 employees.
“We evaluate the potential of independent stores in Europe at 1.5 million. Right now, we have 250,000: there is still a long way to go, so we are focusing on this. We also aim to enrich our catalogue of brands, in particular in the beauty category,” Lily Cadell concludes.