Ecommerce sensation StockX is expanding internationally this year and likely to open an authentication centre for watches in London.
The company was created almost four years ago with a mission to become ‘the stock market of things’ where people could trade almost anything if a price at which the buyer and seller are both happy. Products with less demand will command lower prices over time, while items like this year’s hottest Rolexes sell at well above their retail value brand new in stores.
StockX started out trading collectible sneakers, but added watches and handbags last year. The business hired David Lee to head the watches vertical. He brings almost a decade of experience from the luxury watch retail market, including six years at Tourneau where he ended up heading the group’s pre-owned watch department. He later joined Eleven James, another ecommerce business trading in luxury watches that has now closed.
Mr Lee admits that the sneaker business dwarfs all other vertical sectors at StockX, but is growing fast. Over the pre-Christmas period, it was selling 30-50 watches per day, he told WatchPro today; a drop in the ocean compared to the sneaker business that makes up the ‘lions’ share’ of the company’s $800 million in sales.
StockX checks and authenticates every watch sold on its platform. Once a sale is agreed, the watch has to be sent to a StockX authentication centre within two days, and is forwarded to the customer once it has been checked by experts.
Opening an authentication centre in London will make it practical to offer this rapid turnaround in the UK. Mr Lee would not guarantee that the investment would be made in London, but StockX already authenticates sneakers in the capital so expanding that facility is most likely. “It is not set in stone yet, but operationally it makes sense,” he suggests.
Authentication of each watch is a key differentiator in comparison to platforms like Chrono24, which never touches the watches traded through its site. It relies instead on sellers developing trust over time, much as sellers are given a star-rating on sites like Ebay and Amazon Marketplace.
Other businesses including Watchbox and Bob’s Watches in the United States, and Watchfinder in the UK, buy every watch that ends up on their ecommerce sites, having first checked and refurbished them. This allows these players to offer warranties, which is not an option from StockX at present.