While e-commerce has made it easier to shop from brands and countries across the world, the online world is severely lacking when it comes to independent offerings.
This was the problem Trouva, a retail tech start-up founded in 2013, aims to solve with its online marketplace.
Using Trouva’s marketplace, independent stores can get online and access customers across the world much more easily. Trouva’s technology provides inventory management, shipping logistics and operations, as well as customer support, to make the process of shopping independently online a whole lot better.
After raising $10 million in a Series A funding round from the likes of BGF Ventures and Index Ventures, Trouva is now taking its successful marketplace global by expanding to include 20 independent Berlin-based boutiques.
“What we’re doing is unlocking the potential that was previously confined to the physical space,” explains co-founder and CTO Alex Loizou. “The owners of these shops have great taste and beautiful spaces; we’re giving consumers the choice of finding products they would not necessarily have access to.”
It’s not easy for these small stores to access online customers. Say, an owner receives an online order. They would then have to shut down the store, take the parcel to the post office and ship it from there. Instead, Trouva has dispatch couriers that pick up items and ship it off to the customer.
This is better for shoppers too. Using Trouva you can buy a backpack from a store in Manchester, a vase from Brighton and now clothes from Berlin. Purchases can be shipped to the UK, as well as globally with around 15 per cent of Trouva’s sales coming from the US, Australia and other European countries.
“All of sudden you have a shop in Shoreditch which is selling products to New Zealand and Australia,” Loizou tells the Standard. “This shows the power that comes from being of Trouva.”
Berlin was an easy choice for Trouva’s first international expansion, as the city is what Loizou calls a “creative capital”. The 20 new stores added to the platform, including The Amazing Crocodile Design Store, were handpicked by Trouva’s team, alongside recommendations from some of the platform’s UK outlets.
“There is an incredible wealth of new inventory and new styles that are currently locked down in Berlin,” he says.
Alongside choosing the new stores, Trouva had to internationalise its platform, ensuring all the functionalities provided to the UK shops would be available to its European counterpart.
And the website now offers new ways to shop online, such as a local area discovery tool so you can discover shops in a specific are. This is available now with the German capital city but will be opened up to the rest of the network in the future.
To enable this growth, the start-up has expanded its team to 48 people across three cities: London, Lisbon and now Berlin. And it has no signs of slowing down; Loizou says the platform will be adding more destinations rapidly.
Where will Trouva be going to next? “We’re looking at the usual suspects: Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam.
“We also love the Nordic countries. Stockholm and Copenhagen are beautiful cities that have a very special position in the design world.”
It’s not just Europe that Trouva has plans to cover, but the whole world.
“Our vision is to create this place where people can shop and buy from London, Berlin, New York and Tokyo in the same place, with the same convenience as you can from Amazon or anywhere else online,” Loizou adds.