Luxury E-Commerce Platform The List Raises US$1.7 Million In Seed Round THE LIST brings curated luxury products from global boutiques to the Middle East- thus enabling customers to shop straight from the streets of Paris, London, Milan, New York, Moscow or Tokyo.

By Sindhu Hariharan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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THE LIST, a Dubai-based luxury e-commerce platform, has raised US$1.7 million investment in a seed round from local and European VC firms and investors to get ready for its next phase of growth. While the names of investors remain undisclosed by the company due to confidentiality reasons, THE LIST founder and CEO Andreas Skorski says the funding will be used "to further strengthen our technology development and build an entire m-commerce ecosystem." Skorski adds that, "specifically, we will invest in developing our mobile solutions, and use AI-based personalization and machine-learning elements in order to further optimize our customer experience and increase the efficiency and effectivity of our initiatives," Additionally, the e-commerce startup is also in the process of opening their technology hub in Lisbon- an objective they aim to achieve in the second quarter.

According to a statement by the company, THE LIST brings curated luxury products from global boutiques to the Middle East- thus enabling customers to shop straight from the streets of Paris, London, Milan, New York, Moscow or Tokyo. In this way, the platform enables physical stores to transform into e-commerce companies and reach customers worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, which finds a place among the fastest growing markets for luxury goods. Starting off with a marketplace model, THE LIST (founded in March 2016 by Skorski) initially was a digital platform connecting retailers and customers, but then pivoted to handle the entire payment and logistics as Skorski noticed that certain brands and products were either not available in the Middle East or only at marked up prices, and also that global luxury retailers were slow in jumping on to the e-commerce bandwagon.

Andreas Skorski, founder and CEO, THE LIST. Image credit: THE LIST.

Speaking about the fundraising process, Skorski says raising money took around eight months. "I connected with investors through persistent search, my network, and referrals. The main criteria for investors were the scalable, unique business model, the market potential in the region, the technology products in development, and the experience of the team," he says. With regards to how conducive the regional ecosystem is for new-age businesses like THE LIST to raise finances, Skorski says that despite the region's potential, for early-stage ventures, "it is still sometimes difficult to raise funding in the region due to risk aversion and a lack of decisiveness," and it's a matter of creating the right environment.

THE LIST boasts of a unique product mix of top luxury brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Rolex, Cartier, and rare vintage pieces from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès, among others. As for the competitive edge that its omni-channel business model presents, Skorski says, "there is no regional competitor for our business model. Through our lean omni-channel model we can onboard new, international brick-and-mortar retailers, launch their merchandise much faster than traditional online retail, and also scale into new markets faster. Since we do not buy inventory, we are also able to offer a greater variety of products compared to regular e-commerce businesses." Owing to their international sourcing methodology, THE LIST says it also offers products at competitive prices of upto "20-30% less than Middle Eastern retail."

Related: The New Normal: For Luxury Brands, A Digital Uplift Is Long Overdue

Sindhu Hariharan

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Sindhu Hariharan is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.  She is a financial consultant turned business journalist with a FOMO when it comes to everything technology.

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