LONDON: Threads Styling is an e-commerce service without a website and without an app. The fact that is has raised $20 million in funding for its innovative, messenger-based personal stylist service, points to the future of luxury retail online.

The service has customers in 100 countries, according to a report from TechCrunch, enjoys an audience of mostly women, 70% of which are under the age of 35. The average basket size is $3000, and has cultivated fruitful relationships with around 250 happy suppliers including Fendi and Dior, from which it takes a small commission.

Unlike other e-commerce services, Threads uses WeChat, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram and iMessage for the resolutely non-AI, human sales team to interact with customers.

“The idea behind Threads is curation and convenience”, says Founder and CEO, Sophie Hill. “It’s a customer-centric business and it’s built on chat because that is where the customers wanted to be and transact. Chat may not have been used in the way we were using it in 2010 [when Threads was founded] but that was our problem to solve. We had to learn to serve through chat rather than create was for convenient for us as a business.”

The investment will go toward expanding personnel with more stylists and more engineers to make the operation run more smoothly.

At founding, messaging services were popular in the West but were nowhere near what some Asian platforms were building. WeChat was the obvious bellwether for the direction of travel, given that its wealth of services was the result of its audience’s habitual use of the platform for communication. However, unlike the platforms, Threads focused on making the consumer experience as slick as possible by improving the order tracking service for customers, or building better search functions for stylists.

Notably, it acquires customers very differently from other e-commerce businesses. Hill told TechCrunch that the company has no real marketing budget nor a leader of a marketing function. Threads has aimed for word of mouth among users, using its social footprint to amplify its Instagram content and that of its customers.

At its core, it seems, Threads strength is the personal relationship that customers develop, aided by technology. “We are going to be using technology to enhance that personalised experience. Using tech blended with human interaction will be the ultimate service for the luxury industry. We see it as a complement, a way to enhance the personal experience”, Hill said.

Sourced from TechCrunch, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff