With so many online shopping destinations on the Internet, how do you cut through the clutter and differentiate yourself and carve out a niche while providing a unique and somewhat exclusive buying experience? Well, the team at Touch of Modern seem to have figured it out. Having just surpassed $100M in annual recurring revenue and having recently logged their millionth, yes, that’s 1 million, order, Touch of Modern seems to be well on their way to success.
Last night, my wife and I attended a celebration party for these two important milestones. Held at the infamous Phoenix Hotel, known more in my younger years as Miss Pearls Jam House (ok, I’m dating myself a bit but did attend a few events there), it was the perfect venue to showcase some of their more popular products, all of which can be bought from their online store. But as I found, some of the exclusive products really move quickly and can sell out.
Case in point, I was being shown a variety of fancy, shiny and unique men’s watches, pristinely displayed in a case that I was told, held over $500,000 worth of watches.
As I tried on one that was particularly large and unique looking, a $22,000 Romain Jerome Titanic DNA watch which was on sale for a mere $6,500, I was told that it had just been sold and was the last one in stock. An interesting fact was told to me as I tried it on, the outer metallic rim was made from actual metal from the Titanic. It had a beautiful movement that was showcased through a glass backing. Truly spectacular.
This is a prime example of what Touch of Modern does. They find unique products, many of them from companies who had launched from Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns, and sell them on their carefully curated eCommerce site. Often, according to CEO Jerry Hum who my wife and I spoke with at the event, the only places to buy these products are either on the maker’s site or on Touch of Modern. Touch of Modern acts as a distribution channel, creating exclusive, limited-time deals for these products.
The Touch of Modern executive team who founded the company in 2012, Dennis Liu, Jerry Hum, Steven Ou and Jonathan Wu, are East Coast transplants, having moved to San Francisco to pursue the dream of running their own business. The site, as I found, is carefully thought out and curated. And you just can’t browse around unless you give them your email address. In my mind, this gives a bit of an “exclusive club” feel. You need to knock on the door to gain entry.
Once in the site, you are free to browse through the seemingly endless catalog of tech, home accessories, fashion, novelty, tech and travel-related products, all pretty much geared towards men. But as my wife pointed out, there are plenty of women who are shopping for the man in their lives as well.
In fact, the Touch of Modern design team helps you figure out the type of person you are, or you are shopping for, by presenting a few buying personas right up front:
- The Adventurer
- The Dapper Man
- The Executive
- The Gadgeteer
- The Gourmet
- The Interior Enthusiast
- The Luxe Life
- The Watch Aficionado
- ToMo Favorites
- Where Adults Play
Within each of these personas, there are sub-categories of product types that allow you to fine tune what you are shopping for. One thing (purposefully?) lacking is a “Search” feature. It seems to me that they want to have you browse through the products. I’m betting that their Time-on-Site metric is extremely high because of this.
Discounts on the exclusive content are steep actually, with product ranging from a few dollars to several 10’s of thousands (as evident in the Watch collection – top priced watch as I wrote this was about $5000, discounted from $14,000). But you have to remember, the inventory changes quick quickly, day-to-day. I was told the company employs a just-in-time inventory model to keep things moving quickly, a fact confirmed on their site in their FAQ section: “Our business model allows us to place one large bulk order directly from our featured designers. Because we don’t keep inventory we can pass the warehouse cost savings on to you. Both our customers and our suppliers mean a lot to us. Because we can promise that our designer’s products will be seen by such a large number of design conscious customers we’re able to negotiate the best prices on the web.”
As I mentioned, items appear and disappear quickly within the store. At the event, the Touch of Modern proudly displayed the Devailet Phantom speaker which retails for about $2000. Touch of Modern is one of the few places where you will be able to purchase one (but as of this writing, it had not appeared on their site). We actually took the Phantom out into the Phoenix Hotel’s pool patio area and fired it up. It was pretty amazing.
Another product (which I haven’t found in the store) were some glowing orbs that were floating in the hotel’s pool.
I was told that all of the products are photographed in-house. The company currently has about 150 employees.
All being said and showcased, I have found myself drawn to the site (as well as the mobile app). Curation is the key word here. The products seem carefully selected to appeal to men (who, if they are anything like me, simply hate shopping for thing). There are quite a few things that I wouldn’t mind getting.
So, if you are looking in frustration for a unique gift for the man in your life (or for yourself), head on over to Touch of Modern. I’m pretty sure you will find some truly compelling products.
HTD says: With exclusive “member-only” pricing, Touch of Modern directly connects buyers with designers of some extremely cool items.