[Interview] Pierre Louis Lacoste, Co-Founder of Ankorstore: The marketplace that connects brands and stores

"Entrepreneurship is all about taking a risk. It's like a washing machine that washes you for several years. But if you have the desire, the passion, it remains extraordinary. You have to have the idea and develop it with the right people. It's essential to surround yourself with the right people. In my opinion, you can't be alone in your entrepreneurial project. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to try something different. It won't change the world much if I fail; on the contrary, I'll have learned a lot. The hardest part was having the idea, and I had it, so I said to myself it's now or never!"


For Pierre Louis Lacoste, Ankorstore is the result of significant professional experience. His first experience was as vice-president of Lolë, a women's sportswear retail brand with a strong DNA. During these 7 years, he discovered the problems of mass retailing. He then decided to continue his adventure as Country Manager France at Etsya world-leading platform dedicated to handmade creations, which brings together some 60,000 designers in France, and millions more worldwide. He then found himself in charge of a project he was passionate about, Etsy Wholesale.

"Etsy was an incredible experience because it's a war machine. I worked on a project, Etsy Wholesale, which was based on a statement: all designers should be able to distribute themselves easily in boutiques. Maybe they don't have the clout, the financial strength or the knowledge to do it. So we're going to help them."


With demand for wholesale purchases not as high as expected, the Etsy Wholesale project came to an end. However, Pierre Louis is convinced that the model is promising. He talked to Nicolas d'Audiffret and Nicolas Cohen, Etsy's Continental Europe Directors at the time, who had hired him a few years earlier, about launching his project.

"The two Nicolas are former founders of A Little Market, bought by Etsy. We worked together on the Wholesale project. I'd often tell them there's something pretty important to do there. I went to see them and explained that I was going to try my luck. As we talked, we quickly realized that we wanted to launch this project together. As the project was a marketplace, we knew we needed a CTO right from the start. Mathieu was an obvious choice: in addition to his tech background, Mathieu is very business-oriented and understands all the issues involved."


Thanks to their different but complementary backgrounds, Pierre Louis and his three associates founded Ankorstore, the first marketplace to connect brands and designers with boutiques all over Europe. The startup's aim: to reinvent commerce by simplifying brand distribution, inspiring retailers with a cutting-edge selection, and facilitating exchanges, which are often problematic in mass retail. Their aim is to take the pressure off stores and brands by addressing their pain points. One of the main ones: minimum purchase and delivery costs. Ankorstore has decided to break the rules and offer very low minimum purchase amounts (100 euros minimum order per brand, 300 euros in multi-brand), and to reimburse shipping costs to brands, thanks to the commission taken from designers.

"In the old days, you bought a lot of products. If they sold well, you'd restock them. If sales didn't take off, on the other hand, you'd find yourself with a huge stock on your hands, which you'd have to try to clear during the sales. Thanks to our model, you can try out a whole host of brands without having to make huge purchases and place very high orders. As shipping costs are reimbursed by Ankorstore, this reduces costs considerably. We've completely reversed the process."


Ankorstore is considered a free platform, with no registration fees. A commission is paid by the partner brand, including a cash-on-delivery guarantee, payment facilities (60 days) for the retailer and reimbursement of shipping costs by Ankorstore. In this way, everyone wins:healthy cash flow for brands and stores alike.

"In the 20% commission we charge the brands (10% for restocking), all shipping costs are paid by Ankorstore to the brands. We also advance cash. The brand is paid on delivery, while the boutique has 60 days to pay us."


Ankorstore's other objective is to create a B2C experience within a B2B model.

"We've set up what we call a multishop check out, which is a single shopping basket. You can put in 20 brands, 40 brands, 100 different brands. You press a single button, as if you were on a B2C experience. Orders are dispatched, you receive them within 10 days in your store, you have nothing else to do. You don't call an agent, you don't call the sales manager, you do everything yourself. So you gain in flexibility."


When asked about his typical day, Pierre Louis replies that his only fixed activity is taking his children to school in the morning. For the rest, his days are never the same. The only thing they all have in common is keeping in touch with his teams and partners.

"In general, Mondays and Tuesdays are often one-to-ones, with team meetings to get the week off to a good start. The common denominator of my days is having brands and boutiques on the phone every day, telling me what's going well and what's not. We're in constant contact with the boutiques and brands, and it's really important to have constant feedback. We try to support everyone in the best possible way. "


With the spread and democratization of telecommuting, the question of work-life balance is at the heart of the debate. For Pierre Louis, you must never forget your personal life.

"My private life is ultra important. I have children and that's never been a hindrance. If I'm at a meeting and my daughter comes and sits on my lap, I don't have a problem with that. I think it's important not to make too much of a break, especially in these complicated times when you're trying to get organized with telecommuting. I always put my family first. However, we are in the office some days a week, because that's important for this type of work. I'm not sure that full-time telecommuting is for everyone; I don't think it's for all job categories. I like chatting, exchanging ideas live and doing an elbow check to celebrate successes."


Ankorstore is a European marketplace. The problems of distribution, cash flow and purchasing are the same in other countries, such as Germany, Spain and the Benelux countries... Pierre Louis and his team have been able to understand and reinvent the rules to satisfy both suppliers and retailers on a large scale.

"We're completely reinventing the codes, taking all the big friction out of distribution. Today, we have just over 1,500 brands on the platform and 14,000 active boutiques on the platform."

Discover the brands carefully selected by Ankorstore to reduce your stocks and keep your cash flow healthy.

These articles may be of interest to you