Why European Retailer Showroomprive Decided to Embrace Bitcoin

CoinDesk speaks with Showroomprive, one of Europe's top flash sale web retailers and the largest to accept bitcoin.

AccessTimeIconOct 12, 2014 at 12:50 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 3:14 p.m. UTC
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Showroomprive is a Paris-based online shopping website for clothes, cosmetics and household items that offers discounts of 30–70% off of leading brand-name products.

The firm's more than $500m in annual revenue make it one of the leading e-commerce companies in Europe, with figures from 2013 placing it just behind LVMH Moët Hennessy, and the second largest private sales website behind Vente-privee.

These figures could increase, the company hopes, now that it has integrated bitcoin into its payment options.

In an interview with CoinDesk, cofounder and chief executive Thierry Petit said:

“I plan that probably between 5 and 10% of my payments in the next three or four years in Europe will be through the bitcoin system. If there is some additional technology and if some of the big players accept bitcoin then it will accelerate and change the game.”

Showroomprive has an active mobile app platform through which it currently generates more than 50% of its fashion-driven sales. However, at present, it does not accept bitcoin on its apps.

Looking to US leaders

Petit’s business targets consumers that are looking to buy leading brand-name products at the most affordable prices, so being able to offer his customers an additional payment option seemed like “something very disruptive and interesting”.

“For me as founder of the company – I’m an engineer to be honest and I love technology and seeing how it can disrupt our industry,” he said.

Bitcoin first piqued Petit’s curiosity about a year and a half ago, he said, and this year the major US corporations that began integrating it as a customer payments option turned him on a little bit more.

Petit said:

“A few months ago, we noticed that various tests had already been carried out in the United States, for example. More and more well-known e-commerce sites, like Dell or Expedia, have already integrated bitcoin as part of their services. That’s why we were very conscious that it may be a real innovation for our payment strategy. […] That's why I wanted to be very pragmatic, to cut to the solution.”

Showroomprive first implemented bitcoin payments into its operations in the Netherlands because the market was primed for payments innovation.

“As for France,” he added, “we are adopting a practical approach, but we believe that consumer tendencies are evolving. The two are compatible.”

A change of heart

Petit said the learning process has been surprising for him, and that the doom and doubt communicated about bitcoin by so much of the media and financial industries made him wary of the concept – at first.

He said:

“The fact that people are now motivated by bitcoin, they know more or less what it is – this is a really positive point. I was a little bit afraid by bad comments in the ecosystem and it's on the contrary, a lot of people think it’s a great innovation.”

He then turned to the regulatory sphere, where he spoke highly of French senator Philippe Marini and defended his approach to regulating bitcoin activity.

“In France that they want to [regulate] for something positive, and not to kill bitcoin,” he said.

A collaborative economy

Petit spoke to bitcoin’s practical uses and advantages to his business, citing perks like instant transactions and lower transaction fees.

He added that he’s observed a lot of new digital wallet companies and other technology platforms enter into the payments, banking and e-commerce space, and surmised that the growing trend might be the result of an increasingly mobile way of life.

He said:

“One thing that is not disrupted yet is the money. Bitcoin can disrupt the money through several actions – it can give the company immediate transfer, lower commission [...] it’s very interesting in terms of construction and as you can see, a lot of developments, like Airbnb, are coming to this collaborative economy.”

He added: “The payments industry at this time in Europe is like a war [...] maybe bitcoin will have something to play in this industry.”

Image via Shutterstock


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