GOAT CEO Eddy Lu Talks International Expansion and Offering Consumers a Better Shopping Experience

Despite the coronavirus disrupting business, GOAT has found ways to win.

When speaking about the successes of 2020, Eddy Lu, the secondary market platform’s co-founder and CEO, offered insight to FN how last year was “the greatest year in GOAT history.”

For starters, the exec highlighted noteworthy openings of facilities in Atlanta and the Netherlands, the expansion of facilities in New Jersey and Hong Kong, and the debut of its first-ever campaign that launched in August during the NBA Playoffs. From a philanthropic standpoint, GOAT — along with actor Michael B. Jordan and The Shoe Surgeon — teamed up for a limited-time raffle benefitting GirlTrek, a public health nonprofit for African American women and girls.

As for what had the most direct impact on consumers, Lu named its record-setting Black Friday effort, an eight-day event that featured daily drops, the chance to win more than $100,000 in GOAT credits and more. However, the highlight of the initiative was the engaging celeb-hosted trivia, which featured rappers Saweetie and A$AP Nast, NBA standout Kyle Kuzma and several others.

What’s more, GOAT closed a Series E funding round of $100 million in September, receiving an investment from New York-based D1 Capital Partners.

And this year is already off to a solid start. Last month, GOAT Group secured even more financing, welcoming a strategic investment from Groupe Artemis, the controlling shareholder of luxury conglomerate Kering, which owns Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Saint Laurent and more designer labels.

Below, Lu offers insight into how GOAT will top last year’s wins in 2021 and discusses what he learned during a year disrupted by a pandemic.

What are you looking to drive business throughout 2021?

Eddy Lu: “We’re just getting started, we’re excited about all the potential opportunities we have. Our core market right now is the U.S. domestic sneaker market, but we see so much growth in international markets such as the Middle East, for example. Expanding internationally is a big growth driver for us, and we launched apparel [at the end of 2020], which is a huge complement to sneakers. We’ve seen great attachment rates from people who have bought sneakers in the past buying apparel on our site. And we have a lot of exciting partnerships that are coming — even more than in 2020.”

Why do you have such confidence that 2021 will be better than last year, which was the best one yet for the company?

EL: “We exited 2020 with major tailwinds, and with the acceleration of e-commerce, people are finding out that there is a better experience shopping on GOAT because we have over 100,000 styles and SKUs to choose from. At a traditional brick-and-mortar store, there might be 200 SKUs on the wall, and with a lot of those SKUs they might not have your size — and they’re only this year’s SKUs that haven’t sold out. The new customer that’s buying on GOAT, they know this exists now and that it’s a better experience. And we make the experience fun. GOAT is a place where a community can really engage, and increasingly we’re seeing more and more customers joining our platform to ingest the content, to eventually buy and to repeat buy. In 2021, we are very confident these tailwinds will really help us grow.”

GOAT authentication center
An employee inspecting a pair of Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 sneakers in a GOAT authentication center.
CREDIT: Courtesy of GOAT

With several recent successes and some bumps in the road brought on by COVID-19, what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned as of late?

EL: “I have been humbled by the resilience of our teammates, and their dedication to our mission and to each other. Resilience has always been one of our core values, but this year has reinforced the importance of a team that is agile and can adapt to new circumstances. We’ve also seen how important it is to stay true to our value proposition and to have agility every day to ensure that we always deliver a premier end-to-end experience to our community, regardless of the challenges.”

What was the best decision you made as the coronavirus took over stateside?

EL: “Hard-wiring operational rigor into our business has been a key element of our strategy since we founded GOAT. A core part of this has been building global infrastructure since our founding to authenticate and fulfill every order from our members. In the last 6 months of the year, we’ve expanded and opened six global facilities — now totaling 15 around the world — and this growing footprint allows us to continue to provide a premier end-to-end customer experience, serving our customers and our network of over 600,000 sellers as supply and demand across regions fluctuate over time. We also intentionally prioritized investing in our brand, leaning into providing our members with inspiration through creative content and storytelling. We worked remotely with acclaimed director Daniel Sannwald to launch our first-ever brand spot on TV, which brought a futuristic view of GOAT to audiences during the NBA Playoffs. We also partnered with Michael B. Jordan for a community raffle, which raised over $500K for GirlTrek, the U.S.’s largest public health nonprofit for African American women and girls. Lastly, we hosted our biggest Black Friday event to-date, focusing on giving back to our community, and engaging with them through trivia, games and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free prizes. Over two billion tickets were entered during the event, and members won huge prizes including GOAT credit, and even an iconic 1985 Ferrari Testarossa, similar to the one Michael Jordan had.”

GOAT Michael B. Jordan GirlTrek Shoe Surgeon
The Shoe Surgeon custom shoes from the GOAT x Michael B. Jordan raffle for GirlTrek.
CREDIT: Courtesy of GOAT

Looking back at 2020, what impact did people being home have on GOAT’s business?

EL: “2020 was the most successful year in GOAT’s history in terms of GMV growth, sold items, the total number of members of our community and sellers. But was also a year of entirely new challenges for our business — and every business. With a ton of unknowns and no precedent to look to for guidance, we questioned how consumer spending would change, and how those changes would affect our business. While almost all industries, including ours, saw an initial pause in non-essential spending, engagement and volume by our members quickly rebounded in April. People were spending more time at home, were looking for sources of joy and inspiration, and casual fashion became the standard for everyone. Consumers also benefited from liquidity provided by the stimulus package that came around that time, and carried through the summer. During this time, every one of our channels experienced significant increases in engagement: our Instagram feed [grew to] more than 3.5 million followers, our editorial magazine ‘Greatest’ that showcases up-and-coming creatives and designers had never gotten more engagement, and downloads of our app increased. Our community rallied to GOAT, and we responded. It was also the year of Jordan. The debut of ‘The Last Dance’ gave a whole new generation a first-hand look at how iconic Michael Jordan was to the game of basketball and pop culture in general. We immediately saw an increase in Air Jordan sales after the docuseries aired, and ultimately experienced a 79% year-over-year increase in Air Jordan sales on GOAT. And with the surge of COVID across the country, the re-shuttering of physical retail and the recognition among tens of millions of consumers that shopping online and on GOAT is easy, trustworthy and fun, we had a record Black Friday and holiday shopping period.”

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