ShopRunner is certainly running when it comes to growth.
Scott Thompson, CEO of the Alibaba-backed eCommerce startup, told Reuters that ShopRunner doubled its membership in 2014 -- which now stands at 2.4 million -- and has designs on doing so again in the present year.
That goal may be aided by the Alibiba connection, which could facilitate expanding the online retailer's presence in China. ShopRunner's partnership with Alipay (and its "ePass" technology) allows for ShopRunner customers in China to easily purchase goods from U.S.-based retailers.
Desiring to position itself as a counterpoint to Amazon, ShopRunner is both similar to the online retail giant -- offering a yearly subscription that provides two-day shipping per order at no additional cost, as well as an express checkout feature -- and different. To the latter point, Thompson told Reuters that whereas Amazon tends to focus almost entirely on offering the lowest prices, ShopRunner seeks to cultivate consumer relationships with particular brands: partners like Cole Haan, Under Armour and Neiman Marcus.
"These businesses spend a lot of money to do the right thing with their brands," Thompson told Reuters. "I want the segment of customer who says I want to pay a fair price, but I want the experience to be predictable."
According to Thompson, ShopRunner's members are increasingly patronizing a larger cross-section of retailers than the one or two that initially bring them to the site -- at a rate of 60 percent in 2014, compared to a little less than 20 percent in the previous year.
Comparing the trend to that of brick-and-mortar shopping, Thompson remarked, "It's that age-old tenant in the mall that draws customers in, and people around it benefit from the traffic."