Skin care company Trilogy has become one of the latest to set up a cross border ecommerce flagship store on Alibaba’s T-Mall platform.
Trilogy has been steadily growing its sales in Asia, exporting to eight countries in the region. Last year Asia delivered $4 million in sales, almost double from the previous year which raked in $2.8m for Trilogy.
Chief executive Angela Buglass said after finding a distributor in China last September to supply through the e-commerce platform, Trilogy set up its first online flagship store about a month ago.
Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer with 400 million active buyers inside China and a trading platform in over 190 countries, with 46,000 employees.
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Buglass said it was a more formal root to market than the daigou channel, where products are shipped through Chinese personal shoppers recruited by consumers in China to purchase and send goods individually.
She said the T-Mall platform meant the business had control over the content, the price and the products that were sold.
T-Mall is essentially a shop online where businesses pay ‘rent’ to Alibaba for occupying space on its platform and fees to combat counterfeit sales or fake buyers.
Earlier this year Alibaba opened its Australia/NZ head office in Melbourne, and Trilogy’s T-mall manager is based there.
Although Trilogy was ramping up its sales to China its oldest market in the region, Japan, continues to be a strong focus for the business.
The Japanese beauty market was worth NZ$84 billion last year. It is estimated that while Chinese consumers spend about NZ$30 per person per year on cosmetics, Japanese consumers spend about NZ$234.
Trilogy has also created bespoke products for its South Korean and Japanese customers that better suit humid climates, such as lighter formulations of its popular rosehip oil and face sprays.
“You try and keep things as homogenised as possible but the reality is that Japan needs something different to Korea and Vietnam.”
Buglass said although Japan’s own cosmetic and skin care market was booming New Zealand brands had an edge over most other international brands because of the environmentally friendly, pure image.
“Asian consumers are very suspicious of counterfeit or fraudulency around what’s in products. Our reputation puts us a step ahead.”
Buglass said one of the biggest challenges with doing business in Asia was finding the right business partners. She advises working backwards from the end user.
“If you know your target market and who you want to be selling to, then you can then research where that person is shopping and see which distributors those shops are using. Then you can narrow down who the best person to be working with is,” she said.
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