News has hit this week that Indonesia has become the new battleground for beauty box companies — a type of subscription service where customers receive a box of cosmetics samples on a monthly basis.
Singapore’s VanityTrove is believed to be the first to enter the country, followed closely behind by Lolabox, started by two former Rocket Internet employees, and BeautyTreats. Both competitors launched officially yesterday to much fanfare from the tech press.
While their entry into Indonesia is good news for consumers who have been clamoring for such services in the country, there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical about their success.
It all starts with the fact that Rocket Internet’s very own GlossyBox has avoided Indonesia and its surrounding countries like a plague. Read more
MediaCorp, a government-linked media company in Singapore, has a poor record in e-commerce businesses. Its attempt at daily deals crashed and burned, while its online bookstore venture ilovebooks.com received no love from consumers.
Now comes news that the company, which is monopolizing free-to-air television in the country, has launched its own subscription commerce concept, called The Little Black Beauty Box (a mouthful, I know). Consumers were able to subscribe to it on styleXstyle.com, a MediaCorp-owned fashion e-commerce site, since March.
While the third time may be a charm, there are several factors that may prevent the venture from taking off. Read more
Subscriptions are fast becoming a predominant way people transact online. Just look at the number of beauty box companies emerging in Asia and the amount of software-as-a-service products around. Even Microsoft, a dinosaur of the software era, has begun charging customers by the month to use its office productivity suite.
Taking advantage of the new status quo is ChargeBee, an India-based startup that aims to make implementing subscription billing easy for businesses. With ChargeBee, users can set price plans, create promotional coupons, and generate email notifications. They can then integrate ChargeBee with a selection of over 30 payment gateways. Read more
Following an announcement of its expansion into Taiwan, Singapore’s VanityTrove has today revealed that it has acquired Glossybox Taiwan for an undisclosed sum. For Glossybox, a Rocket Internet company, this move completes its exit from several countries in the region in order to focus its efforts on larger markets in Europe and North Asia.
Both Glossybox and VanityTrove are subscription commerce companies modeled after Birchbox. Every month, they deliver ‘beauty boxes’ containing cosmetic samples to subscribers, while at the same time acting as a marketing platform for cosmetic brands. Read more
Australia’s Bellabox announced today that it has raised a USD 1.4M (AUD 1.3M) series A round, led by Lance Kalish, co-founder of skincare brand Yes To Carrots and Elevation Capital director Trevor Folsom.
Monash Private Capital, SquarePeg Ventures, Apex Capital Partners and other investors participated in this round. Monash Private Capital also assisted with transaction structuring and negotiations. Read more
Glossybox, a beauty box clone by Rocket Internet, is by many metrics a wild success. The subscription commerce company recently revealed that it had shipped 2 million boxes to customers in its first 1.5 years of operations. To date, it has raised USD 72.3M from Holtzbrinck Ventures, Kinnevik and Rocket Internet itself.
Two million boxes is a whole lot of revenue. Here’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation: Assuming every subscriber has signed up for Glossybox’s recurring 3-month package for one year — the company would easily pocket an annual revenue of about USD 26M.
||What is subscription commerce?
||A new e-commerce model where consumers typically pay subscription fees to have products sent to their doorsteps on a regular basis.
There are a couple of catches though. First, we don’t know what Glossybox’s global operating costs and profits are. It could be that the venture is in the red since it would have pumped tons of money into global expansion just to get to its market-leading position.
Second, Glossybox has had some missteps. Namely, it entered Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia, only to withdraw after realizing the markets aren’t as plump as it thought they would be. Apparently, the Samwer Brothers are capable of misjudgments. Read more
Glossybox is possibly the largest beauty box company in the world. Photo: Glossybox
As the daily deals fever dies down, entrepreneurs in Asia have been on the lookout on the next big idea. It looks like they have found it. In the region, a new crop of startups have arisen, all centered around a singular concept: Beauty boxes.
The idea sounds simple. Subscribers, who are mostly young women, pay a monthly fee to have a box of cosmetics samples delivered to them on a regular basis. Beauty brands have been freely giving out sample products, so why not mail them to potential customers instead?
The market opportunity is there: Outside of China and India, the Asia-Pacific cosmetics market is valued at USD45.7B. The business model is proven: In the United States, Birchbox, which launched in 2010, has surpassed the 100,000 subscriber mark for its women’s boxes. It may have even reached 200,000. The company is popular with investors too: It raised a series A round of USD10.5M.
The concept soon spread to Europe and finally to Asia. Rocket Internet launched its clone Glossybox in March 2011 and now has a presence in 19 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. Other prominent players are coming up in the region too, and they’re getting a lot of customers. Read more