Being at Meet Magento Indonesia recently, I had the pleasure to hear the presentation of Bianca Lee, C-Level Executive from Love, Bonito. The project started as a small “blog shop” in 2010 and has grown into one of the leading fashion labels.
Blog shop phenomena
Now you’re probably thinking: what is a blog shop?
A blog shop is sort of an online store, but it uses a blog platform as its central point. Usually, they sell women’s clothing and accessories at affordable prices (up to 30 USD).
This is quite an interesting idea that is gaining popularity across Asia. On the list of the top 10 most popular eCommerce shops in Singapore, 4 of them are blog shops.
Things that blog shops have in common:
- they are founded by young women who are fashion lovers;
- launches are only at a specific time during the week – eg. on Thursday night
- a few days after a successful launch there is a backorder opportunity for customers who missed the selling. Usually, the client must pay in advance and wait 2-6 weeks for delivery
- at the beginning, there wasn’t any eCommerce engine in place, clients were served directly via email.
But let’s get back to the Love, Bonito case.
Love, Bonito way to success
In the last 8 years, Love, Bonito has grown exponentially and the brand has become the largest fashion brand on the local market.
As they grew, they started their own studio to design clothes. They have also started their first physical stores. With a flagship store in Singapore and many more across Asia (they are also present in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cambodia), Love, Bonito’s unique clothes have reached women all across the world.
Physical retail is a big part of the Love, Bonito strategy. They just have raised US$13 million in a series B round.
Love, Bonito Flagship Store in Singapore (source)
The company underlines their prosperity has been possible as a result of four main differentiators:
For Women, by Women
Love, Bonito builds an engaged community of women and empowers their confidence through workshops, events and content pillars.
Female centric design approach
They design comfortable and useful clothes for woman such as dresses with pockets. Their approach is to meet the needs of local customers. All designs are made with Asian women’s bodies in mind.
Vertically integrated speed
From design and manufacturing, to distribution, they control the supply chain and time of production. New campaigns are launched twice a week, and in just a month, Love, Bonito delivers 60-80 new designs to their customers.
Digitally native, Omni in approach
The digital-born brand has found a way to leverage the retail world to provide a holistic experience – they use all available channels, such as chat-commerce via WhatsApp, to reach customers.
What else do they do? They believe in the local approach, and so they have a local team for every market. These are people who know best the needs of their customers. What’s more, Love, Bonito leverage data on every level. Every team member is trained to use a data-driven approach.
Boosting the omnichannel approach
Physicals stores are Love, Bonito strategic points to support omnichannel sales. The company uses them very intelligently. Three types of physical stores (flagship, pop-up and counters) are the meeting spots for potential clients.
“We are a vertically-integrated, omnichannel haven for our community of women, who are obsessed with us not just for our products, but deeper connections that we foster through our unique female-centric approach, customer experience and community outreach” – Bianca Lee – Love, Bonito
Stores are the place to organize styling sessions, talk-shows and other events, building the community around the brand. It is also a way to find new clients, less exposed to online shopping. For existing customers, stores improve the user experience with omni-enablers such as “pick up” and “return” in store, on-floor style ambassadors and try-ons.
In the end, the shops support Love, Bonito in the creation of a Customer Experience playfield – they have introduced many omnichannel ideas and test how customers react.
I must admit that what is quite interesting is their numbers.
The average customer makes over four purchases a year. At the same time, the marketing budget is only about 10% of revenue. The average price of the product is US$ 30 and the typical cart is between US$ 42 to US$ 53.
They also cooperate with marketplaces like Zalora, FashionValet, and JD. The revenue is growing 80%+ y/y.
Cooperating with the biggest competitor
As in many other countries, fashion is the fastest-growing eCommerce category in Southeast Asia. Love, Bonito is a very interesting case study, but they have a serious threat on the horizon – Zalora.
Zalora is the biggest player in the Asian market. This is a fashion marketplace, built by Rocket Internet, which already operates in Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, and New Zealand. With a focus on mobile commerce and omnichannel tactics like using pop-up stores, they’re preparing for a “mobile-only” market.
The company resells well-known brands like Aldo, Mango, Adidas, Levis, and Ray-Ban to many southeast Asians that do online shopping via smartphones instead of laptops. But Zalora also created their first private labels. The sum of their 4 investment rounds is about US$ 240M.
Zalora is a regional behemoth, but there is still plenty of space for small and dynamic fashion-brands like Love, Bonito. Instead of competing with Zalora, smaller players use this marketplace as one of their selling channels.
With the innovative approach of companies like Love, Bonito, they can surely win over the market.