August 28, 2017; WWD
Feelunique.com's recent record-breaking quarter was due to several factors, the company noted, which included a broad product offering as well as shoppers who were responding positively to dedicated web sites in the U.K., France and Germany.Joël Palix, chief executive officer of the company told investors last week when the company released its results that looking ahead, "we will seek to further consolidate our leading position in Europe’s key beauty markets as well as to grow our market share in Asia where we are working to enhance our operations to take advantage of the significant market opportunity.”
In Asia, the bulk of the growth came from China. Palix said that "launching a Chinese-language web site in 2015 is also proving to be a strategic success. In a little under two years the region has grown to account for 10 percent of group sales and is providing an excellent platform to satisfy Chinese demand for luxury and niche beauty brands."To penetrate the Chinese market, Palix teamed up with cross-border and e-commerce specialists Azoya International, which set up the site to create "a localized shopping experience," said Don Zhao, cofounder and executive director of the Shenzhen-based company.
Franklin Chu, managing director of the U.S. for the company, said the Chinese Feelunique site is "fully managed by Azoya's local team," which created it using its own e-commerce platform and "optimized it for various shopping scenarios."Zhao described it as a "localized site that creates a frictionless experience for Chinese shoppers."
Palix, who formerly worked at the Clarins Group, joined Feelunique four years ago with the intent of growing the site. "I'd been building brands internationally for more than 30 years," Palix told WWD. "So the initial plans for Feelunique was to grow it as a market leader, and our focus was Europe. It required capitalizing on our strengths and market share in the U.K., and then expanding into other European markets, which we have done and includes France and Germany."Palix said the company launched localized site in Nordic countries, and the site has been "building our European business quite nicely. But I always knew that Asia was the next big [one] from here for Feelunique, because I know the importance of Asia in general for any unique business, any unique brand. When I joined Feelunique, I came to realize quickly that the region of the world where e-commerce penetration was the biggest was not the U.S., not the U.K., not Europe, but it was China."
Feelunique has a U.S. web site, and Palix said further expansion is planned. But the priority is on China, which the ceo acknowledged to be "a challenging market." He described company shareholders as "hesitant" to enter China, but then met with Zhao and said "everything clicked.""I felt Don [Zhao] was a good businessman [who] would be able to understand our culture, but also had a deep understanding of the Chinese market," Palix said. "His company was the right solution for us because the risk would be limited, but the opportunity would be high."
Palix said Azoya manages the site's translation and the merchandising. "They also do technology developments that are needed for managing the specific needs of the Chinese market, and they look after marketing," he explained. "They also manage the call center, and customer service. Feelunique remains completely in charge of sourcing and shipping the products. They're obviously in charge of the branding of the site, and creating a brand identity in China. So it's a good split of roles, and it has been very successful. We've started a business in China in October 2015, and in less than 24 months, China has become our second-largest market."