BeautyFresh says cheaper prices + better tech = happier customers
By Benjamin Cher June 23, 2016
- Has adopted secure data practices and IT security habits for customers
- Stocking inventory with Google Analytics to capture what customers really want
GLOBALISATION has opened up consumers’ wallets to the vast variety of products available outside their domestic markets. And now, with e-commerce, you don’t have to wait for some distributor to bring those products in, not when you can just buy them online.
In a way, most e-commerce platforms operate in the grey area of parallel imports: Consumers are likely to be none the wiser where their products come from, nor would many of them care.
This is where e-commerce startup BeautyFresh Pte Ltd steps in, sourcing beauty products globally to get the best prices, according to its director Jack Wong.
“The difference between us and a lot of stores is that because of our contacts around the world, we can source globally,” he said.
BeautyFresh is currently only focused on “established luxury brands rather than the smaller brands,” he added.
The results speak for themselves, with Wong claiming that revenue is growing 300% month-on-month, despite less than US$500,000 having been sunk into the startup.
“It’s pretty good, we have expansion plans,” said Wong, adding that the startup launched in China in May and is aiming to launch in the Philippines and Thailand in July.
The tech sauce
While BeautyFresh may seem just like any other e-commerce or online store, it’s what’s under the hood that really sets it apart, according to Wong (pic above).
One aspect of this is security. “With my background in IT security compliance, we employ stuff like SSL (Secure Socket Layer), securing our database with 256-bit encryption,” he said.
“From a systems architecture perspective, the user database is not stored in Clear Text – the data from users and their purchases, access and credentials are all plugged in separate instances, so if there’s a compromise it will not go through the entire system,” he added.
This means should an attacker gain entry at the point-of-sale, inventory or web server, they would not have free reign throughout the system.
“If you go through our website, we are incredibly lightweight – we employ HTML5, H.264 and H.265 (high efficiency video coding),” said Wong.
“We haven’t got certification yet, but we don’t need to – our website conforms to PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance,” he claimed.
BeautyFresh also plans to collect more data to better understand its customers.
“The only reason why we haven’t implemented it yet is because we are not satisfied with our current setup and want to enhance it,” said Wong.
While BeautyFresh’s sales proposition is its cost savings, how the startup finds out what products to stock is also tied back to its tech.
“How we buy products is by spreadsheets – what is the market demand from the SEO (search engine optimisation) perspective, what people are searching, so we know what to procure,” said Wong.
The search for what products to offer begins in quite a low-tech way: By observing brands in major department stores, duty-free shops, as well as via word-of-mouth.
“We will look for new stuff that has come in and jot down the names,” said Wong.
“From there, we will search for their names and products, and determine if there is value in bringing them into Singapore.
“Our inventory system gives us alerts, and we have fused in Google Analytics to our website so we know what webpages people are looking at on our site, what the average session time is, how long they take to pay, what payment method they like – and we do lots of surveys with our users,” he added.
This strategy has paid off, with products being sold out. Wong said he aims to widen the selection for consumers.
BeautyFresh does intend to ultimately expand, but the immediate focus is to stabilise the business, and the startup is currently not looking for any funding, according to Wong.
“If you talk about fundraising, it will be at least another 12 months or so, because our current balance sheet is pretty okay – in fact, we will be reaching sustainability soon if the business continues to grow at this rate,” he claimed.
“That’s why we want to open overseas markets.
“One of the key things we are exploring is building everything on one platform, and sharing one inventory system with consignment warehouses across South-East Asia,” he added.
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