SHANGHAI — Chinese luxury flash sales platform, Mei.com, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a party on Shanghai’s riverfront Bund
Attended by 800 guests, including former Bond girl Sophie Marceau, the Website, which was previously known in English as Glamour Sales, was celebrating a milestone few luxury e-commerce outlets in China can boast.
Co-founder and chief executive officer Thibault Villet said the key to their success, in large part, was flexibility and an ability to adapt to a rapidly changing market.
“We started with flash sales, we moved to combining flash sales with permanent outlets, as well as selectively offering limited edition products,” he said.
“We want to become the number one Chinese online luxury platform. So as consumers’ needs continue to evolve, we will also continue to evolve. We have plans to move more fully into in-season products as we see consumers’ needs and tastes are evolving in that direction.”
Five years ago, China was home to a large number of flash sales start-ups. Though few have gone the distance, Mei.com has managed to register triple digit growth every year and is on target to register one billion yuan, about $150 million at current exchange, in sales this year.
Over the past five years, according to Villet, the average basket value per customer has doubled, and there has also been strong growth in tier two and three cities, which now account for 50 percent of Mei.com’s business, as the purchasing power in China’s interior outpaces the retail infrastructure available.
“Brands that are successful in tier two and tier three cities are more classic, brands that are more successful in tier one cities are newer or more sophisticated brands. We are able to continue to balance the needs both customers have with our large offer,” Villet said.
That offer includes partnerships with more than 2,000 brands, and a recent agreement with Galeries Lafayette to exclusively sell 135 designer brands in the Chinese market.
Despite a downturn in luxury spending on the Mainland, and increased competition from international competitors in the luxury e-commerce space here, Villet believes recent moves from brands, most notably Chanel, to readjust pricing so it is more equal worldwide, is a major plus for Mei.com.
“The recent move from some brands to realign prices between overseas and China, this is a real opportunity, this will reduce the gap and therefore, for us, we will have less challenges for us from overseas Web sites and daigou,” he said.
According to Villet, Mei.com’s local knowledge also gives them an advantage over international competitors, who might not be as quick on the uptake when the inevitable ‘next big thing’ hits China’s tech sphere.
“The increasing social commerce is something pretty strong and unique in China, we have been growing our social commerce offerings through social platforms, including WeChat, this is something very Chinese and very local and by being here on the ground,” he said.
“We have been able to partner with 600 local bloggers and understand this social aspect very well, giving us a very strong advantage compared to some competitor websites who don’t understand the local market as well.”