The recent hype over online group-buying site Groupon has brought an avalanche of similar clones into the fore, but an upcoming online shopping site in Singapore is taking quite a different tack. We look at Brandsfever, a members-only, exclusive online shopping club for special deals from fashion and lifestyle brands.
42 Ventures-backed Brandsfever is an online shopping site that offers international fashion and lifestyle brands at up to 70-percent off retail prices. Like Groupon, it features daily online sales events on products from trendsetting international brands at privileged prices, with each event tailored by Brandsfever editors to offer an exclusive, exciting shopping experience. Sales on Brandsfever are event-based, and last between 36 to 72 hours, or until the products are sold out. Before each sales event, the site notiﬁes its members through email and publishes event details on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
There is a twist, however: these offers are actually limited only to members, although its members can invite friends as members as well. It’s almost like a beta invite. To encourage word-of-mouth, Brandsfever gives a S$10 store credit to existing members for each member they invite, which is accorded after the new memberʼs ﬁrst purchase. “When the sales start, members log on to the website and shop,” says Brandsfever‘s managing partner Sara Ebru Kisioglu. “After the sale event is over, we collect the items directly from the supplier, pick and pack them in our fashion factory and send to our customers.”
Better Deals For Members, Insights For Brands
Brandsfever is inspired by Vente Privee, which first founded the online private shopping club concept in 2001 in France. Popular in Europe and the United States, this concept has not quite penetrated Asia. “We’ve taken the concept and started in Singapore, and we’ll be expanding into other countries throughout the region in the short term,” reveals Kisioglu.
The event-based nature of the concept, similar to that of Groupon and Singapore-based VoucherWOW or Deal.com.sg (where a sales event occurs at a certain frequency), and the sales cycles typical of fashion and lifestyle brands, creates the anticipation and excitement that Brandsfever is aiming for. However, unlike group-buying sites like Groupon, discounts on deals offered on Brandsfever does not depend on a certain number of users to be interested in the offer.
The online private shopping club concept solves a very specific fundamental problem for fashion brands – excess inventory. “By focusing on efficient distribution of last season stock combined with the power of viral online marketing, we’re offering a discrete, targeted and transparent sales platform for our brand partners,” explains Kisioglu. Another advantage Brandsfever can offer to brand partners, she highlights, is its unique marketing opportunities and consumer insight. “We curate dedicated online marketing events that we promote through email, social media and even offline channels. All our exclusive brand partners have access to a front-end interface on our website which they can log in, track sales, see demographics of the customers who buy their products and gain anonymous insights into behavior patterns of their customers.” Of course, this is all transparent to online consumers who just want the ability to purchase well-known brands at special privileged prices.
“Brandsfever will feature a wide variety of international brands, from fashion to accessories, from toys to kitchen utensils,” says Kisioglu. “We’re aiming for a wide market reach but we’re also selective about the brands that we feature and looking for brands that compliment each other.”
Dealing With Demand
The most challenging part of the experience, admits Kisioglu, will be logistics. “It’s relatively easy to set up a website and start selling products. Effective marketing combined with strong brands can lead to a fast increase in member base,” explains Kisioglu. “However, once the daily deliveries get to a certain size, logistics become critical.”
“If you have a few thousand deliveries per day, how do you effectively manage transportation of goods from the suppliers? Where are the goods sorted and ordered? What’s the best way to package the items? How do you handle returns?”
To deal with these problems, the Brandsfever team – comprising a mix of professionals with backgrounds in information technology, finance, and marketing design – worked on a highly sophisticated yet elegant process incorporating Business Process Modeling (BPM) with an advanced Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to overcome this problem. Brandsfever calls this process its “fashion factory”, and believes this helps keep its competitive edge in the long run.
“I always wanted to start my own business,” reveals Kisioglu, who has a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and e-commerce, and worked for Siemens in Asia Pacific as well as a startup in Turkey. “(Those) were perfect opportunities to gain valuable experience and expand my international network.”
Kisioglu says the most valuable lesson she’s learnt so far is to keep learning constantly, to gain insights into different disciplines and combine that knowledge to leverage in business. “That’s what separates entrepreneurship from other businesses, in my opinion,” she says.
The ﬁrst sale is scheduled to begin on early August. If you’re interested, you’ll have to look for an existing member to invite you into the community!