Glamour-Sales is, along with Oak Lawn Marketing, one of very few success stories among Japanese non-store businesses set up by foreign residents. Since the launch five years ago, Glamour-Sales has carved a significant share of the flash sales market. Following US$65 million in new backing last year, it is expanding quickly, and with 50% of brands from overseas, is proving a useful partner for international consumer goods businesses.
GLS Japan, which operates the flash sales site Glamour-sales.com, has been enjoying record sales this last year. December 14 saw its highest daily sales ever, up 120% on the year before, with turnover doubling each year since inception. Sales this year look set to double again and it already claims to be the number one flash sales business in the lifestyle category in Japan.
Glamour-sales is a free, members-only flash sale service, offering heavy discounts on big and small brands across a broad range of products from accessories, apparel, cosmetics to kitchenware. Established in 2009 by serial French entrepreneurs in Asia, Olivier Chouvet and Alain Soulas with a team of local experts, GLS Japan has 1.6 million members, of which a record 500,000 joined in the last year.
Of the 1.6 million members, 70% are women with 60% in their 30s and 40s. Positioned as a curated lifestyle site, the typical member is around 36, either a housewife or working woman, with interests in fashion, cosmetics, cooking, entertainment and travel. The data collected is becoming the crown jewel of the business, with GLS able to offer clients deep analysis of responses to campaigns by age, area, clicks and sales over time by hour and price adjustments – including response by price change across segment.
As well as the data, GLS Japan works closely with brands to help promote not just the product but also the brand. Not surprisingly, the service is popular, with over 3,000 brands on portfolio, of which 50% are domestic and the rest from overseas. GLS says many brands achieve sales through Glamour-Sales that are higher than their best outlet stores, and at a much lower cost of sales. As well as marketing of the brand and product, GLS also arranges other promotions, such as giving out samples of a cosmetics product, and carrying out focus groups to help brands better understand their market or a potential new segment.
Glamour-sales continues to introduce new brands, with around 20,000 new SKUs added each month. Apparel makes up the bulk of sales, at around 40%, with bags and other accessories 10%, footwear 15%, jewellery 10% and homeware 10% – strong brands like Le Creuset do particularly well.
The service is an effortless way for brands across a multitude of product categories to reach this important market of women in their 30s and 40s. GLS has a tightly integrated operation with 150 staff running its own photo studios for product images, IT, and marketing. Logistics are handled in close conjunction with a third-party. The process is quick; GLS says the turnaround from product selection to sales averages four weeks.
With a solid base, and profitable too if you take out marketing campaigns, GLS Japan is now investing further in broadening its reach both in Japan and China. In April it raised US$65 million and some of this is going into new marketing programmes including TV spots and train posters. This has already helped raise brand awareness within Tokyo from 8% a year ago to 25% now.
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