Australia’s largest beauty box subscription service bellabox has announced its expansion into the Chinese market via a partnership between Australia Post (the state-owned mail service) and Alibaba’s Tmall.
“I think where we see the opportunity with China is certainly the partnership with Tmall. But I really think the Chinese consumer has shown a huge appetite for Australian products…I understand how China can be perceived as being hard, but for us it was more like a huge opportunity,” bellabox CEO and Co-founder Sarah Hamilton told e27.
bellabox delivers personalised monthly beauty boxes to over 40,000 subscribers across the APAC region. A subscription in Australia costs AU$15 (US$10.50) per month or a yearly subscription goes for AU$199.95 (US$140), plus shipping and handling costs.
However, Hamilton said the startup is tweaking the business model for China. Instead of offering a subscription service, it will offer themed packages available for ad-hoc purchase.
Australia Post’s China alliance
Australia Post recently underwent a strategic shift with the explicit goal of making the Chinese market more accessible to Australian e-commerce companies. The national mail service has built a platform integrating Tmall into a business online store — essentially acting as a middle-man between the two markets.
To date, 36 Australian brands have entered the Chinese market through Australia Post.
“Australia Post’s Tmall storefront is helping home-grown businesses, like bellabox, sell into China – one of the world’s largest consumer markets,” said Australia Post’s General Manager of Global eCommerce Platforms and Digital, in an official statement.
“We are working with Australia Post and Tmall and they have a deal to use Australia Post to get the products into Shanghai and then use China Post to deliver [the product] where it needs to go,” said Hamilton.
This arrangement means that bellabox will not have satellite offices in China.
Hamilton also cited the China-Australia free trade agreement signed in June as legislation that directly helped bellabox enter the new market.
The move into China is actually a re-entry into the Asian market after the company closed shop in Singapore last March.
“Singapore is a great market…but what we found is a lot of brand loyalty for a small number of brands…so we didn’t see the type of growth we saw in Australia, and when we looked at the company we decided to focus on Australia and then expand out from there,” said Hamilton.
bellabox was founded in 2011 and has received US$7 million of funding to date — including a US$2.7 million round lead by Allure Media last September.
Hamilton told e27 the company is sustainable on its current revenue model and there is no funding news on the horizon.