Guangzhou Huimei Fashion Co. is increasing its online sales rapidly and turning inventory more quickly by relying on shopper feedback on social networks.
Humei, No. 51 in the Internet Retailer China 500, estimates its sales will grow about 60% in 2014 and says mobile devices now account for more than 50% of sales. The web-only retailer reported 2013 sales of 1.12 billion yuan ($184.8 million), representing rapid growth for a company that five years ago was just a small clothing workshop with 20 workers.
A big part of its success stems from paying close attention to how consumers react to products it introduces online, says Fang Jianhua, founder and president of Huimei. “The main advantage of online retailers is that we face the consumers directly,” he says. “We can easily collect demand information and anticipate which products will sell faster.”
Huimei collects that feedback by posting new products to Chinese social media platforms, such as Wechat, and inviting consumers to vote for their favorite designs. Based on their responses, Huimei adjusts the orders it places with suppliers.
Fang says another measure Huimei uses to control inventory is to produce a small quantity of each product at first, then placing additional orders when a product performs well. He says that approach helps Huimei turn over its inventory about every 50 days, about twice as fast as most apparel retailers in China.
Huimei is expanding its target audience by adding new brands. Huimei last year acquired designer fashion brand Chuyu and this year launched a new high-end brand, A Life On the Left, whose products have an average price of more than 800 yuan ($131). That gives Huimei a total of six apparel brands, including its flagship brand Inman.
To study the behavior of mobile consumers, Huimei has set up a mobile commerce team, and the company says 50% sales now come from mobile devices.
“My plan is to own and operate more than seven fashion brands by 2016 and increase our mobile sales to 70% of total sales.” Fang says.
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