Japan's @cosme ready to spread across Asia
First overseas stores to open in Taiwan and Hong Kong
TOKYO -- Get ready, Taiwan, a brick-and-mortar @cosme store is coming your way.
In fact, istyle, the operator of the well-regarded cosmetics review website and retail chain in Japan, is planning to open stores across Asia.
The Taiwan store opens in May.
Istyle in 2007 began opening @cosme stores in Japan, bringing together brands that used to only be found in drugstores with those that could only be had at specialty stores.
The chain is an outgrowth of a website that gained widespread popularity on word of mouth.
The stores make it easy for customers to find products that rank high on the site or enjoy high customer ratings. They also let shoppers try out a variety of products and draw an enthusiastic female clientele.
But istyle's business plan for the rest of Asia will follow the exact opposite path of its success in Japan: It will first open stores, then go live with websites in the native language.
"We will establish a foothold in foreign markets by first opening stores," istyle President Tetsuro Yoshimatsu said.
After opening the first outlet, the company plans to add three or more stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong by summer.
So far, most of istyle's overseas business dealings have been focused on the wholesaling of cosmetics and cross-border e-commerce in China.
After opening stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong, @cosme plans to spread across the rest of Asia.
A company survey shows that 80% of Taiwanese female respondents know of @cosme. Already,drugstores on the island build displays of products that have been featured on @cosme.
The overseas stores will carry products that get good ratings on the @cosme website, sell well at its stores in Japan and get good coverage in local media. In time, sales data from the new stores themselves will figure into product selection.