It’s been a while since we last heard from Reebonz, the Singapore-headquartered ecommerce site for luxury fashion. The company hasn’t been idle – just this week it announced the official opening of its Ecommerce Hub, a 200,000-square foot building that will house its entire business in Singapore.
The new headquarters – so new they are literally still laying down roads around it – will house Reebonz’s management and operations as well as its entire warehousing and distribution facilities.
Reebonz expects to reach profitability by the end of this year.
Since raising US$40 million in a series C round from investors like Singapore’s Mediacorp and Vertex Ventures in 2013, the company has been beefing up its consumer-centric platforms. Besides selling its own inventory to customers and bridging online and offline through physical pop-up stores, Reebonz offers various other methods for users to sell and buy pre-owned stuff – always revolving around luxury clothing and accessories.
For example, Closets is a Carousell-like app for listing and selling your own items. White Glove is where Reebonz takes your pre-owned designer item, authenticates it, takes professional shots of it, and puts it up for sale. And Boutiques allows fashion merchants to move their inventory online.
This multi-layer approach allows Reebonz to carefully curate its business-to-consumer offering without breaking the bank. “We will only buy the best brands and products and we focus a lot on accessories,” co-founder Daniel Lim tells Tech in Asia. “The marketplaces allow us to get that long tail of products that we might otherwise not buy in stock.”
Pre-owned items from its peer-to-peer marketplaces now account for 45 percent of Reebonz’s gross merchandise volume, Lim says. “It’s a growing part of the business and it gives us scalability.”
A new home
The US$29 million Ecommerce Hub houses all of this in Singapore – from offices and warehouse space (complete with a robotic closet that securely stores items of value like watches, jewelry, and branded bags) to a dedicated exhibition space for boutique items. Reebonz is bringing independent luxury designers under its roof to showcase their products there, while also helping them market and sell online.
This is also where the authentication and grading of items happens. Experts verify that products are authentic and grade them according to their state of use. Products are marked with an invisible ink-like pen so that the company knows when an item that’s already gone through Reebonz’s certification process comes back in for sale. It saves time and resources, as the item doesn’t need to be re-authenticated.
Items are tagged, stored, and eventually shipped in Reebonz’s signature packaging of a black box wrapped in a gold ribbon.
Elsewhere, watch specialists test timepieces that come through the marketplace, leatherworkers touch up minor scrapes on items, and a gemologist makes sure that jewelry is up to par.
It’s all part of Reebonz’s stated mission to “make luxury accessible” – its various services revolve around that, Lim says. “That forms the ecosystem of luxury that involves buying and selling of both brand new and pre-owned products. I think we are unique in that sense,” he adds.
Reaching new markets
Reebonz employs 300 people and has expanded into several cities in Asia-Pacific. Besides Singapore, it currently has offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan. Its products are shipped in several markets worldwide, including the US and China.
China is one of Reebonz’s biggest markets at the moment.
In fact, China is one of the company’s biggest markets at the moment, along with Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, Lim says. Reebonz has adopted a different strategy for China, given its uniqueness as a market. It works with local marketplaces that have an established audience and infrastructure like payment options, for example.
The company has been helped along in its expansion by Singapore government initiatives. IE Singapore, the agency responsible for helping local companies go cross-border, assisted it with setting up its overseas offices. Reebonz also benefited from development grants from enterprise builder Spring Singapore.
Lim doesn’t share how much external funding Reebonz has raised in total, nor does he reveal any figures about the company’s gross merchandise value or revenue. The plan is to keep growing the company within its specialized niche – luxury ecommerce.
It’s keeping its options open in terms of an endgame, including a potential IPO. “We want to stay in the game, and the key is to be sustainable without requiring tons and tons of capital,” Lim says. Reebonz expects to reach profitability by the end of this year, he adds.
Reebonz’s position in its chosen specialty seems established, but it doesn’t mean it’s without competition. Singapore-based StyleTribute, for example, offers a similar peer-to-peer model for pre-owned luxury fashion items. And the iFashion group has been steadily adding to its stable of fashion-related marketplaces and retailers, although it’s not focused exclusively on expensive brands.
Converted from Singapore dollars. US$1 = S$1.39