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For Malaysians like me who want to purchase from global skincare brands that aren’t sold in physical stores like Sephora or pharmacies, going online is our only option. This means looking at sites like HERMO and Favful, Shopee or Lazada resellers, or jumping onto bulk purchases via Instagram stores.

HERMO and Favful aside, some problems with the other methods are that you’re not sure if you can trust these sellers to provide you with the original products (especially if it’s your first time purchasing from them), and that the product information given is usually incomplete.

If you’re often switching up your skincare products, it means going through this process again and again with little assurance that you’ll successfully find a reseller you can trust.

I’ve personally been able to find trusted ones on Shopee who charge an affordable price, but not everyone would get so lucky or be experimental enough to try this method.

Addressing market needs

These issues are what new beauty e-commerce contender Threebs wants to solve. After a soft launch in March 2020, it officially launched in May 2021 via a partnership with JD.com and DKSH.

The team behind the new beauty e-commerce site / Image Credit: Threebs

Like HERMO and Favful, Threebs carries popular international brands like CeraVe which are hard to get locally. But unlike HERMO and Favful, Threebs’ focus is on skincare products. Therefore, it offers a more extensive range for the brands it carries.

“My co-founders and I noticed an opportunity in the niche e-commerce platforms and wanted to bridge the gap between offline retail and online marketplace giants. We realised that we wanted to digitally service industries and products where a high level of trust is required,” Threebs co-founder, Eyo Zhen Yi told Vulcan Post.

“In that process, we decided that we wanted to serve the 3Bs—body, bath, and beauty. And that is how the name Threebs came about. As time went on, I guess “Threebs” was easy to say and the pronunciation just stuck.”

Taking an untapped opportunity

The Threebs team has had experience working with Watsons, Zalora, Abbott & Sanofi, etc. prior to this venture, and working in the beauty industry made Eyo realise that it’s an appreciated and personal business.

At the same time, he saw that there was no dominant local downstream player in the skincare industry. This opened his eyes to an untapped opportunity, and he took it.

Currently, Threebs houses 50 brands and 2,000 products. It’s also sold more than 100K pieces of products at the time of writing. Eyo’s projection is for the brand to hit 250K products sold by the end of 2021, and to house a total of 100 brands. 

To clarify, Threebs isn’t an online marketplace where brands list their products. Rather, their procurement team purchases these products from the brand manufacturers or authorised distributors.

Inside their warehouse / Image Credit: Threebs

Staying data-informed

“Data analytics and big data are words that are widely thrown around in the e-commerce and tech space. Essentially, it’s the process of setting up trackers to acquire data, cleaning the data, generating insights from the data, and making adjustments to the user experience tied to the objectives set,” Eyo explained. 

For the Threebs team, data guides them in introducing new brands all the way down to launching new filter features on the platform. 

For example, they’d monitor if a new filtering feature actually improves the UX via the click-through rate, average session time, and sales conversion rate. Should they want to bring in a new brand, they’d also monitor data like their search engine to see what’s in demand by their users. 

This attention to utilising data effectively is definitely reflected on their site. My first impression of it was that it’s very “clean”, in the sense that there aren’t too many distracting graphics and that the product presentation is quite organised. 

Almost feels like I’m consulting a skincare specialist

What stood out to me on Threebs were the filtering features which include skin type, active ingredients, and benefits, which I can’t find on HERMO, much less Lazada or Shopee.

Instead, these would be filters I’m more likely to find on skincare brands’ sites like Innisfree, Kiehl’s, or The Ordinary. From this alone, I can see the Threebs team’s intention and dedication in ensuring that it’s a beneficial one-stop site for skincare needs, particularly for the brands it carries.

For brands with a ton of products like Cosrx (which is the brand I regularly buy from), it was helpful that they included these filters right on top, and you could also mix and match between what kind of products you want and the active ingredients you’d like in them. 

The filters on Favful and HERMO for the same brand only include skin type and type of product respectively, which means you have to do the research on its ingredients and effects yourself.

With the amount of information given to customers (right down to the size gauge of the product in comparison to an iPhone X), it may feel like Threebs is intimidating to navigate. However, as mentioned earlier, the clean and simplified UI presents you with quite a straightforward experience.

Being so detailed enables it to cater to not only skincare beginners, but also enthusiasts who know exactly what active ingredients they want in their routine.

Following the reception of their website, Eyo teased a potential launch of a Threebs app further down the line. According to him, it’s an idea that many of their customers are keen on as well.

So far, it’d be safe to say that Threebs’ attention to detail has gotten the site a deserved user base, with Eyo sharing that they see an average rate of 60% returning customers month-over-month (MoM).

User experience is its stand-out point

Using Cosrx as an example, its prices on Threebs don’t differ too much from Watsons’, Favful’s, or HERMO’s, which are around RM45. But because I usually do my skincare haul on Shopee, the price difference for me is quite significant.

For instance, I’d usually get the Cosrx Low PH Cleanser for RM23.80 on Shopee, which is almost 50% cheaper. On the official Cosrx Shopee store, however, the normal price (without discount) is about RM55, so the cleanser’s pricing has been marked down on these websites.

When it comes to The Ordinary’s products, Threebs’ pricing is a few Ringgit cheaper compared to Favful’s. Meanwhile, HERMO no longer carries the brand.

For those of us who are keen on saving a buck or two with each purchase, Threebs would likely be your chosen site, but more than just its pricing, it’s the curated user experience offered that would solidify its longevity in the skincare e-commerce industry.

Though most users would flock to the site for the global skincare brands it carries, Threebs also lists Malaysian brand À La Carte’s products. It’s nice that it’s supporting a local brand, and it’d be interesting to see what others it’ll bring on board.

  • You can learn more about Threebs here.
  • You can read about more e-commerce platforms we’ve covered here

Featured Image Credit: Eyo Zhen Yi, co-founder of Threebs

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)