But Crisanti Indiana has done the unexpected: It has expanded its e-commerce business — offline.
“A lot of people actually told us it was a very bold move to open an offline presence, while everyone else was closing their offline stores [during the pandemic],” she added.
But this was a “well-calculated” move for Social Bella, which runs Sociolla.
She added, “We know this is the time for us to really prepare… to make sure that after the pandemic, we can serve more and more consumers.”
Looking far ahead turned out to be the right move for the 31-year-old. Her online and offline approach has turned her e-commerce startup into a multi-million dollar beauty conglomerate.
Since 2018, it has raised around $225 million, attracting an impressive list of investors including East Ventures, Jungle Ventures, Temasek and Pavilion Capital.
Indiana, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Social Bella . tells us CNBC Make It How she took her startup in Jakarta to the next level.
The idea for Sociolla emerged in 2015, when Indiana returned to her hometown of Jakarta, after studying in Australia.
The makeup addict realized that in Australia, she had easy access to a wide range of beauty products from international brands. This was a stark contrast to Indonesia.
“There was a lot of choice for me, but then I came back and there was no choice left,” Indiana said.
“There wasn’t a platform that had it all – I had to find specific sellers on social media, and ask friends who could help buy the product for you. [when they are] overseas.”
To make matters worse for her, however, was the proliferation of fake makeup products online, which sometimes sold for “a fraction” of the price of the original product.
“I still vividly remember in my mind that there are a lot of similar sellers online, especially on social media, who claim that their products are 99% authentic. What does that mean, that they are 99% authentic?”
In fact, fakes are locally prevalent in Indonesia, thanks to cheap labor and material costs. according to local reportIn 2018, Indonesian authorities seized $9 million worth of illegal cosmetics – double the previous year’s amount.
Seeing friends buying these products left Indiana baffled.
“It’s skincare, it’s makeup. It’s something you put on your skin. It’s kind of weird to me,” she said.
Determined to build a space where consumers can get safe and authentic products, Indiana teamed up with her brother and friend to launch Social Bella, with a seed capital of $13,000.
“Since we started, we ensure that we only work with authorized distributors or brand owners,” Indiana said.
Sociolla may have started as an e-commerce platform, but the trio had bigger dreams.
Since then, Social Bella has gone beyond offline stores – it’s also a distributor for cosmetic and personal care manufacturers around the world.
“We have become a co-partner of many international brands in Indonesia. We not only help them distribute their products to Indonesia, but we also help them understand the market,” said Indiana.
Moreover, the company also operates Soko, which Social Bella says is Indonesia’s largest online review service for beauty products. Soco has collected over 2.5 million reviews for around 36,000 products, The company added.
Indiana said customers’ “beauty journey” goes beyond putting something in their shopping carts and checking out.
“We realized that there are a lot of touch points that are really important… Finding the right products for yourself is not just about going to the store and choosing it. And you will be sure to read the reviews and talk to your friends, or The Google Or not “.
“Soco makes sure they have access to plenty of product reviews before purchasing products.”
This is all part of building a business “ecosystem,” as Indiana calls it.
“We want … to serve more and more women, not only in beauty and personal care, but also in other industries.”
The startup appears to be on the right track — it now has more than 30 million users across all of its business units, Social Bella said, and sells a stockpile of 12,000 products from 400 brands around the world.
Over the past two years, Social Bella has expanded significantly, growing from just three Sociolla stores in Indonesia in 2020, to 47 stores there and 16 in Vietnam today.
While a lot of the expansion has happened during the pandemic, Indiana said that has always been part of the e-commerce platform’s plan, shutdowns or not.
“It’s actually creating an end-to-end multi-channel experience…because we believe we serve the same customer whether they’re shopping offline or online,” Forbes ’30 Under 30 Asia Tribute He said.
“They can choose the click and collect action or … she can also have purchases delivered to her home. He makes sure she can shop the way she wants.”