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Yaok offers online service for luxury boutiques

Chinese company Yaok has built an online reservation service for offline brand boutiques to tackle the online/offline conflict.

It is the result of 10 years of market research the preparation, including five years of in-depth communication with more than 100 luxury brands.

Founder/CEO Steven Yao says that many luxury brands, including Chanel and Dior, have realised the importance of the internet, but while finding online partners still have concerns about brand image.

“Everyone is looking for an online solution, especially one that’s appealing to Chinese consumers,” he says. “Unfortunately, current Chinese online players can’t fulfill luxury-brand needs because of false brand perception, unfit target audience, and lack of control on product authenticity.

“Some chose to set up their own eCommerce platforms, but found it difficult to attract traffic with one single brand.”

Through Yaok, a brand can have its own official reservation platform, giving it absolute control in managing its image, product inventory, order status and customer database. It also allows instant communication between brand and customer.

According to the China’s Fortune Character Institute, 73 per cent of Chinese consumers have a shopping list before overseas travel, 45 per cent of which cannot be fulfilled because of such factors as lack of desired size or model, resulting in loss of sales and unsatisfying customer experiences.

Agreements in place

Yaok lets customers reserve products in advance and have VIP services in store. Already the company has global or regional collaboration agreements with most international luxury brands.

Yao says that when the platform officially launches at the end of next month, products from 80 per cent of luxury brands will be available. Users will be able to make VIP reservations in nine countries and regions.

He estimates that 500,000 shoppers, all with a net wealth exceeding $2 million, will use Yaok to buy luxury goods globally. Its prestige service is either by invitation only or for current brand VIPs. Applications can be submitted via Yaok app or WeChat, but acceptance is not guaranteed.

Yaok has completed two rounds of fundraising, with Feng Ye as angel investor.

Yao was the first CEO for the Hurun Report, the magazine known for its “China Rich List”. Other core Yaok members have also worked in brand houses like Giorgio Armani or Louis Vuitton for more than 10 years.

Yaok is affiliated to the Fortune Character group, founded in 2008, which specialises in researching the luxury market.

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