Business booms on one T-shirt a day
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A new online shop that sells limited edition designer T-shirts has become the talk of the town in Taiwan thanks to its unique marketing gimmick - selling just one product a day.
Since buy365.com opened on June 25, it has attracted tens of thousands of viewers looking for T-shirts put on sale for 24 hours.
Kelly Liao, one of the four co-founders of buy365.com, said the online shop, modelled on US-based Woot, will put out a T-shirt at midnight every day for customers to order.
Then, at the end of 24 hours, the shop will no longer accept orders, regardless of how well it has sold.
'You know most people hate dressing in the same clothes as others at parties or other social gatherings,' Liao said.
'The idea of selling one product a day is to make the buyers think that they can dress distinctively from others.
'Besides, it is getting more and more popular in Taiwan for people to buy limited editions of a product.'
Illustrations of designer T-shirts on its website are accompanied by a notice saying: 'These T-shirts - already sold - have now become the last editions and are no longer available here.'
Liao and the other co-founders of buy365,com - her husband Andy Kuo, 33, her brother-in-law Jerry Kuo, 36, and her sister-in-law Cindy Wu - were also the co-founders of Atlaspost, a popular location-based blog and social networking service set up in Taiwan in 2007.
US-based Groupon bought Atlaspost from them in 2010 for a reported US$300,000 in a bid to enter the Taiwanese market.
The Kuo brothers were educated in the US and have experience in business management and business software development.
Liao and Wu worked in marketing and business management in Taiwan before switching to their own online business careers.
Asked how buy365.com is able to attract customers, Liao said it had signed up what it considered the best designers to produce a T-shirt every day, and the designs must be capable of attracting attention. She said half the designers were amateurs, while the rest already had established reputations in the fashion world.
'Theoretically, we should have 365 designers for an entire year, but if some designers are greatly favoured by customers, we might have their works come out every week,' she said.
Several months before buy365 was launched, Liao said it started inviting talented designers who were not well-known to send in their designs for consideration.
'If their works are accepted, we would then buy the designs from them for use in the T-shirts,' she said.
Another way it found designers was to look on YouTube or other websites for designers who had established their own brands or well-known cartoonists.
The designer of buy365.com's first T-shirt designer, Shadox, is a Taiwanese comic strip artist who has a clip on YouTube called The Little Match Girl which has received more than 27 million viewers.
His T-shirt design, which featured a tiny version of the Little Match Girl being chased by vacuum cleaners, attracted 277 orders.
Another established Taiwanese designer, M. J. Jack, came up with a unique chi kuai a ni (you are so funny) design, inspired by a funny incident involving Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and his wife Christine Chou Mei-ching ahead of Ma's swearing in for a second four-year term on May 20. Ma and Chou were supposed to arrive for the inauguration ceremony at the same time, but an anxious Ma walked so fast Chou could not keep up with him. Chou finally asked him to slow down and told him, 'chi kuai a ni', Taiwanese media reported.
The designer borrowed the idea and conceptualised it in cartoon image showing a grim-faced Chou shouting 'chi kuai a ni'. That T-shirt received more than 117 orders.
But other designs have attracted less than 30 orders, which means that the online store loses money because of its 24-hour trading limit.
'Although it is a pity to not let a well-sold T-shirt get into the market again, it is what the website features,' Liao said, explaining why it did not sell more T-shirts with popular designs to make up for the failures.
The shop does not reveal the design for the next day, hoping to keep the sense of anticipation, and consumer interest, high. 'What we will sell the next day is completely classified, and will only be announced at midnight, which gives the consumers a surprise to see different designs every day,' Liao said.
Liao said that in the beginning buy365.com charged NT$299 (HK$78) per T-shirt, plus NT$50 in delivery charges, but the price of a T-shirt rose to NT$349 this month.
'Normally, a designer T-shirt should cost NT$600 to NT$1,000 in Taiwan, and we are losing money by selling at such prices,' Liao said.
She declined to say how much it paid designers but some media reports have said it offers just NT$3,000 per design, which some designers have said is too low.
Liao said there is no immediate plan to sell overseas, though there have been requests from Hong Kong, Malaysia and other parts of Asia.
T-shirts form this percentage of Taiwan's clothing market, with buy365.com selling its products at NT$349 (HK$90) each