Meet the Hong Kong concierge companies that can source those things you’ve always wanted

Asian shoppers are enlisting concierge companies and luxury specialists to scour the planet for those covetable or hard-to-find fashion items

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 5:54pm

Online shopping may have made high fashion more accessible, but as the e-commerce space becomes more crowded, Asian shoppers are relying on concierge companies and luxury specialists to help them navigate the increasingly crowded marketplace.

“The internet has transformed the way people shop, but more choice makes it more difficult to get what you want. Many of our Asian clients are coming to us to help source limited edition or hard-to-get items, be it fashion or otherwise. This service has always been one of our key deliverables but now we have a team of six specialists in London who work directly with brands and other sources,” says Emma Sherrard, executive chairman of Quintessentially Asia Pacific.

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Although Quintessentially is known for giving members access to a number of exclusive services associated with lifestyle, travel or dining, the company has received an increasing number of requests to source covetable fashion items for Asian clients. Recent finds have included a Hermes limited edition Bolide 45 Shark travel bag and a Patek Philippe 40th Anniversary Edition Nautilus Platinum Watch (only 700 pieces were made).

“It’s complicated to do yourself especially if the item is overseas which means taxes and duties may be involved. We leverage our global network to find it, and just ask members to pay any additional fees (such as shipping and taxes). We don’t charge a markup,” says Sherrard.

Relaunched late last year, New York-based The Luxe Link, is another business that is capitalising on this growing demand from Asia. Originally founded in 2006 as ShopGopher, the company helps shoppers purchase and acquire items from US-based retailers. As part of their newly expanded offerings the Luxe Link now offers a more comprehensive service including research, purchasing and door-to-door delivery, coordinated by a team of five specialists.

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“Now that so many websites ship internationally, people ask why do we still exist? The most obvious difference is that we help refine your search. Luxury clients want personal advice on how and where to purchase their items. An automated search engine service cannot provide that advice, nor can a personal shopper tied to in-house inventory. There are so many other variables to think about – the best price or if the item is the same as what’s described online for example,” says co-founder and chief executive, Francis Seow.

Using The Luxe Link is easy. Customers fill in an online form, email or Whatsapp the team with their request. Within a few hours the company will present the client with several options and the price, including a 10 per cent service charge and applicable shipping costs. In most cases the item is returnable but if not, the client is informed of this before the order is approved and completed.

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While many Asians tend to favour package forwarding services like myus.com and Borderfree.com for their international shopping needs, Seow says The Luxe Link is more customer service oriented.

“We go the extra mile. We tell you the pros and cons for each retailer and if there are any special deals. We handle the product once it arrives and even pack multiple orders into one box to keep shipping costs low. We make sure everything comes in perfect condition and can catch damaged items or wrong sizes. We even purchase the item for the customer on our card or using out company’s info so there’s no chance of credit card fraud. Our return ratio is less than 1 per cent.”

Currently 65 per cent of their clients are Asia based, with 90 per cent of them being female. Demand is high for brands like Chanel, Christian Dior and Saint Laurent. While luxury brands tend to dominate requests, Seow has noticed a growing demand for sneakers, such as Adidas’ collaborations and Kanye West’s popular Yeezy line which can sell for five times the original price on Ebay.

“Asians generally come for handbags, shoes and clothing that either the local buyers didn’t bring in, or that have sold out. Items are usually sourced through designer boutiques and major and independent department stores. We also have the ability to search parts of Europe and Canada. Our customers on us to hustle and we have the network and find it at the best possible price, with quickest delivery time.

“More than just being a service, our clients have started to view us as partners so we now have a new dimension to the business where we recommend independent designers or even connect our customers with people that can help with requests we can’t handle, such as sourcing gemstones,” says Seow.