- Business Insider / Jessica Lin
Fashion label Love, Bonito has secured $13 million (S$17 million) in a Series B funding round led by Japanese Internet services company Kakaku.com with existing investor NSI Ventures.
The Singapore brand said on Thursday (Feb 1) that the funding will go towards its efforts in building what it calls “new community-based retail experiences” that integrate online retail strategies with “meaningful offline, in-store experiences”.
In an interview with Business Insider, Love, Bonito’s chief commercial officer, Dione Song, said that the $13 million will go into three key areas of focus – technology, manpower and regional expansion.
- Love, Bonito
“The bulk of (the funding) will be (for) technology… ramping up the technology stack so that we can expand well when it comes to omni-channel activities,” Ms Song said.
This includes better targeting, improved in-store retail experiences, as well as boosting the brand’s retail tech with more digital touchpoints.
Technology investments will also come in the form of system enhancements so that the company can introduce more automation processes that improve productivity and efficiency, she added.
The company, which had humble beginnings as one of Singapore’s first successful blogshops, is also planning on adding headcount to its team of 80.
Apart from investing in its current team, Ms Song said Love, Bonito will also be growing its talent base in Singapore and the region.
“We’re looking to expand our team size by around 50 per cent over the next 12 to 18 months. This will predominantly be across Singapore especially in the technology and data team, (and) across Malaysia as well,” she said.
With a team strength of about 20 in Malaysia and 30 in Indonesia currently, Ms Song believes that Love, Bonito’s investments in manpower will help it expand more aggressively and deeper into these markets “in an omni-channel way”.
When it comes to regional expansion, Ms Song said the company expects the funding to also be used for further investment decisions such as the possibility of more retail spaces as well as distribution centres and hubs.
As for its operations in Singapore, Ms Song said that the brand’s three-month-old flagship store at 313@Somerset has had very promising performance.
In fact, the company is now exploring taking a similar strategy to its regional operations.
“The (Singapore) flagship store sort of sets the bar for us as the benchmark of how we want to take the experiential and retail phase forward in the region.
“We want the stores to be something different, unique and a bit more fun, where customers come in and it’s just a slightly different experience from your usual store visits. So you can expect a similar expansion from us in the other markets,” she said.
She also added that while it’s too early to say if there will be more Singapore stores, Love, Bonito was “definitely open to expanding further in the Singapore offline space moving forward”.
With the latest round of funding, the brand expects to also benefit from Kakaku.com’s consumer and technology expertise.
“Especially with the launch of (Love, Bonito’s) first flagship store in Singapore, it is redefining the fast fashion e-commerce landscape in Asia and how brands will engage with the digital consumer,” said Sugihara Genta, Senior Executive Officer and General Manager at Kakaku.com.