Q&A: Baby products unicorn grows from Taobao shop

Mia.com, a cross-border e-commerce platform for baby products, reached a valuation of USD one billion last September, reaching “unicorn” status. Unexpectedly, this unicorn grew out of a shop on Taobao which was run by stay-at-home mother Liu Nan. In March 2014, Liu left Taobao to launch her own e-commerce platform. Now, the company not only operates its business online but also sees great potential in the offline mother-and-child market. A spokesperson from Mia talked to us about how it stays competitive.

How do you view your offline business?

We see great potential in the offline market. Because couples change after they have babies. They have to go out more, and start needing offline services like early education. There’s data showing that the penetration rate of services for children in shopping centers increased from 5% in 2011 to 15% in 2015. So far we have launched some offline businesses, which include an offline store in Hainan province and some hospitals.

What’s your advantage over other e-commerce platforms?

Our advantages lie in two aspects. First, we really know what mothers need. More than 70% of our staff have children, so we know the physical and psychological needs of our target consumers and know how to meet their demands. Second, we have an extensive supply chain. In July 2015, we inked strategic cooperation agreements with six leading global milk powder suppliers including Danone, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Wyeth. We also signed strategic cooperation agreements with many leading disposable diaper brands like Huggies, Moony and Pampers.

How do you respond to China’s new tax regulations for cross-border e-commerce?

We can say that China’s new tax regulations is a watershed for the cross-border e-commerce industry, and we will enter a new era henceforth.

After the implementation of the new tax regulations, consumers will see an increase on the whole in overseas products, especially baby products. To offset the price increase created by the new regulations, Mia will pay for the taxes so consumers don’t have to pay the 11.9% tax on certain products like imported milk powder. In addition, we are working with third parties to build a traceability mechanism for overseas milk powder so that we can keep track of the transaction from manufacturer to consumer and keep the process transparent to consumers.

How have you grown?  

The development of our company can be divided into three phases since we went online in 2014. In the first phase, we were purely an e-commerce platform. We cooperated with leading global suppliers of milk powder and disposable diapers to provide our consumers with quality products. In the second phase, we were an e-commerce platform combined with a social network. We built a community in our app where users can express their opinions of our products. In this way, we can improve our relationship with consumers and attract more users. In the third phase, we are planning to build an ecosystem based on the needs of mothers and babies that incorporates offline businesses.

Any plans to expand your business this year? Will you consider an IPO?

We are a company targeting mothers and children, so we will sell products related to them. This year, we will sell more cosmetics on our platform. When mothers purchase goods for their children on our platform, they also can buy something for themselves.

It is not difficult to go public. It’s all about timing and opportunity. So far we have good cash flow and we are not in a hurry. It also depends on the state of the capital market.

(Top photo is a screenshot from mia.com.)

AllTechAsia Staff

AllTechAsia is a startup media platform dedicated to providing the hottest news, data service and analysis on the tech and startup scene of Asian markets in English.

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