2023: I no longer hold a similar view today as I did in 2017, which is my thoughts as below. Since 2017, much has changed in the e-commerce industry, and in the reliability and setup of such portals like Lazada and Shopee, which now form a significant backbone of e-commerce in Malaysia. There are differing opinions on whether discounts ‘cheapen’ a brand, but as a commentator has pointed out, quite correctly, it is ultimately the consumer’s choice, and it is no place for me (or anyone) to gatekeep the accessibility of brands. It is better that they get such a discount from the official brand, as opposed to buying from other, potentially unreliable, sellers. The e-commerce landscape in Malaysia is quite different today than it was back in 2017 – and it is a far better place today than it was back then, both for sellers and buyers.
We had a long weekend here in Malaysia, and I’d spent a pretty packed few days wrestling with little monsters, so come Sunday, I was flat out of energy, and hiding in my cave. Quite literally. I spent most of the day lounging on my couch, catching up on blog reading (never let your unread posts build up in your feed reader past 500!), content in the knowledge that I’d had the prescience to write and schedule a blog post for today. Yay me!
The rest of the day was scheduled for mindless TV watching, with occasional trips to the fridge, and maybe to fix myself a meal. That was until I scanned Twitter in the afternoon, and came across a tweet that incensed me so greatly, I was galvanised into action, to fire up the computer, and to boot off my scheduled blog post to publish this rant instead.
I’d read that Clinique Malaysia has only just gone and launched an “Official Flagship Store” on local shopping portal, Lazada. My tweet, with its typo and all (It should read “My estimation of Clinique has dropped even further” – Ben had nothing to do with it, sorry Ben LOL 😀 ) pretty much sums up what I feel about this piece of news.
But I am curious as to what YOU might think. Is this a welcome piece of news for you? Does this irritate you as much as it does me (I’m often in the minority in my opinion of this, I’m aware)? Or do you not care because online shopping isn’t your thing? Let me know! (It’s OK not to agree with me 😀 )
I am an avid online shopper. But I am a very wary shopper, who treads very carefully. Unlike many people, I am very open to buying my cosmetics online. Often, without having first had a look or sniff at them. I buy makeup without swatching and I buy skincare without testing, relying primarily on blogs to give me a rough idea of what to expect.
But I am very careful about where I shop. If I can buy from the brand directly, I do so. If shipping costs or restrictions do not permit, I turn to reputable online stores, or online department stores to hook me up. The one place I do not turn to for my beauty purchases is Lazada.
The reason is simple. I don’t trust them when it comes to products I ingest, whether through my skin or orally. I won’t buy food or drink, and by the same token, I will not buy cosmetics. Lazada is kind of like Amazon. A virtual marketplace where sellers can hawk their wares, with logistics being taken care of by Lazada. Authenticity is always an issue and so is product integrity.
You just have to do a quick search on Lazada to see what I mean. By way of example, I’ve done a search on one of my favourite products from Clinique – the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.
You can see that there are over 500 items found for this search alone (not all of it specific), which I intentionally made very narrow. The first item is, from what I can tell, from the official Clinique store on Lazada, as there is a logo (which is easy to overlook). But I invite you to look at the range of prices of the various products. Every single item displayed on there is significantly CHEAPER than the official product. They do state that they are shipped from overseas, but for some people, that does not matter. It doesn’t matter to me, if I can save almost HALF the price. I can wait.
“Ah, but is it authentic?” You may say. Well, to be very honest, authenticity is not something that many people lay great score by. I’m just speaking the truth, for otherwise fake goods will not proliferate. For those of us for whom it matters, we won’t be on Lazada looking for “beauty deals”. We’d be on legitimate, reputable websites, snapping up their deals or getting gift with purchases. We’d be on Sephora (as much as I have my beef with them), and we’d be on the OFFICIAL CLINIQUE MALAYSIA WEBSITE! Yes, Clinique has their own website. Are you surprised?
This is the Clinique Malaysia website.
I’d actually bought from the Clinique website before, and if I’m to be honest, it was not the snappiest purchase I’d ever made. It took 3-4 days to arrive, which for me is unacceptable when you have to a) pay for shipping and b) deliver within a 20km radius. I do not know if they have improved in recent times, as I’d stopped using most Clinique skincare products for a while until the Moisture Surge Supercharged Concentrate earlier this year, that I particularly enjoy using. In a way, I sort of outgrew the brand, although their makeup seems to be improving and still interests me. But that’s a different story. But in terms of my purchase, I knew where I was buying from, who was the seller, and more importantly, who I can hold accountable if something goes wrong with my purchase.
What then pisses me off, is that a brand like Clinique would rather outsource their “Official Flagship Store”, as they call it, to a third party website, lose their branding and to customers like me, their credibility, instead of improving on their own website and delivery. I’d expect them to make their own website the flagship store. Isn’t that what it means? A “flagship store” is your primary location, your lead store, your first port of call, as it were. To let go of that, to a third party, when you have your own store on the internet, is mind-boggling to me, from a branding perspective.
What is interesting to me, is that I’d spoken to a few people in recent weeks, who told me that many brands were doing this i.e. using Lazada or 11Street (which I cannot stand! Don’t get me started on them) as their “Official Webstore” due to logistics. They don’t want to set up a department for digital marketing, or a team to handle their online store because of costs. They would rather pay someone else to do it for them, and leverage off their resources and logistics.
Enter Lazada, and in a smaller scale, 11 Street (A website I cannot understand, that is a mess and that I refuse to buy from after 1 experience. It was just toilet paper. You’d think it would be painless 😛 ).
This issue of logistics, and manpower is, I believe, why I’m starting to see more than a few beauty brands setting up “Official Stores” on platforms like Lazada and 11Street – Clinique now has it, Benefit is the other, and I see brands like Origins and Laneige on there. On 11Street, I see more of the smaller Korean brands – Mamonde, Innisfreee etc. Personally, I feel this move is a cheapening of the brand, and a watering down of the goodwill the brand name carries.
Everyone who has ever shopped at Lazada or 11street knows that you never pay full price there. There is always a discount code you can use, or discounts tied to credit cards, and prices on Lazada are always marked down. You’d be pretty much a fool to pay retail prices when shopping at Lazada. No one does! My example of a search on Clinique products on Lazada is proof. Why pay full price, when you can save 40%? Clinique has in essence, put themselves in direct competition with the grey market. It’s like they have set up stall in the pasar malam, thinking that their name alone will save the day and bring in the sales.
And that disappoints me.
Clinique has counters in department stores, and they even have their own stores in high-end malls. They have their own website, and are sold in Sephora, which has credibility and a certain status. Clinique is not a very expensive brand, but they are reputable, effective and has a certain standing in the beauty scene.
This is not a brand I associate with having a booth at a marketplace bazaar, which is what having an “Official Flagship Store” on Lazada really means. This is not a brand I expect to have people sidle up to and ask “Eh, got discount ah?” which is what selling on Lazada really means. This is not a brand I’d expect to trumpet “Buy our products on Lazada! We even have a sticker to show you it’s authentic!”. Why are they advertising for Lazada and boosting their popularity instead of trumpeting their own website and their own deals, without even having to mention authenticity because that’s a given?
Why should they do that? Why should they, or any brand for that matter, take to a platform where authenticity of product is questionable, to boast about their authenticity, if you buy at a higher price. Why don’t they just concentrate on their own website, or perhaps, if they’re lazy, leverage on more reputable platforms?
Lazada is where I’d go to buy a cheap gadget that I expect to fall apart after 2 uses, and am pleasantly surprised when it does not. It is where I’d go to buy a random item that does not cost very much money. It is not where I’d drop more than RM100 at. And Lazada is where I will NEVER EVER pay full price.
I’m sorry Clinique, Origins, Laneige et al, you have totally lost me with your strategy. Is it a millennial thing again? Do they think Lazada is where the millennials hang out? Millennials get a lot of flack, but they are not dumb. Given a choice, I’m quite sure anyone who actually cares about beauty, would buy their beauty products on the official website. Those who would buy from Lazada don’t really care. They are just there to score a deal, and in this instance, Clinique products from the “Official Flagship Store” are not a deal.
The only good thing is, you’d probably get a discount buying on Lazada thanks to the numerous discount codes available. In the long term, I feel it will destroy the brand from a credibility standpoint, once people are used to buying at a discount. But in the short term, perhaps they feel it’ll bring in more sales. It just won’t be from me, and frankly, I’m so disppointed in them. I feel like I’m being insulted by the brand for actually thinking their brand stands for something. But perhaps, this is a clear reflection that I am no longer their target market 🙂
What say you? Have you seen these Official Stores on Lazada and have you bought anything or have been moved to?
Will we start seeing flagship brands like Estee Lauder, La Mer, Lancome or Kiehl’s appear on Lazada in future too? If they do, I’d likely stop using and buying from them altogether!
28 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Personally although i don’t buy beauty stuff on lazada, i view it as a positive. I think authenticity is a big thing which is questionable on lazada but i think it is a plus point for them (for lazada) to head in the right direction by engaging with the official suppliers. Eventually (hopefully) this will eliminate all these fake suppliers as why should you need to buy from them when there are original suppliers on the same platform, also with official price for better comparison and possibly offering a better price point.
I think logistics is a big issue in Msia and probably one of the reasons why Amazon has yet to come to Msia. So probably one of the reasons these brands are outsourcing to lazada-probably they have a better way of managing this somehow.
Paris B says
Hey Irene, thanks for sharing a counterpoint thought! 😀 Appreciate it. The problem for me, is the impression that Lazada gives. No big brand that I know has an official presence on Amazon, and even there, you can find questionable products. Instead, what they have done is built up a strong enough presence outside of the platform, that encourages people to shop there, rather than on platforms like these. That is what I feel is the problem here. When you put yourself on a platform and allow yourself to rub shoulders with questionable products, you stop standing out, and instead lend an air of credibility to the other products (since there is a basis for comparison) and to the platform. The official prices are significantly higher. I also found out that MAC is also using Lazada, so it looks like a group decision, and that puts me off greatly. Logistics in Malaysia isn’t so much an issue, as I feel, poor planning on the part of sellers. They want to capitalize on online shopping but don’t want to spend money developing a proper environment. For me, the choice of Lazada isn’t the best choice simply because I feel the platform is too confused and confusing. But that is my personal impression of them. I know it is a very popular shopping platform, and not everyone will think the same as me. But it just seems odd to have a presence both on Sephora and on Lazada – for me, it just looks confused. Again though, that’s just me 😀
I agree with you, I think Hermo or Sephora is a better bet. And Hermo also started a few flagship stores for many brands like Shu, Maybelline etc. Some premium brands maintained their prices there too.
Paris B says
Hey Reese, I didn’t know about Hermo, so I went to look! You know what? I find it odd that some brands like Benefit and The Body Shop would maintain “official stores” on so many different platforms. Kind of watering themselves down I feel, especially when in the case of TBS they too have their own site that often has quite good deals. I am less critical of the more mass brands, because they are mass with mass appeal after all. But I’d like to think that a premium brand (or one that proclaims to be premium with premium prices should maintain a certain level of exclusivity) That said, I have nothing to say about Hermo, because by hosting the official store, they only sell that one brand. They don’t have other sellers jostling for position alongside, selling the same product. That I feel, makes the difference between having a store presence on Hermo or Sephora, and on Lazada. The latter is truly a pasar malam! LOL!
Margaret Cheong says
I am the scrooge type who would check every discount code available for Lazada before buying anything form them because I would feel cheated if I left out any offers that I could maximise the bargain. Having saying this, I never shop at Lazada often because it can be tiring to search high and low for the exclusive code and monitor the prices during sales. I can’t be possibly doing these unless I have too much time to spare.
As for cosmetics, I prefer buying them at the brick and mortar store without having first had a look, swatch or sniff them. I love it the sales lady would throw in a lot of deluxe samples. Often I am in for a gamble with online shopping, I worried if the parcel got lost in the mail or someone in the office took it away because I would not be at home to receive them. So no matter what platform is the brand in, it doesn’t makes a difference for me. Clinique, after all is an affordable brand and they are vying for younger, online savvy consumers now and perhaps too it is their way to tone down their local online store presence before closing it.
Paris B says
If closing their online store is the ultimate goal, I think they’d just be shooting themselves in the foot! I’m fine with them having an “official store” but I just feel Lazada is not the place to park a brand like theirs. That said, like you, I think most people do the same when shopping on Lazada. If you don’t use a discount code and maximise that discount, you feel like a fool. And that is what will happen to Clinique eventually I feel. That said, I think,as you’ve demonstrated, this will affect the thinking of those who do shop online as opposed to those who don’t. I enjoy the online convenience, but I also realise that I don’t buy many brands with a local presence. If I can get them locally in store, I do. Screw the delayed gratification LOL 😀
Hello, long time lurker, first time caller and millenial here!
Just adding in my two sen of experience: I HATE LAZADA. I’ve shopped using various online sites before like Amazon and Book Depository and they were pretty good despite their issues (I no longer use Amazon out of ethical issues).
My hatred for Lazada occurred due to that one time I decided to buy a Motorola phone through them in 2015 and it turned into a 1 month back and forth saga with their customer service.
To summarise, I bought a smartphone at a 30% discount and accessories from a different seller but due to “no stock”, Lazada abruptly cancelled my phone order, leaving me stranded with a slowly dying phone and brand new phone accessories which arrived in the mail the next day. Curious, I checked their site again and the same seller was still selling the same phone model…AT A 40% DISCOUNT NOW.
Anyways, I was already irate at the salt poured into my wounds so I contacted Lazada customer service to return the accessories but that turned into a literal month-long saga of Customer Service passing my case around amongst themselves, which meant repeating over and over and over again that the phone case was fine but THE PHONE ORDER WAS CANCELLED BY YOU GUYS, I HAVE NO PHONE TO PUT THE CASE ON please tell me your return procedure, ad nauseam. Their customer service at that time was also restricted to office hours which at the time was inconvenient because I was doing shift work at all kinds of hours which meant a lot of odd sleeping hours (this may not be the case now, I actively avoid Lazada unless I have no choice)
tldr: Lazada sellers can screw you over any time they feel like it and Customer Service is super inefficient and blur.
I did however buy a bluetooth headphone through Lazada this year because I couldn’t get it in local stores and that turned out fortunately non-disastrous.
But that’s my two sen of two times buying through Lazada. I doubt I’ll buy any makeup or skincare through them personally, since I’m very sensitive to fragrances.
Paris B says
Hey Cheryl, thank you for sharing your experience shopping at Lazada. What a nightmare! I haven’t experienced the same nightmare, but there’s just something about the website and interface that just does not instil confidence in me. I have read a lot however, about people who have problem with delivery or having to deal with customer service, and that puts me off. I’d buy a cheap item off there, but nothing too fancy.
sales gimmick ah, ask the brands about the traffic and sales that is from their own website vs traffic and sales from Lazada, most probably Lazada generates a much better figure. Sales team can never say no to better sales figure yeah? ?
Paris B says
I guess you are right. It is ultimately all about sales, right? Never mind about the brand standing haha! 😀
Marketing team plays a huge role in this, marketing team will have to run by and approved all promos and stuff before it goes live. These days marketing team are also quite concerned with the sellout (pressure from the top management), so they have no choice but to close 1 eye.
there’s actually a lot of restrictions and criteria that needs to be met before the entire listing/ official store can even go live. Don’t even get me started when the report goes to regional and then global management.
NIGHTMARE i tell you.
Paris B says
Fascinating! Doesn’t warm me up to Lazada, but I can understand now why brands will want to use their platform 😀
Victoria Shanti says
I can really hear your frustration & annoyance in this post. Lol. But I agree with you on the point of its defeats the purpose of having an online flagship store in Malaysia if the brand then goes ahead to sell on Lazada.
Like yourself, I will never buy skincare or makeup from Lazada or 11street because of authenticity issues. Having said that, I have bought a lot of children stuff such as educational toys, bibs & eating utensils from Lazada at a good price which I would not have been able to obtain at children stores or baby fairs in Malaysia.
There was even a recent discussion on my mother’s FB group that the Mamy Poko diapers was cheaper on Lazada compared with the baby fair at Mid Valley that took place from 25-26 November. But it seems the recent issue with Lazada was the delivery service that they use which is usually Poslaju or Gdex have been throwing customers’ parcels on the porch without bothering that the item is fragile. So a lot of customers had been complaining that their items have broken.
Paris B says
LOL Yes, reading back, the frustration definitely comes through 😀 I think Lazada is an interesting platform. More so now that they are partly owned by Alibaba, and sell items from Taobao. But that is also what bugs me. You have all these cheap, gimmicky or tacky things, or maybe random things you never think you need, and then suddenly, a brand claims to be the official store. I can’t reconcile authentic items sitting side by side with questionable items from Taobao that come in from China. There are loads on Lazada! I buy small things like tripods or phone covers, that don’t cost a lot. I don’t kid myself either that they are authentic LOL!
Interestingly, someone told me they buy their MAC through Lazada, so I guess there is an audience? Still, doesn’t sway me LOL!
Admittedly I’ve never purchased anything from Lazada or 11Street but you’re right, it’s not a place I would turn to for skincare or food. I suppose Clinique needed additional online presence because Lazada being the macam-macam shop seems to be quite popular locally. But calling it “flagship” when there is already an official online store is rather strange.
Paris B says
I find it so weird to see Tesco goods or groceries sold there. I’d actually be worried that the Milo I buy might be fake! LOL! Who knows right? 😛 I actually think they picked Lazada because of logistics. Lazada will handle all the shipping for them, so they dont have to bother with it. I do question where and how the products are stored actually, if they send it over to Lazada to stock and despatch. I somehow doubt Lazada would care about the product integrity and if there’s a problem, who do we deal with – Clinique or Lazada? Hm…
If you purchase from brands/ seller on Lazada, any issues you have Lazada will then direct you back to seller/ brand you bought from and deal directly.
Unless the item you purchased is stated that it is fulfilled by Lazada, then you will deal with Lazada directly.
For logistics part, yes Lazada will handle the delivery to end user. For storage, it depends again. If it’s coming directly from sellers/ brands, then they will store the item at seller/ brand’s own warehouse. Again, unless stated it is fulfilled by Lazada, then the item is normally store at Lazada’s warehouse for speedier shipment.
The next we meet I can share more on the behind the scene, if you like 😀
Paris B says
That’s very interesting Plue. Will definitely be curious to know more, if only for my own satisfaction LOL! Doesn’t stop me being pissed off with Clinique haha! I mean, I can understand them wanting to leverage on Lazada’s logistics. It does say that the products are fulfilled by Lazada, which means Lazada stores them right? Still, not that it matters I guess, whether I buy from them or I don’t LOL! 😀
Yes, most probably stored by Lazada. Since Clinique is a big brand, they may be able to make Lazada conform to their standards of storing the items.
Brands now all want shortcut and cut down cost ahahaha
Paris B says
Ahahaha I doubt they can ask them to conform to anything! But I agree with you about the shortcuts. Not a good thing IMO
You know what, you’re right about Lazada. If you want to buy anything from Lazada, please wait for discount. Or go online and look for codes! XD
Honestly, Lazada wasn’t really the best place to buy beauty products because their control towards authenticity and counterfeiting are pretty bad. I am referring towards Lazada MY. Whereas Lazada SG have A LOT of beauty brands! They even have MAC onboard now and the MAC Xmas collection sold out on retails that everyone had to buy from Lazada. I guess brands now have to justified within getting own headcount for their own website and riding on Lazada traffic conversion. It’s just a stepping stone for the brands to at least let people know that they are available online. 😀 If you don’t mentioned, honestly i don’t know that we Clinique have their own e-store.
Paris B says
Exactly about Lazada and discounts! You’d really be a fool not to make use of all those discounts LOL! I don’t know how Lazada is elsewhere, but I’m totally with you about their poor controls. That said, from what I can tell, the MY version now has a lot of brands with them now too, including MAC and Origins, I think. So this tells me that the EL group is using this platform, perhaps not just in MY but also in Singapore. Personally speaking, I won’t be using it. But then who knows. Maybe these brands will give Lazada the legitimacy it so needs 😛
Although I have not bought any beauty products from Lazada before, but the idea of having “official stores” on this type of online platform is not unfamiliar to me. I used to stay and work in Seoul many years back, and I do get many of my korean beauty products from Gmarket, especially during winter because I’m too lazy to leave the house to shop lol, where they have a lot of “official flagship stores” and with very good deals (and the shipping is VERY fast, sometimes I ordered the items during midnight, and I will received the items around 4pm the same day). I guess in a way, it is good that Lazada is getting the official stores to be on board, rather than having just individual sellers selling products that they claimed are authentic.
Paris B says
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jo 🙂 I’d heard a lot about buying from Gmarket, when Korean beauty was at its height, but I’d never tried to myself, because I found it so confusing! I guess opening an “official store” on that platform offers the brand an opportunity to leverage on traffic, customer base and to pass on the logistics to someone else to handle. I don’t know if Gmarket has authenticity concerns, but unfortunately Lazada does, and they don’t screen out sellers I believe. I’m guessing this benefits Lazada in the end, because they gain an image of legitimacy. For the brand, I’m not sure it does the brand good to perpetually be on discount, because Lazada has a lot of discount codes going all the time! Good for the consumer, ultimately bad for the brand image 😀
Yup, I’ve trust issues with Lazada. I do shop on Lazada but definitely not for my skincare needs. By engaging official suppliers, perhaps Lazada is trying to clean up their image. But by the same token, they need to weed out those shady sellers too. Otherwise, they can only rely on these official suppliers to legitimise the products found on their platform. They would never be able to build their own branding. Once these official suppliers go off their platform, they’re back to square one.
Paris B says
Personally speaking, I don’t think the official suppliers will run off anywhere soon. I’ve been speaking to some of them, and it seems that they are doing well on the Lazada platform, and it allows them to outsource their shipping and logistics problems. I’m guessing it’s a win-win situation for now. But I do agree that it is up to Lazada to start banning the unofficial suppliers of the same brand. Otherwise, how can they maintain any credibility?
Goodness me!!! I am quite shocked by the snobbery displayed here!! Lazada are simply a marketplace for goods. If you are a busy person it is much easier to go to just one place to deal with all your shopping needs. The discounts you mention could make a big difference to some people as not everyone has deep pockets. This an eye watering display of 1st world problems when there are much bigger things to worry about.
Also people are not stupid, they know that if they are paying Al tenth of the price for something it is not real. Clinique are a company who want to get their goods out to as many people as possible. Why should they not use Lazada?
Paris B says
HI Kate, you are absolutely right, and my views today on this have changed since 2017, when I felt that brands were not putting in the hard work to build up their own website as opposed to going the route of e-commerce portals, which at that time, weren’t the slicker, more reliable portals of today. Since, I have come to understand better how it works, and this view no longer holds valid. I will include a disclaimer. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.