April 29, 2013, 10:43 AM

A Chinese e-retailer seeks to go public in the U.S.

LightInTheBox sells online primarily to consumers in Europe and the U.S.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Lead Photo

A Chinese retailer that sells directly to consumers in Europe and the U.S. exclusively via the web is seeking to raise $86.25 million through an initial public offering of stock in the U.S.

LightInTheBox Holding Co. Ltd., which is based in Beijing, says in its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it generated $200 million in sales in 2012, mostly of apparel, electronics and small accessories and gadgets. The company operates such web sites as lightinthebox.com, which sells dresses and general merchandise, and miniinthebox.com, which sells cell phone cases, watches, video games and similar items. The company says it operates web sites around the world in 17 languages.

LightInTheBox says in its filing that it has strong growth prospects. “We believe that there are increasing opportunities for China-based companies to participate in global online retailing ,” the filing says. “They enjoy access to a large, low-cost export-oriented manufacturing base, global payment and logistics solutions and globally scalable online marketing. In addition, declining trade barriers have contributed significantly to the expansion of world trade.” The filing quotes a study from Chinese market research firm iResearch that projects online direct-to-consumer sales of Chinese goods will grow from $1.7 billion worldwide in 2012 to $9.0 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 75.8%.

The retailer says its core categories “generally require design specificity, thus giving us more pricing flexibility and allowing us to capture higher margin potentials.” It cites as an example made-to-order dresses for occasions like weddings and proms. The company said it listed 205,000 products on its e-commerce sites as of Dec. 31, 2012, and added more than 17,000 new product listings each month in 2012.

LightInTheBox.com, No. 238 in the Top 400 Europe guide, sold $101.4 million online in Europe in 2012, representing 50.7% of sales. North American sales totaled $48.0 million, 24.0% of sales; Latin America $12.9 million, 6.4% of sales, and other countries $37.7 million, or 18.9% of sales.

The company said 40.2% of 2012 sales were of apparel, 21.0% of electronics and communication devices, 20.3% accessories and gadgets, 11.2% home and garden products, and 7.3% other items.

The company reported a reported a net loss of $4.2 million in 2012.

LightInTheBox was founded in 2007 and began selling online in 2008. The chairman and CEO is Quji “Alan” Guo.

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