In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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The Totes stores on Tmall and Amazon are just part of Totes-Isotoner’s strategy for entering Asia. It also sells on Japan’s leading e-commerce marketplace, Rakuten Ichiba, No. 2 in the Asia 500, and has placed its products in some 750 bricks-and-mortar stores. Those stores are mostly in Japan, but also include key department stores and specialty shops in major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The company has also entered South Korea, mostly via the web, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. This year the company plans to bring its products to the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with Taiwan on the list for 2014, Ranieri says.
Also part of the Asia strategy has been the creation of a regional e-commerce site, Totes.Asia, where visitors can find background on the company and its brands and locate stores selling Totes-Isotoner products, but not buy, at least for now. The site is currently in English and Japanese, with plans to add simplified Chinese for mainland China, Korean and traditional Chinese (the written language used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.) “While we don’t expect the kind of volume we will get from local partners like Rakuten and Tmall,” Ranieri says, “we think it will be important to give consumers confidence in the brand and to tell our brand story cleanly and clearly.”