When I recently heard about a new startup called Little Black Bag, the first thought to cross my mind was “here comes another flash sales site.” It turns out I was wrong (sort of).
If you visit Japan right before New Year’s Day, you’ll find piles of sealed paper bags stacked in front of stores. It is a holiday shopping concept called “fukubukuro” or “lucky bag sale.” Shoppers (mostly women) buy these mystery bags, which tend to be stuffed with fashion accessories, and trade their contents with friends.
My friend Mayumi and I took part in this gimmick two years ago in Osaka. We both came away with some costume jewelry. Needless to say, the element of surprise was the best part.
Borrowing from the mystery bag concept, Little Black Bag has shoppers fill out a style quiz before offering a virtual bag of products such as jewelry and purses. Shoppers can then trade the items with other users online. Once you’re happy with your bag, the company ships its contents to you. The items are from brands like Zac Posen, BCBGeneration, Betsey Johnson, & Kenneth Jay Lane.
There are two ways to play: you either purchase a monthly plan for about $50 to receive a monthly grab bag or use the site once for $60.
With its white background and blown up product images, the site has a Pinterest feel to it. Compared to other e-commerce sites, however, Little Black Bag puts an interesting spin on social commerce and gaming features. “The decision of whether to send or accept a trade offer encourages creativity – it’s like a game,” said co-founder Dan Murillo in a statement.
Marketers can also use the site to test new products. Last month, for example, L’Oréal USA’s Redken brand participated in a social sampling program. Every user received one of 11 different Redken samples, which they were encouraged to trade, post, and tweet about, resulting in more than one million social media impressions, according to the company.
The LA-based company is the brainchild of Murillo, a former VC and Microsoft executive, and former Microsoft engineer Sasha Siddhartha. According to Murillo, the site generates more than 10 million monthly brand impressions across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube and is currently enabling more than one million trades per month.
The company today announced an $8 million Series B funding round led by GRP Partners, with participation from DCM. Its total funding is currently $10.75 million.