Catching Up With AlmaShopping: Funding, Market Consolidation & Organic Growth

AlmaShopping is poised to become a leading e-commerce platform for beauty and cosmetics in Latin America.

Part of Alma Cosmetics, which is also behind NXTP-accelerated AlmaBox, AlmaShopping boasts a catalog of over 4,000 products from top brands, including Carolina Herrera, Dior and Roc. The company was founded by Ignacio Molins, Priscilla Maciel, Santiago Lorente and Rita Almela, AlmaShopping is active in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.

We at PulsoSocial have been following AlmaShopping for a while now. We first introduced our readers to the startup in October of last year, and we also followed AlmaBox’s journey with NXTP Labs. We were most recently in contact with the company in February, when it announced the acquisition of Mexico-based Ploombox.

With Latin America’s e-commerce industry expected to grow over 11 times over in the 10-year period from 2005 to 2015, AlmaShopping is tapping into a market with limitless potential. More than 10 million internet users buy online right now in Argentina alone.

We caught up with Priscilla Maciel, the Director of Alma Cosmetics, to find out what the company’s got going on now.

Emily Stewart: The last time we were in touch, you had just acquired Ploombox to take on the Mexican market. How are things going with that?

Priscilla Maciel: Mexico is a market with a lot of potential but also with certain technical limitations and cultural differences that must be understood. For example, avenues of payment are poor, and credit card penetration is weak, meaning that people prefer paying in cash. That said, having a local partner to help us understand the market is key.

ES: What other markets are you working in right now? What’s on the horizon?

PM: We’re currently evaluating different alternatives for the development of the business. It is important to open new markets, but we also need to consolidate the existing markets in which we’re already present.

In the short term, I don’t think we’ll have any big news regarding new markets but instead with respect to the opening of newlines of business. Our online platform allows us to offer a series of complementary products, and we are focusing our energies on that.

ES: In taking on other locales in Latin America, what has been the most challenging thing to do? How have you managed?

PM: What has been most valuable in becoming part of the ecosystem with other local entrepreneurs is talent searching, strategic alignment, cultural fit and expectations management. The first point is perhaps most important – we need people who really stand out and have the commercial vision and energy necessary to learn and execute. In the startup world, work varies each and every day, and one is confronted with completely new problems.

ES: You recently raised a Series A round of funding. What details can you reveal about that?

PM: This first round of funding has helped us to lay the foundations of our business. Right now, we’re working on the systems, organization and processes required to render the business scalable.

Our business model is based on organic growth. In that sense, and as opposed to other finance-based e-commerce models, the tools we use to back the business up are more important than investments in communications.

ES: What do you have on deck for 2013?

PM: We’ll be concentrating purely on executing the work we’ve been developing over the past few months. We’ll have some exciting announcements in store, but for the time being, they’ll have to remain a surprise!