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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 20-F

 

(Mark One)

 

o

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

OR

 

 

x

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014                 

 

 

OR

 

 

o

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

OR

 

 

o

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

For the transition period from                       to                        

 

Commission file number 001-35942

 

LightInTheBox Holding Co., Ltd.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

Tower 2, Area D, Diantong Square

No. 7 Jiuxianqiao North Road

Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015

People’s Republic of China

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

Quji (Alan) Guo, Chief Executive Officer

Telephone: +(86-10) 5692-0099

Facsimile: +(86-10) 5908-0270
Tower 2, Area D , Diantong Square

No. 7 Jiuxianqiao North Road

Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015

People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Ordinary Shares, par value $0.000067 per share

 

New York Stock Exchange

American Depositary Shares, each representing
two Ordinary Shares

 

 

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 



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Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:

 

96,617,349 Ordinary Shares

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

o Yes   x No

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

o Yes   x No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).

o Yes   x No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of “accelerated filer and large accelerated filer” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer o

 

Accelerated filer o

 

Non-accelerated filer x

 

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP x

 

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board
o

 

Other o

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

o Item 17   o Item 18

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).

o Yes   x No

 

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.

 

o Yes   o No

 



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Page

 

 

 

PART I

 

1

 

 

 

Item 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

1

Item 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

1

Item 3.

Key information

1

Item 4.

Information on the Company

37

Item 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

65

Item 5.

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

65

Item 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

83

Item 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

91

Item 8.

Financial Information

93

Item 9.

The Offer and Listing

94

Item 10.

Additional Information

95

Item 11.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

103

Item 12.

Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities

104

 

 

 

PART II

 

106

 

 

 

Item 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

106

Item 14.

Material modifications to the rights of security holders and use of proceeds

106

Item 15.

Controls and Procedures

106

Item 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

107

Item 16B.

Code of Ethics

107

Item 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

107

Item 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Ccommittees

108

Item 16E.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

108

Item 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

109

Item 16G.

Corporate Governance

109

Item 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

109

 

 

 

PART III

 

109

 

 

 

Item 17.

Financial Statements

109

Item 18.

Financial Statements

109

Item 19.

Exhibits

110

 

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CONVENTIONS THAT APPLY TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

 

Unless where the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report on Form 20-F to:

 

·                  “ADRs” are to the American depositary receipts, which, if issued, evidence the ADSs;

 

·                  “ADSs” are to the American depositary shares, each of which represents two ordinary shares;

 

·                  “China” and the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Taiwan and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau;

 

·                  “shares” or “ordinary shares” are to our ordinary shares, par value $0.000067 per share;

 

·                  “North America” are to, for the purposes of this annual report only, the United States and Canada;

 

·                  “Our number of customers” are to the number of customer accounts that have purchased at least once from our company during the relevant period;

 

·                  “repeat customers” are to customers who have purchased products from us more than once since our inception;

 

·                  “RMB” and “Renminbi” are to the legal currency of China;

 

·                  “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to LightInTheBox Holding Co., Ltd., its consolidated subsidiaries and its variable interest entities, or VIEs, Lanting Huitong and Lanting Gaochuang, and Shanghai Ouku, the subsidiary of Lanting Huitong; and

 

·                  “$,” “dollars” and “U.S. dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States.

 

Our reporting and functional currency is the U.S. dollar. In addition, this annual report also contains translations of certain foreign currency amounts into U.S. dollars for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise stated, all translations of Renminbi into U.S. dollars were made at RMB6.2046 to $1.00, the noon buying rate on December 31, 2014 as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board. We make no representation that the Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts referred to in this annual report could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate or at all. On April 10, 2015, the noon buying rate for Renminbi was RMB6.2082 to $1.00.

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report on Form 20-F contains statements of a forward-looking nature. All statements other than statements of historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made under the “safe harbor” provision under Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In some cases, these forward-looking statements can be identified by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “potential,” “continue,” “is/are likely to” or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements relate to, among others:

 

·                  our growth strategies;

 

·                  our future business development, results of operations and financial condition;

 

·                  trends in online consumer retailing;

 

·                  trends in Chinese manufacturing;

 

·                  expected changes in our revenues and certain cost and expense items; and

 

·                  assumptions underlying or related to any of the foregoing.

 

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We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs.

 

You should read these statements in conjunction with the risks disclosed in “Item 3.D. Risk Factors” of this annual report and other risks outlined in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. Moreover, we operate in an emerging and evolving environment. New risks may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of such risks on our business or the extent to which any risk, or combination of risks, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents that we have referred to in this annual report, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

 

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PART I

 

ITEM 1.                                                IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

 

Not Applicable.

 

ITEM 2.                                                OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

 

Not Applicable.

 

ITEM 3.                                                KEY INFORMATION

 

A.                                    Selected Financial Data.

 

The selected consolidated statements of operations data for 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2013 and 2014 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F. Our selected consolidated statements of operations data for 2010 and 2011 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012 has been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this annual report on Form 20-F. Our audited consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or U.S. GAAP.

 

The following selected consolidated financial data for the periods and as of the dates indicated are qualified by reference to and should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” both of which are included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

Our historical results for any prior period do not necessarily indicate our results to be expected for any future period.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except per share data)

 

Selected Consolidated Statements of Operations Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

 

$

58,694

 

$

116,230

 

$

200,010

 

$

292,417

 

$

382,407

 

Cost of goods sold

 

41,580

 

77,465

 

116,465

 

165,267

 

237,095

 

Gross profit

 

17,114

 

38,765

 

83,545

 

127,150

 

145,312

 

Operating expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulfillment

 

3,517

 

7,124

 

10,088

 

15,963

 

23,926

 

Selling and marketing

 

22,607

 

38,465

 

53,418

 

84,245

 

105,186

 

General and administrative

 

12,347

 

16,660

 

22,369

 

31,929

 

46,916

 

Impairment loss on goodwill and intangible assets

 

 

1,928

 

 

 

 

Loss from operations

 

(21,357

)

(25,412

)

(2,330

)

(4,987

)

(30,716

)

Net loss

 

(21,923

)

(24,531

)

(4,230

)

(4,819

)

(29,987

)

Accretion for Series C convertible redeemable preferred shares

 

700

 

2,800

 

2,971

 

1,621

 

 

Net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders

 

(22,623

)

(27,331

)

(7,201

)

(6,440

)

(29,987

)

Net loss per ordinary share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

(0.62

)

(0.76

)

(0.20

)

(0.09

)

(0.30

)

Diluted

 

(0.62

)

(0.76

)

(0.20

)

(0.09

)

(0.30

)

 

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Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands)

 

Other Consolidated Financial Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gross Margin (1)

 

29.25

%

33.4

%

41.8

%

43.5

%

38.0

%

 


(1)         Gross margin represents gross profit as a percentage of net revenues.

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands)

 

Summary Consolidated Balance Sheet Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

23,439

 

$

6,786

 

$

19,972

 

$

23,745

 

$

75,358

 

Term deposit

 

 

 

 

79,958

 

5,802

 

Inventories

 

4,931

 

4,965

 

5,753

 

7,081

 

9,845

 

Total current assets

 

34,032

 

17,671

 

37,753

 

121,293

 

99,156

 

Total assets

 

37,184

 

19,640

 

39,838

 

125,891

 

104,467

 

Total current liabilities

 

11,979

 

17,202

 

36,847

 

44,500

 

61,284

 

Total liabilities

 

12,251

 

17,202

 

36,847

 

44,500

 

61,284

 

Total equity (deficit)

 

(10,767

)

(36,062

)

(38,480

)

81,391

 

43,183

 

 

B.                                    Capitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not Applicable.

 

C.                                    Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not Applicable.

 

D.                                    Risk Factors

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

 

Our limited operating history may make our growth and future prospects uncertain and difficult to evaluate.

 

We launched our website, www.lightinthebox.com, in 2007. Our limited operating history may not provide a meaningful basis to evaluate our business. It may be difficult for you to make accurate predictions of our future results of operations and our past results of operations should not be taken as indicative of our future growth. Additionally, we will continue to encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by companies at a similar stage of development, including our potential inability to:

 

·                  implement our business model and strategy and adapt and modify them as needed;

 

·                  increase awareness of our brands, protect our reputation and develop customer loyalty;

 

·                  acquire customers cost-effectively;

 

·                  manage our expanding operations and offerings, including the integration of any future acquisitions;

 

·                  anticipate and adapt to changing conditions in online retail industry globally and in China;

 

·                  anticipate and adapt to changes in government regulations, industry consolidation, technological developments and other significant competitive and market dynamics;

 

·                  manage risks related to intellectual property rights;

 

·                  upgrade our technology or infrastructure to support increased user traffic and product offerings; and

 

·                  manage relationships with a growing number of suppliers and couriers.

 

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The online retail industry is intensely competitive and we may not compete successfully against new and existing competitors, which may materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

The market for products sold on our websites is intensely competitive. Consumers have many choices online and offline, including global, regional and local retailers. For example, our current and potential competitors include global and regional online retailers such as other China-based global online retail companies, retail chains, specialty retailers, and sellers on online marketplaces. In the future, we may also face competition from new entrants, consolidations of existing competitors or companies spun off from our larger competitors.

 

We face a variety of competitive challenges, including sourcing products efficiently, pricing our products competitively, maintaining optimal inventory levels, selling our products effectively, maintaining the quality of our products, anticipating and responding quickly to changing consumer demands and preferences, building our customer base, conducting effective marketing activities and maintaining favorable recognition of our brands, websites and products. In addition, as we further develop our business, we will face increasing challenges to compete for and retain high quality suppliers. If we cannot properly address these challenges, our business and prospects would be materially and adversely affected.

 

Some of our current and potential competitors have significantly more established brands or greater financial, sourcing, marketing, operational or other resources than we do. In addition, other online retailers may be acquired by, receive investments from or enter into strategic relationships with well-established and well-financed companies or investors, which would help enhance their competitive positions. Certain of our competitors may be able to secure more favorable terms with suppliers, devote greater resources to marketing campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing or inventory policies and devote substantially more resources to infrastructure development. Increased competition may reduce our gross and operating margins, market share and brand recognition. We may not be able to compete successfully against current and future competitors, and competitive pressures may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our failure to quickly identify and adapt to changing industry conditions may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The online and offline retail industries are subject to changing consumer preferences and industry conditions. This is particularly true with respect to products such as apparel, small accessories and gadgets and home and garden products. Consequently, we must stay abreast of emerging fashion, lifestyle, design, technological and other industry and consumer trends. This requires timely collection of market feedback, accurate assessments of market trends, deep understanding of industry dynamics and flexible manufacturing capabilities.

 

We must also maintain relationships with suppliers who can adapt to fast-changing consumer preferences. If one or more of our existing suppliers cannot meet these requirements effectively, we will need to source from new suppliers, which may be costly and time-consuming. We or our suppliers may overestimate customer demand, face increased overhead expenditures without a corresponding increase in sales and incur inventory write-downs, which will adversely affect our results of operations.

 

If we cannot offer appealing products on our websites or our mobile applications, our customers may purchase fewer products from us, stop purchasing products from us, visit our websites or our mobile applications less often or stop visiting our websites or our mobile applications all together. Our reputation may also be negatively impacted. If we do not anticipate, identify and respond effectively to consumer preferences or changes in consumer trends at an early stage, we may not be able to generate our desired level of sales. Failure to properly address these challenges may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Any failure to manage our growth or execute our strategies effectively may materially and adversely affect our business and prospects.

 

We are still at a relatively early stage in our development and we anticipate spending significant resources on marketing, technology and other business expenditures to grow. We will need to continue to expand, train, manage and motivate our workforce and manage our relationships with customers, suppliers, wholesalers and third-party service providers. To accommodate our future growth, we plan to implement a variety of new and upgraded operational and financial systems, procedures and controls, including the improvement of our accounting and other internal management systems, although we have not yet entered into any commitments related to such plan. We have experienced a period of rapid growth and expansion that has placed, and will continue to place, a significant strain on our management and resources. If we are not successful in managing our growth or executing our strategies effectively, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

 

As part of our growth strategy, we intend to broaden the range of our product offerings, which will require us to introduce new products, work with different suppliers and address the needs of different kinds of consumers. We may incur significant costs in trying to expand our offerings into these new products, or fail to introduce new products that meet anticipated consumer demand. For example, we launched our own brand of fast fashion apparel for women, Three Seasons / TS, and our own brand of faucets, Sprinkle , but it is currently uncertain whether these brands will be competitive in the marketplace, reach broad consumer acceptance and become profitable in the long run.

 

We have incurred net losses since our inception and experienced negative cash flow from operating activities in the past. We may continue to incur net losses and experience negative cash flow from operating activities and, as a result, we may need to obtain additional capital in the future.

 

We incurred net losses attributable to our ordinary shareholders of $7.2 million, $6.4 million and $30.0 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, and we may continue to incur losses in the future. In addition, although we generated positive cash flow from operating activities of $7.4 million and $15.2 million in 2012 and 2013, respectively, we experienced negative cash flow from operating activities of $6.9 million in 2014 and we may continue to experience negative cash flows in the future. Although we had an accumulated equity of $43.2 million as of December 31, 2014, we historically experienced accumulated deficits and may continue to do so in the future.

 

We expect our costs and expenses, especially our selling and marketing expenses, to increase as we expand our operations. Our ability to achieve and maintain profitability and positive cash flow from operating activities depends on various factors, including but not limited to, the acceptance of our products by consumers, the growth and maintenance of our customer base, our ability to control our costs and expenses and grow our revenues and the effectiveness of our selling and marketing activities. We may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability or positive cash flow from operating activities, and if we achieve positive operating cash flow, it may not be sufficient to satisfy our anticipated capital expenditures and other cash needs. As such, we may not be able to fund our operating expenses and expenditures and may be unable to fulfill our financial obligations as they become due, which may result in voluntary or involuntary dissolution or liquidation proceeding of our Company and a total loss of your investment.

 

We have financed our operations to date primarily with proceeds from the sale of equity securities and convertible notes. As of December 31, 2014, we had approximately $83.4 million in cash and cash equivalents, term deposit and restricted cash. We expect that our existing cash, term deposit and restricted cash will be sufficient to fund our capital requirements for at least the next 12 months. However, we may need to raise additional capital to fund our continued operations. We cannot be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Our failure to obtain sufficient capital or sufficient capital on acceptable terms could significantly harm our business, financial condition and prospects.

 

Products manufactured by our suppliers may be defective or inferior in quality or infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, which may materially and adversely affect our business and our reputation.

 

We source our products from over 5,300 selected active suppliers in China. Some of the products provided by our suppliers may be defective or of inferior quality. Such products may also infringe on the intellectual property rights of third parties. Defective, inferior or infringing products may adversely affect consumer perceptions of our company or the products we sell, which may lead to negative reviews that could harm our reputation. Although we have adopted internal policies and guidelines during our procurement process to make sure our suppliers and products we offer do not infringe on third-party intellectual property rights, we may receive, from time to time, notices claiming that our products have infringed on the intellectual property rights of others. If we determine that products sold on our websites are infringing on intellectual property rights, we will remove them from our websites. We are also involved in several intellectual property rights claims related to certain products sold on our website. Although such claims are insignificant and we expect them to be resolved in the near future, we cannot assure you that future claims will not have a material impact on our business and financial condition.

 

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Irrespective of the validity of such allegations or claims, we may experience lost sales or incur significant costs and efforts in defending against or settling such allegations or claims. If there is a successful claim against us, we may be required to refrain from further sale of the relevant products or pay substantial damages, and we may be unable to recoup our losses from our suppliers. In addition, since our products are sold to customers in many different countries and regions, we are subject to numerous different legal regimes governing mandatory product standards, intellectual property and tort. Such regimes may impose burdensome legal obligations, which may increase the costs and complexity of compliance. Regardless of whether we successfully defend against such claims, our reputation could be severely damaged. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may have difficulties managing our marketing efforts and may face increased competition in our marketing efforts, which could materially and adversely affect our business and growth prospects.

 

We may have difficulty managing our marketing efforts as our business expands. Currently, we actively manage millions of keywords in 27 languages and display advertising on over 600,000 publisher sites.  In addition, we actively engage with our users on social networking sites. However, given the rapid changes of Internet advertising, consumer preferences, the development of new forms of Internet marketing and the different forms of social media in each of our target countries and regions, we may have difficulties adapting our marketing techniques quickly and we may not sustain our customer acquisition rates, which may have a material and adverse effect on our business prospects.

 

We are highly dependent on our continuing relationships with our affiliate websites and major search engines around the world. Our advertising publishing partners for our affiliate marketing programs may cease, suspend or change the business terms in which we work with them. Search engines may introduce new products and features or modify their page ranking algorithms, which may make our marketing efforts more challenging and costly, or reduce our web traffic. They may also modify existing features or interfere with our ability to advertise on their platforms or to change the business terms on which we advertise. The occurrence of any such event could materially and adversely affect our ability to acquire new customers and thus negatively impact our business, growth prospects, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, as search engine marketing is based on a bidding system, other online advertisers may outbid us on our chosen advertising keywords, which may cause us to increase our marketing expenses and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We currently derive our revenues from a limited number of product categories and any event that adversely affects the demand for our products in those product categories may harm our growth strategies and business prospects.

 

In 2014, we derived 36.2% and 63.8% of our net revenues from the sale of apparel and other general merchandise, respectively.  A decrease in the demand for any of these product categories could have a material and adverse effect on our business prospects. While we have expanded and diversified our product offerings and revenue sources, sales in new products may not reach a level that would reduce our dependence on our existing product categories. In addition, if we are unable to deliver consistently high quality products in our new products, the number of customers for our products may decline. Our failure to successfully introduce new products may have a material and adverse effect on our business prospects and limit our growth.

 

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Our expansion may lower our profit margins and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have traditionally focused on the sale of apparel and electronics and communication devices and derived a large percentage of our net revenues from such products. We have since expanded our offerings by increasing the number of products in our other general merchandise product category, with a particular focus on small accessories and gadgets and home and garden, as well as beauty and sports and outdoor. We have also introduced new websites which focus on certain specific products, such as our www.miniinthebox.com website for the sale of small accessories and gadgets. This has required improvements to our technology and logistics infrastructure and increased marketing spending. We intend to continue to expand our product offerings and increase the variety and customization options of the products we offer in each of our categories.

 

These new businesses involve risks and challenges different from the sale of our traditional products. The introduction of other products imposes additional complications in logistics, supply chain management and marketing. For example, home and garden products introduced new complications due to shipping heavier and more fragile products. Furthermore, we may have to deal with customers in demographics that we have previously not targeted. We also face inventory risks and other challenges when addressing changing consumer demands and preferences. We may introduce new products, which may increase the risks of inventory write-downs and financing costs. As a result, we may not be able to compete successfully in these new markets, our costs may increase and our revenues and profit margins may decrease, all of which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may not be able to successfully adopt new technologies or adapt our websites and systems to consumer requirements or emerging industry standards, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The Internet and the online retail industry are characterized by rapid technological evolution. Changes in user and consumer preferences and the emergence of new industry standards and practices may render our existing proprietary technologies and systems obsolete. To remain competitive, we must enhance our technology infrastructure and adapt to the evolving online retail landscape. Not only do we need to constantly improve our user experience through personal computers, but we also need to enhance our user experience through mobile phones, handheld tablets or other devices. As new platforms and new devices are continually being released, it is difficult to predict the problems we may encounter to reach customers. If we are unable to adapt to changing market conditions or customer requirements in a cost-effective and timely manner, whether for technical, financial or other reasons, our business prospects, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected.

 

We use third-party couriers to deliver our products and their failure to provide high quality delivery services or our failure to effectively manage our relationships with them may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We use a network of third-party courier companies to deliver parcels to consumers in over 200 countries and territories. Interruptions to or failures in these third parties’ shipping services could prevent the timely or successful delivery of our products. These interruptions may be due to unforeseen events such as inclement weather, natural disasters, import or export restrictions, or labor unrest, which may be beyond our control or the control of these third-party couriers. For example, our distribution network is sensitive to fluctuation in oil prices, which may result in increased shipping costs from third- party courier companies, which may, in turn, increase the prices of our products and render our products less competitive.

 

If we do not deliver products in a timely manner or deliver damaged products, our customers may refuse to accept our products and become less confident in us. Many of our bestselling products, such as apparel, may be especially sensitive to delivery delays given that they are often purchased in anticipation of a specific date. Other products, such as electronics and fast fashion apparel for women, have a limited shelf-life and become quickly outdated. Certain products may not be delivered through certain couriers or may not be delivered to certain countries or regions. As a result, certain products may not be deliverable to certain customers or they may not be deliverable at a sufficiently low cost. Our third-party couriers may also offer us less favorable terms, which may increase our shipping cost and materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. We may not be able to promptly and successfully deliver our products to consumers, which may result in the loss of their business and a material and adverse effect on our financial condition and reputation.

 

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Our websites or product offerings may not receive positive market recognition and wide acceptance, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, negative publicity, including negative Internet and blog postings from anonymous sources, about our company, our business, our management or our products could have a material adverse effect on our business, our reputation and the trading price of our ADSs.

 

Maintaining and enhancing the level of customer visits to and volume of customer purchases on our websites is critical to our ability to compete effectively. We intend to enhance the recognition of our websites and product offerings by expending significant time and resources on marketing and customer relations. However, we may not be able to achieve our goals in a short period of time and our marketing efforts may not achieve expected results.

 

Such efforts may also be jeopardized if we fail to maintain high product quality, fulfill orders for popular items, maintain and enhance high customer experience, provide high quality customer services, or offer efficient and reliable delivery. In addition, any negative publicity or disputes regarding our products, company, management or affiliated individuals or other online retailers in China may also materially and adversely affect our websites or branded products. For example, certain products sold on our websites were the subject of intellectual property right disputes, we have had difficulties receiving customer orders due to disruptions to the fiber optic cable connections out of China and there have been certain negative online reviews of our company, our websites and some of the products we sell. Furthermore, if our customer service representatives fail to satisfy the individual needs of customers, our reputation and customer loyalty could be negatively affected and we may lose potential or existing customers and experience a decrease in sales. Failure to successfully promote and maintain positive consumer experience and awareness of our websites, damage to our reputation or brands or loss of consumer confidence could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Factors important to maintaining and increasing the sales volumes of goods purchased from our websites include:

 

·                  our ability to maintain a convenient and reliable user experience as consumer preferences evolve and as we expand into new products and new business lines;

 

·                  our ability to increase repeat purchases by customers;

 

·                  our ability to provide high quality customer services;

 

·                  our ability to offer products of sufficient quality at competitive prices;

 

·                  our ability to manage new and existing technologies and sales channels;

 

·                  our ability to increase website awareness among existing and potential consumers through various means of marketing and promotional activities;

 

·                  our ability to assure our customers of the security of our websites for online purchases; and

 

·                  the efficiency, reliability and service quality of our logistics and payment service providers.

 

Any failure to properly manage these factors could negatively impact our websites. Such failures may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

In addition, we have from time to time received negative publicity, including negative Internet and blog postings from anonymous sources, and anonymous allegations about our company, our business, our management and our products. We cannot assure you that we will not receive similar negative publicity, negative Internet or blog postings or anonymous allegations in the future. Any such negative publicity, negative Internet or blog postings or anonymous allegations, regardless of veracity, may have a material adverse effect on our business, our reputation and the trading price of our ADSs.

 

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Failure to protect confidential information of our customers and our network against security breaches could damage our reputation and substantially harm our business and results of operations.

 

A significant challenge to online commerce and communications is the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Currently, product orders and payments for products we offer are made through our websites, except for certain orders and payments related to the sale of our products to customer in China. In addition, some online payments for our products are settled through third-party electronic platforms. In such transactions, maintaining complete security for the transmission of confidential information, such as our customers’ credit card information, personal information and billing addresses, on our websites is essential to maintain consumer confidence. We have no control over the security measures of third-party electronic payment service providers. We also hold certain other private information about our customers, such as their names, addresses, phone numbers and browsing and purchasing records.

 

We may not be able to prevent third parties, such as hackers or criminal organizations, from stealing information provided by our customers to us through our websites. Furthermore, our third- party logistics and payment service providers may accidentally or purposefully disclose information about our customers. We may also accidentally disclose such information due to employee negligence.

 

Significant capital and other resources may be required to protect against security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by such breaches. The methods used by hackers and others engaged in online criminal activities are increasingly sophisticated and constantly evolving. Even if we successfully adapt to and prevent new security breaches, any perception by the public that online commerce and transactions are becoming increasingly unsafe could inhibit the growth of e-commerce and other online services generally, which, in turn, may reduce the number of purchase orders we receive. Any compromise of our security or third-party service providers’ security could materially and adversely affect our reputation, business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We derive our revenues from products that represent discretionary spending and changes in global macroeconomic conditions may decrease the demand for our products and adversely affect our growth strategies and business prospects.

 

Many of our products may be viewed as discretionary items rather than necessities. Consequently, our results of operations tend to be sensitive to changes in macroeconomic conditions that impact consumer discretionary spending. During an economic downturn similar to the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, customers may be less willing to purchase products that we offer. Challenging macroeconomic conditions also impact our customers’ ability to obtain consumer credit. Other factors, including consumer confidence, employment levels, interest rates, tax rates, consumer debt levels and fuel and energy costs, could reduce consumer spending or change consumer purchasing habits.

 

We rely on third-party suppliers for our products and any deterioration in such business relationships or the quality of those products may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We source our products from selected third-party suppliers. Our continued growth will increase our product demands, which will require us to increase our ability to source products of commercial quality on reasonable terms.

 

Our suppliers may:

 

·                  cease selling merchandise to us on terms acceptable to us;

 

·                  fail to deliver goods that meet consumer demands;

 

·                  encounter financial difficulties;

 

·                  terminate our relationships or enter into agreements with our competitors;

 

·                  have economic or business interests or goals that are inconsistent with ours and take actions contrary to our instructions, requests or objectives;

 

·                  be unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations, including their obligations to meet our production deadlines, quality standards and product specifications;

 

·                  fail to expand their production capacities to meet our growing demands;

 

·                  encounter raw material or labor shortages or increases in raw material or labor costs, which may impact our procurement costs; or

 

·                  engage in other activities or employment practices that may harm our reputation.

 

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Furthermore, agreements with our suppliers do not typically establish a fixed price for the purchase of products. As a result, we may be subject to price fluctuations based on changes in our suppliers’ businesses, cost structures or other factors. The occurrence of any of these events, alone or together, may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, suppliers in the coastal areas of eastern and southern China experienced labor shortages in 2010. Although our suppliers were not significantly affected by this event and managed to complete our orders in a timely manner, similar events may happen again in the future and our suppliers and, in turn, we, may be adversely impacted. In addition, our agreements with some of our suppliers do not contain non-compete clauses that would prevent those suppliers from producing similar products for any other third party. Any breakdown in our supplier relationships or our failure to timely resolve disputes with or complaints from our suppliers, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our growth and profitability depend, to a significant extent, on international trade relationships between China and other countries and consumer confidence in Chinese products and any trade restrictions or losses in consumer confidence may materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We are a China-based online retail company selling goods to consumers globally. As a result, if our consumers lose confidence in Chinese products or sovereign nations restrict trade with Chinese companies, we may suffer a competitive disadvantage. For example, such countries could support locally produced goods with subsidies, which may render our goods relatively more expensive. In addition, such countries could place quotas or taxes, such as retaliatory tariffs and anti-dumping restrictions, on goods produced in China, which would restrict our ability to export products to such countries. Consumers may also develop the presumption that products made in China are inferior in quality, more likely to be defective or more likely to violate intellectual property rights.

 

Such policies and attitudes could target Chinese companies in general, Chinese companies that export to foreign countries in specific or our company individually. We may not be able to affect the implementation of governmental policies or the prevalence of such biases and such policies and biases may reflect political relationships between the countries in which we conduct our business rather than any action taken by our company. To the extent that we suffer a competitive disadvantage as a result of restrictions in free trade or adverse consumer perceptions, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We plan to expand our warehouses and distribution network. If we are not able to manage such expansion successfully, we may suffer a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We believe our strategically located warehouses and our distribution network are essential to our success. We intend to expand our warehouses and distribution network in China and internationally to accommodate more purchase orders and provide better coverage of our target markets. We cannot assure you that we will be able to lease suitable facilities at commercially acceptable terms in accordance with our expansion plan. In addition, the expansion of our warehouses and distribution network will put pressure on our managerial, financial, operational and other resources, especially for warehouses outside of China. If we are unable to secure new facilities or effectively manage our expanded logistics operations and control increasing costs, our growth potential, results of operations and business could be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, starting from the fourth quarter of 2011, we have entered into arrangements with certain suppliers under which the suppliers store their products at our warehouses. Such products are referred to in this annual report as co-location inventory. We record these products as inventory only when all liabilities and rights of ownership of the products are passed on to us upon the confirmation of orders by our customers. However, we bear the costs and expenses incurred related to the storage of co-location inventory in our warehouses, which increases our costs and expenses and reduces our profit and the warehousing spaces available for our own inventory. In addition, we are responsible for loss of and damages to such products in certain circumstances prior to the confirmation of orders by our customers, such as in the event of theft, but are not responsible for any loss of and damages to such products as a result of a force majeure event.

 

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Increases in labor costs or restrictions in the supply of labor in China may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We source our products primarily from third-party suppliers in China. With the rapid development of the Chinese economy, the cost of labor has risen and may continue to rise. Our results of operations will be materially and adversely affected if the labor costs of our suppliers increase. In addition, even if labor costs do not increase, we and our suppliers may not be able to find a sufficient number of workers to produce the products we offer.

 

Furthermore, pursuant to the new PRC labor contract law that became effective in 2008 and was amended on December 28, 2012, employers in China are subject to stricter requirements when signing labor contracts, paying remuneration, determining the term of employees’ probation and unilaterally terminating labor contracts. The new labor contract law and related regulations impose greater liabilities on employers and may significantly increase the costs of workforce reductions. If we or our suppliers decide to significantly change or reduce our workforces, the new labor contract law could adversely affect our ability to make such changes in a timely, favorable and effective manner. Any of these events may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The proper functioning of our information infrastructure is essential to our business and any failure to maintain the satisfactory performance, security and integrity of our information infrastructure may materially and adversely affect our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our net revenues depend on the number of visitors who purchase products on our websites and the volume of orders we fulfill. Telecommunications failures, errors encountered during system upgrades or system expansions, failures related to imbedded social networking functions, computer viruses, attempts to harm our systems, or any inability to maintain, develop and upgrade our existing information infrastructure may damage our hardware and software systems and database, interrupt access to our websites, disrupt our business activities, reveal confidential customer information, slow response times, degrade customer service, increase shipping and handling costs or delay order fulfillment, which may individually or collectively materially and adversely affect our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations. For example, disruptions in the fiber optic cables used to connect computers located in the United States and China rendered us temporarily unable to receive orders placed by customers, which caused delays in our ability to process and deliver products to customers.

 

Our technology infrastructure may not function properly as a result of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise and resulting in unauthorized access to our customers’ data. In addition, our domain names may not point to our IP address correctly due to malfeasance or neglect by our hosting solutions or domain name registries. For example, they may determine that we have violated contractual, civil or criminal duties and, as a result, suspend our domain names. Such errors would render our sites inaccessible for a period of time. Additionally, third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees or consumers into disclosing sensitive information such as user names, passwords or other information in order to gain access to our or our consumers’ data.

 

Even if we are successful in preventing security breaches, any perception by the public that online commercial transactions, or the privacy of user information, are increasingly unsafe or vulnerable to attack could inhibit the growth of online retailers and other online services generally, which, in turn, may have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Taxation risks could materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

We do not collect sales or other taxes on shipments of our goods to most countries in the world except mainland China, Hong Kong and Poland. However, since we are deepening our penetration of geographic markets globally, we may be subject to tax regulations in other geographic markets. In addition, we may become subject to new regulations as regional and national governments may impose new tax laws or revise existing tax laws, especially with regards to Internet sales.

 

Levy of sales taxes may increase the costs of our products to our consumers and reduce our competitive advantage over our competitors that do not collect such sales taxes. The imposition by regional or national governments of various taxes upon Internet commerce could create administrative burdens for us, put us at a competitive disadvantage if they do not impose similar obligations on all of our online competitors and decrease our future sales. A successful assertion by one or more foreign countries that we should collect sales or other taxes on the sale of merchandise or services could result in substantial tax liabilities for past sales, decrease our competitiveness with local retailers, and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we may be required to incorporate corporate entities in different jurisdictions around the world in order to deliver our products to such jurisdictions, which may have uncertain tax implications.

 

Our growth depends on expanding in various geographic markets and such expansion may pose new logistical, operational and marketing challenges that may materially and adversely affect our business prospects.

 

We plan to further increase the sales of our products by deepening our penetration of geographic markets globally. Although our products are sold to customers in over 200 countries and territories, we still have relatively little experience in many countries in the world. It is costly to establish, develop and maintain international operations and websites and promote our brand internationally. The expansion of sales into such geographic markets may not be profitable on a sustained basis for many reasons including, but not limited to:

 

·                  local economic and political conditions;

 

·                  government regulation of online retail, other online services and electronic devices and restrictive governmental actions (such as trade protection measures, including export duties and quotas and custom duties and tariffs), nationalization and restrictions on foreign ownership;

 

·                  restrictions on sales or distribution of certain products or services and uncertainty regarding intellectual property rights and liability for products, services and content on our websites or social marketing channels;

 

·                  business licensing or certification requirements, such as for imports, exports and electronic devices;

 

·                  limited fulfillment and technology infrastructure;

 

·                  laws and regulations regarding consumer protection, import and export requirements, duties, tariffs, other trade-related barriers or restrictions, data protection, privacy, network security, encryption and restrictions on pricing or discounts;

 

·                  lower levels of Internet use;

 

·                  lower levels of consumer spending and fewer growth opportunities compared to our current geographic markets;

 

·                  lower levels of credit card usage and increased payment risk; and

 

·                  difficulty in staffing, developing and managing foreign operations as a result of language and cultural differences.

 

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As we expand the sale of our products to other countries, competition will intensify. Local companies may have a substantial competitive advantage because of their greater understanding of, and focus on, local consumers, as well as their more established local brand names. This may benefit from reduced logistics costs and marketing. We may not be able to hire, train, retain and manage required personnel, which may limit our international growth.

 

As new markets have different business practices and consumer demand may vary significantly by region, our experience in the geographic markets on which we currently focus may not be applicable in other parts of the world. For example, we may need to build infrastructure in foreign countries to remain competitive in such markets. Furthermore, deepening our geographic penetration entails increased complexity for our managers and employees including, but not limited to, difficulties associated with managing a more diverse customer base, the challenges of meeting different regulatory regimes and requirements, partnering with different local logistics providers and other business partners, managing more complex marketing efforts and providing customer support in different languages.

 

We currently derive only a small portion of our sales from customers in China, but we may expand our operations in China in the future. We will encounter new challenges in operations, marketing and logistics. Our ability to operate competitively in international markets may not render us similarly competitive in the market in China. For example, our logistics networks will need to be optimized locally. To the extent that we cannot increase our market share in China, we may incur costs that we may not recover. Even if we are successful in increasing our market share in China, we may suffer from increased competition from other Chinese companies. We may not compete successfully against companies with stronger brands, greater financial resources, greater political support or more attractive terms for their suppliers, managers or employees.

 

In addition, our expansion into China may suffer due to uncertainties and various factors affecting the development of online retail in China. For example, Internet and broadband use and penetration may decline, consumer confidence in online shopping may decrease, the quality of alternative retail channels may increase, sufficiently reliable or secure logistic or payment methods may not be available or the Chinese economy may deteriorate.

 

To the extent that we cannot successfully expand our operations in other geographic markets, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Fluctuations in currency exchange rates may make us less competitive and may make our growth and future prospects uncertain and difficult to evaluate.

 

We are exposed to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. We sell to customers in over 200 countries and territories.  Many of our customers pay for our products in currencies other than U.S. dollars but we report our financial results in U.S. dollars and, as a result, our financial results may be impacted by fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates.  Since January 2014, the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the value of the U.S. dollars against a basket of six major world currencies, has appreciated over 17%.  In particular, Europe represented the largest region to which our products were sold in 2014 and our net revenues generated from Europe increased to 62.5% of our net revenues for the same year. Since January 2014, the U.S. dollars against euros has appreciated over 19%.  If the U.S. dollar continues to appreciate against foreign currencies, our translation of foreign currency denominated transactions will result in lower net revenues, operating expenses and net income. As we are deepening our penetration of geographic markets globally, our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations has increased. We have no hedges against currency risk. Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could significantly impact our financial results, which may result in an impact on our share prices.

 

Our business depends substantially on the continued efforts of our executive officers and our business may be severely disrupted if we lose their services.

 

Our future success depends substantially on the continued efforts of our executive officers. Competition for senior management and other key personnel is intense, and the pool of suitable candidates is very limited. We may not be able to retain the services of our senior executives or other key personnel, or attract and retain senior executives or key personnel in the future. If one or more of our executive officers are unable or unwilling to continue their employment with us, we may not find replacements in a timely manner, or at all, our business may be severely disrupted and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. We may also incur additional expenses to recruit and retain qualified replacements.

 

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If any of our executive officers joins a competitor or forms a competing company, we may lose customers, suppliers, partners and know-how. Each of our executive officers has entered into an employment agreement with us, which contains confidentiality and non-compete provisions. However, if any dispute arises between our executive officers and us, we may not be able to enforce these non-compete provisions in China, where these executive officers reside, in light of uncertainties with China’s legal system.

 

If we are unable to attract, train and retain qualified personnel, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our business is supported and enhanced by a team of highly skilled employees who are critical to maintaining the quality and consistency of our business and reputation. It is important for us to attract qualified employees, especially marketing personnel, designers, supply chain managers, or engineers with high levels of experience in creative design, software development and Internet-related services. Competition for these employees is intense. In order to attract prospective employees and retain current employees, we may have to increase our employee compensation by a larger amount and at a faster pace than expected, which would increase our operating expenses. In addition, we must hire and train qualified employees in a timely manner to keep pace with our rapid growth while maintaining the quality of our operations in various geographic locations.

 

We must also provide continuous training to our employees so that they have up-to-date knowledge of various aspects of our operations and can meet our demand for high quality services. If we fail to do so, the quality of our services may deteriorate in one or more of the markets where we operate, which may cause a negative perception of our brand and adversely affect our business. Finally, disputes between us and our employees may arise from time to time and if we are not able to properly handle our relationship with our employees, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

 

Certain existing shareholders have substantial influence over our company and their interests may not be aligned with the interests of our other shareholders.

 

As of April 10, 2015, certain of our directors and/or executive officers, Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang, collectively owned an aggregate of 21.1% of our outstanding shares. In addition, in matters as to change of control, each of Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang is entitled to three votes per share, resulting in 44.6% of voting rights in such matters. As a result, they have substantial influence over our business, including significant corporate actions such as mergers, consolidations, sales of all or substantially all of our assets and election of directors.

 

They may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of the ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders, including holders of our ADSs. In addition, the significant concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of the ADSs due to investors’ perception that conflicts of interest may exist or arise. For more information regarding our principal shareholders and their affiliated entities, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—A. Major Shareholders.”

 

Our branding efforts for our products may be costly and may not obtain positive market recognition which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have launched our own branded product lines, which require more research, design and marketing costs than our private label products. These costs may not be recovered from sufficient sales of these branded products. These brands may not receive or maintain positive market recognition. Furthermore, it may take time and additional expenditures before we realize that our branding efforts have been unsuccessful. As a result of these efforts to develop branded products, we may incur costs without corresponding increases in revenues which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Our results of operations are subject to quarterly fluctuations due to a number of factors that could adversely affect our business and the trading price of the ADSs.

 

We experience seasonality in our business, reflecting seasonal fluctuations in online and offline retail patterns in general and for our products. For example, sales may be higher in the fourth quarter of a calendar year due to the Christmas holidays. Our product mix may experience quarterly shifts which may cause our margins to fluctuate from quarter to quarter.

 

Due to the foregoing factors, our operating results in one or more future quarters may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In such event, the trading price of the ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may not be able to prevent unauthorized use of our intellectual property, which could harm our business and competitive position.

 

We regard our trademarks, service marks, domain names, trade secrets, proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property critical to our success and we currently rely on a mix of trademark law, trade secret protection and confidentiality and license agreements with our employees, suppliers, partners and others to protect our proprietary rights. Our trademarks and service marks may be invalidated, circumvented or challenged. Trade secrets are difficult to protect and our trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become known or be independently discovered by competitors. Confidentiality agreements may be breached and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach.

 

It is often difficult to create and enforce intellectual property rights in China. Even where adequate laws exist in China, it may not be possible to obtain swift and equitable enforcement of such laws, or to obtain enforcement of a court judgment or an arbitration award delivered in another jurisdiction and, accordingly, we may not be able to effectively protect our intellectual property rights or enforce agreements in China. Preventing any unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly and the steps we have taken may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of our technologies.

 

We are subject to payment-related risks which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our customers may choose from a wide range of payment methods. As we offer new payment options to our customers, we may be subject to additional regulations, compliance requirements and fraud.

 

We rely on third parties, such as PayPal and Global Collect, to provide certain payment processing services, including the processing of credit card and debit card transactions. Our business may be disrupted if these companies become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. We are also subject to payment card association operating rules, certification requirements and rules governing electronic funds transfers, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. If we fail to comply with these rules or requirements, we may be subject to fines and higher transaction fees and lose our ability to accept credit and debit card payments from our customers, process electronic funds transfers, or facilitate other types of online payments and our business and operating results could be adversely affected.

 

Under current credit card practices, we are liable for fraudulent credit card transactions because we do not require a cardholder’s signature. We do not currently carry insurance against this risk. Although we have only experienced minimal losses from credit card fraud, we face the risk of significant losses from this type of fraud as our net sales increase and as we expand internationally. Our failure to adequately control fraudulent credit card transactions could damage our reputation and brand and substantially harm our business and results of operations. Additionally, for certain payment transactions, including credit and debit cards, we pay interchange and other fees. These fees may increase over time, which would raise our operating costs and lower our operating margins.

 

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Our business is subject to the laws of various jurisdictions, many of which are unsettled and still developing and could subject us to claims or otherwise harm our business.

 

We are subject to a variety of laws in various jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, China, the United States and other countries, including laws regarding data retention, privacy and consumer protection, that are continuously evolving and developing. The scope and interpretation of the laws that are or may be applicable to us are often uncertain and may be conflicting. For example, laws relating to the liability of providers of online services for activities of their users and other third parties are currently being tested by a number of claims, including actions based on invasion of privacy and other torts, unfair competition, copyright and trademark infringement and other theories based on the nature and content of the materials searched, the advertisements posted, or the content provided by users. In addition, regulatory authorities around the world are considering a number of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning data protection and other matters that may be applicable to our business. It is also likely that as our business grows and evolves and our solutions are used in a greater number of countries, we will become subject to laws and regulations in additional jurisdictions. It is difficult to predict how existing laws will be applied to our business and the new laws to which we may become subject.

 

If we are not able to comply with these laws or regulations or if we become liable under these laws or regulations, we could be directly harmed and we may be forced to implement new measures to reduce our exposure to this liability. This may require us to expend substantial resources or to discontinue certain solutions. In addition, the increased attention focused upon liability issues as a result of lawsuits and legislative proposals could harm our reputation or otherwise impact the growth of our business. Any costs incurred as a result of this potential liability could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We do not have any business liability, disruption or litigation insurance and any business disruption or litigation we experience might result in our incurring substantial costs and diversion of resources.

 

As the insurance industry in China is still in an early stage of development, insurance companies in China currently offer limited business insurance products. We have determined that the difficulties associated with acquiring product liability or business interruption insurance coverage in China on commercially reasonable terms make it impractical for us to have such insurance. As such, we currently only have limited insurance covering certain of our warehouses. Any product liability claims or business disruption, natural disaster could result in our incurring substantial costs and diversion of resources, which would have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud and investor confidence in our company and the market price of the ADSs may be adversely affected.

 

In preparing our consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2014 included in our annual report on Form 20-F for 2014, we identified certain control deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. We have taken a variety of measures to address these control deficiencies. With these measures over the identified deficiencies, we concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2014. See also “Item 15. Controls and Procedures—Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting.” We cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to implement an effective system of internal control, or that we will not identify material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the future.

 

As a public company in the United States, we are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting beginning with our annual report on Form 20-F following the date on which we cease to qualify as an emerging growth company, which may be up to five full fiscal years following the date of our initial public offering in June 2013. Even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm, after conducting its own independent testing, may issue a report that is qualified if it is not satisfied with our internal controls or the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed, or if it interprets the relevant requirements differently from us. As a public company, our reporting obligations may place a significant strain on our management, operational and financial resources and systems for the foreseeable future. See also “Item 15. Controls and Procedures—Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting.”

 

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In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If we fail to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations, and lead to a decline in the trading price of our ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions.

 

As an “emerging growth company,” we will not be required to have auditor attestation of the effectiveness of our internal controls.

 

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we intend to take advantage of certain exemptions from various requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies including, most significantly, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for so long as we are an emerging growth company, which may be for as long as five years following our initial public offering in June 2013 . As a result of our current status as an emerging growth company, our investors may not have access to certain information that they may deem important.

 

The JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company need not comply with any new or revised financial accounting standard until such date that a non-reporting company is required to comply with such new or revised accounting standard. However, we have elected to “opt out” of this provision and, as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards as required when they are adopted for public companies. This decision to opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act is irrevocable.

 

We may engage in acquisitions that may present integration challenges, disrupt our business and lower our operating results and the value of your investment.

 

As part of our business strategy, we regularly evaluate investments in, or acquisitions of, complementary businesses, joint ventures, services and technologies. For example, in May 2010, Lanting Huitong acquired Shanghai Ouku, which operates www.ouku.com, for $2.2 million (RMB14.3 million). In addition, we acquired the fashion focused site business from Ador, Inc. in December 2013.  In February 2015, we made a minority investments in Shantou Demon Network Technology Co., Ltd., which owns an online website that specialized in cross-border packages tracking, for $2.1 million (RMB12.9 million). Acquisitions and investments involve numerous risks, including:

 

·                  potential failure to achieve the expected benefits of the combination or acquisition;

 

·                  difficulties in and the cost of integrating operations, technologies, services and personnel; and

 

·                  potential write-offs of acquired assets or investments.

 

Furthermore, as a result of Lanting Huitong’s acquisition of Shanghai Ouku, we have recorded goodwill as well as certain acquired intangibles. Such goodwill and intangible assets are tested for impairment by us. In 2011, we recorded an impairment loss on goodwill and intangible assets of $1.9 million.

 

In addition, if we finance acquisitions by issuing equity or convertible debt securities, our existing shareholders may be diluted, which could affect the market price of the ADSs. Further, if we fail to properly evaluate and execute acquisitions or investments, our business and prospects may be seriously harmed and the value of your investment may decline.

 

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Furthermore, we may fail to identify or secure suitable acquisition opportunities or our competitors may capitalize on such opportunities before we do, which could impair our ability to compete with our competitors and adversely affect our growth prospects and results of operations.

 

Any catastrophe, including outbreaks of health pandemics and other extraordinary events, could severely disrupt our business operations.

 

Our operations are vulnerable to interruption and damage from natural and other types of catastrophes, including earthquakes, fire, floods, hail, windstorms, severe winter weather (including snow, freezing water, ice storms and blizzards), environmental accidents, power loss, communications failures, explosions, man-made events such as terrorist attacks and similar events. Due to their nature, we cannot predict the incidence, timing and severity of catastrophes. In March 2011, Japan was struck by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake. In May 2008 and April 2013, Sichuan Province in southwest China experienced severe earthquakes. Although the Japan earthquake together with the resulting tsunami and the Sichuan Province earthquakes did not materially affect our business, other occurrences of natural disasters, as well as accidents and incidents of adverse weather in or around our warehouses, sourcing offices or suppliers may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. We may also be particularly vulnerable to catastrophes in Europe and North America, where most of our customers are located. In addition, the recent uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula may also have an adverse impact on our business operations.

 

Changing climate conditions, primarily rising global temperatures, may be increasing, or may in the future increase, the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes. If any such catastrophe or extraordinary event occurs in the future, our ability to operate our business could be seriously impaired. Such events could make it difficult or impossible for us to deliver our services and products to our consumers and could decrease demand for our products. Because we only have limited insurance covering certain of our warehouses and do not maintain insurance for all of our properties, significant time could be required to resume our operations and our financial position and operating results could be materially and adversely affected in the event of any major catastrophic event.

 

In addition, our business could be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of influenza A (H1N1), commonly referred to as “swine flu,” avian influenza, including H7N9, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola virus disease or other pandemics. Any occurrence of these pandemic diseases or other adverse public health developments in China or elsewhere could severely disrupt our staffing or the staffing of our suppliers and couriers and otherwise reduce the activity levels of our work force and the work force of our suppliers and couriers, causing a material and adverse effect on our business operations.

 

Failure to renew the lease of our existing premises or to renew such leases at acceptable terms could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

All of our offices and warehouses are presently located on leased premises. At the end of each lease term, we may not be able to negotiate an extension of the lease and may therefore be forced to move to a different location, or the rent we pay may increase significantly. This could disrupt our operations and adversely affect our profitability. A number of our leases will expire in the near future and are subject to renewal at market prices, which could result in a substantial increase in the rent at the time of renewal. We compete with other businesses for premises at certain locations or of desirable sizes and some landlords may have entered into long-term leases with our competitors for such premises. We may not be able to obtain new leases at desirable locations or renew our existing leases on acceptable terms or at all, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

We rely on certain individuals to register at and receive funds from some of our supplemental online outlets.

 

In addition to the sale of our products through our websites, we also sell through outlets on other high traffic online marketplace platforms. In addition to such supplemental online outlets registered under our company name, some of our employees have also registered for online outlets in their own name to sell our products and hold the title to these online outlets on the marketplace platforms and in certain cases, their associated bank accounts. We enter into contractual relationships with such employees to obligate them to transfer to us payments corresponding to amounts they receive from customers for the sale of our products on these supplemental online outlets. Prior to our receipt of such payments, we classify cash held in such account in our prepaid expenses and other current assets. If such employees choose not to perform under their contractual obligations with us, we may incur costs to recover such payments and we may not be able to recover these cash balances.

 

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We are exempted from certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

We are exempted from certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange by virtue of being a foreign private issuer. We are required to provide a brief description of the significant differences between our corporate governance practices and the corporate governance practices required to be followed by U.S. domestic companies under the New York Stock Exchange. The standards applicable to us are considerably different than the standards applied to U.S. domestic issuers. For instance, we are not required to:

 

·                  have a majority of the board be independent (other than due to the requirements for the audit committee under the Exchange Act);

 

·                  have a minimum of three members in our audit committee;

 

·                  have a compensation committee, a nominating or corporate governance committee;

 

·                  have regularly scheduled executive sessions with only independent directors;

 

·                  have executive session of solely independent directors each year; or

 

·                  adopt and disclose a code of business conduct and ethics for directors, officers and employees.

 

We have relied on and intend to continue to rely on some of these exemptions. As a result, you may not be provided with the benefits of certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable, final scope, interpretation and implementation of the draft PRC Foreign Investment Law recently published for public comments, including how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.

 

The PRC Ministry of Commerce published a discussion draft of the proposed Foreign Investment Law in January 2015 aiming to, upon its enactment, replace the trio of existing laws regulating foreign investment in China, namely, the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations. The draft Foreign Investment Law embodies an expected PRC regulatory trend to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic investments. The Ministry of Commerce is currently soliciting comments on this draft and substantial uncertainties exist with respect to its enactment timetable, final scope, interpretation and implementation. The draft Foreign Investment Law, if enacted as proposed, may materially impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations in several ways.

 

Among other things, the draft Foreign Investment Law expands the definition of foreign investment and introduces the principle of “actual control” in determining whether a company is considered a foreign-invested enterprise, or FIE. The draft Foreign Investment Law specifically provides that entities established in China but “controlled” by foreign investors will be treated as FIEs, whereas an entity set up in a foreign jurisdiction would nonetheless be, upon market entry clearance by the Ministry of Commerce, treated as a PRC domestic investor provided that the entity is “controlled” by PRC entities and/or citizens. In this connection, “control” is broadly defined in the draft law to cover the following summarized categories: (i) holding 50% of more of the voting rights of the subject entity; (ii) holding less than 50% of the voting rights of the subject entity but having the power to secure at least 50% of the seats on the board or other equivalent decision making bodies, or having the voting power to materially influence the board, the shareholders’ meeting or other equivalent decision making bodies; or (iii) having the power to exert decisive influence, via contractual or trust arrangements, over the subject entity’s operations, financial matters or other key aspects of business operations. Once an entity is determined to be an FIE, it will be subject to the foreign investment restrictions or prohibitions set forth in a “negative list,” to be separately issued by the State Counsel at a later time, if the FIE is engaged in an industry included on the negative list. Unless the underlying business of the FIE falls within the negative list, which calls for market entry clearance by the Ministry of Commerce, prior approval from the government authorities as mandated by the existing foreign investment legal regime would no longer be required for establishment of the FIE.

 

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The VIE structure has been adopted by many PRC-based companies, including us, to obtain necessary licenses and permits in industries that are currently subject to foreign investment restrictions in China. See “—We conduct certain aspects of our businesses in China through our VIEs by means of contractual arrangements.  If the PRC government determines that these contractual arrangements do not comply with applicable regulations, our business could be materially and adversely affected.” and “Item 4. Information on the CompanyC. Organizational Structure.” Under the draft Foreign Investment Law, VIEs that are controlled via contractual arrangements would also be deemed FIEs, if they are ultimately “controlled” by foreign investors. Therefore, for any companies with a VIE structure in an industry category that is on the “negative list,” the VIE structure may be deemed legitimate only if the ultimate controlling person(s) is/are of PRC nationality (either PRC companies or PRC citizens). Conversely, if the actual controlling person(s) is/are of foreign nationalities, then the variable interest entities will be treated as FIEs and any operation in the industry category on the “negative list” without market entry clearance may be considered illegal. There are uncertainties as to whether the Foreign Investment Law, once it is enacted, will have retrospective effect on existing VIE structures such as ours, or whether it will grant real and full grandfathering and grace periods for such existing VIE structures.

 

The draft Foreign Investment Law has not taken a position on what actions will be taken with respect to existing companies with a VIE structure, whether or not these companies are controlled by Chinese parties, and the Ministry of Commerce is soliciting comments from the public on this point. Moreover, it is uncertain whether the internet industry, in which our VIEs operate, will be subject to the foreign investment restrictions or prohibitions set forth in the “negative list” to be issued. The value-added telecommunications services (e-commerce) that we conduct through our VIEs are no longer subject to foreign investment restrictions as set forth in the Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment Industries issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce in March 2015, or the Catalogue. It is unclear whether the new “negative list” will be different from the Catalogue. If the enacted version of the Foreign Investment Law and the final “negative list” mandate further actions, such as Ministry of Commerce market entry clearance or certain restructuring of our corporate structure and operations, to be completed by companies with existing VIE structure like us, we face substantial uncertainties as to whether these actions can be timely completed, or at all, and our business and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

 

The draft Foreign Investment Law, if enacted as proposed, may also materially impact our corporate governance practice and increase our compliance costs. For instance, the draft Foreign Investment Law imposes stringent ad hoc and periodic information reporting requirements on foreign investors and the applicable FIEs. Aside from investment implementation report and investment amendment report that are required at each investment and alteration of investment specifics, an annual report is mandatory, and large foreign investors meeting certain criteria are required to report on a quarterly basis. Any company found to be non-compliant with these information reporting obligations may potentially be subject to fines and/or administrative or criminal liabilities, and the persons directly responsible may be subject to criminal liabilities.

 

We conduct certain aspects of our businesses in China through our VIEs by means of contractual arrangements. If the PRC government determines that these contractual arrangements do not comply with applicable regulations, our business could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We conduct the operation of our domestic websites through Lanting Huitong and its subsidiary, Shanghai Ouku, and conduct certain research and development functions through Lanting Gaochuang. We receive substantially all of the economic benefits of Lanting Huitong and Lanting Gaochuang as their primary beneficiary through contractual arrangements with them and their shareholders. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.”

 

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Although we believe we comply and will continue to comply with current PRC regulations, the PRC government may not agree that these contractual arrangements comply with PRC licensing, registration or other regulatory requirements, with existing requirements or policies or with requirements or policies that may be adopted in the future, particularly with regards to Lanting Huitong as a key operator of our domestic websites. If the PRC government determines that we are not in compliance with applicable laws, it may revoke our business and operating licenses, require us to discontinue or restrict our operations, restrict our right to collect revenues, block our websites, require us to restructure our operations, impose additional conditions with which we may not be able to comply, impose restrictions on our business operations or on our customers, or take other regulatory or enforcement actions against us that could be harmful to our business.

 

We rely on contractual arrangements with Lanting Huitong and its shareholders for the operation of our domestic websites in China and contractual arrangements with Lanting Gaochuang and its shareholders for certain research and development functions, which may not be as effective as direct ownership. If Lanting Huitong and its shareholders or Lanting Gaochuang and its shareholders fail to perform their obligations under these contractual arrangements, we may have to resort to litigation or arbitration to enforce our rights, which may be time-consuming, unpredictable, expensive and damaging to our operations and reputation.

 

We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with Lanting Huitong to operate our domestic websites and contractual arrangements with Lanting Gaochuang to perform certain research and development functions. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” These contractual arrangements provide us with effective control over these entities and allow us to obtain economic benefits from them. Although we have been advised by our PRC counsel, TransAsia Lawyers, that these contractual arrangements are in compliance with current PRC laws, these contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing control as direct ownership.  For example, Lanting Huitong and its shareholders could breach their contractual arrangements with us by failing to operate our online retail business in an acceptable manner or taking other actions that are detrimental to our interests. In addition, if the shareholders of Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang refuse to transfer their equity interests in Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang to us or our designee when we exercise our call option pursuant to these contractual arrangements, we may have to take legal actions to compel them to perform their contractual obligations.

 

If we were the controlling shareholder of our VIEs with direct ownership, we would be able to exercise our rights as shareholders, rather than our rights under the powers of attorney, to effect changes to their boards of directors, which in turn could implement changes at the management and operational level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, as a legal matter, if our VIEs or their respective shareholders fail to perform their obligations under these contractual arrangements, we may incur substantial costs to enforce such arrangements and rely on legal remedies under PRC law, which may not be sufficient or effective.

 

All of these contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in the PRC. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC law and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. The legal system in the PRC is not as developed as in other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Under PRC law, rulings by arbitrators are final, parties cannot appeal the arbitration results in court and the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would incur additional expenses and delay. If we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our VIEs and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected.

 

If we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant delay or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, our business and operations in China could be disrupted, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and damage our reputation. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the Chinese legal system could adversely affect us.”

 

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The shareholders of Lanting Huitong and Lanting Gaochuang have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may adversely affect our business.

 

Certain directors and/or executive officers of our company, Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang, who collectively owned 21.1% of the shares of our company as of April 10, 2015, are also the shareholders of Lanting Huitong. Mr. Guo also holds 51.0% of Lanting Gaochuang.  Thus, conflicts of interest between their duties to our company and their interests as the controlling shareholders of Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang may arise. They may not act entirely in our interests when conflicts of interest arise and conflicts of interest may not be resolved in our favor. In addition, Mr. Guo, Mr. Wen and Mr. Zhang could violate their non-competition or employment agreements with us or their legal duties by diverting business opportunities from us. If we are unable to resolve any such conflicts, or if we suffer significant delays or other obstacles as a result of such conflicts, our business and operations could be severely disrupted, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and reputation. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the Chinese legal system could adversely affect us.”

 

We may lose the ability to use and enjoy assets held by Lanting Huitong and its subsidiary or assets held by Lanting Gaochuang that are important to the operations of our business if such entity goes bankrupt or becomes subject to a dissolution or liquidation proceeding.

 

Lanting Huitong and its subsidiary, Shanghai Ouku, manage www.ouku.com and other websites targeting consumers in China. Lanting Gaochuang performs certain research and development functions. Both hold certain assets and perform certain functions that are important to the operations of our business. If Lanting Huitong, Shanghai Ouku or Lanting Gaochuang goes bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business activities, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If Lanting Huitong, Shanghai Ouku or Lanting Gaochuang undergoes a voluntary or involuntary dissolution or liquidation proceeding, third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of these assets, thereby hindering our ability to operate our business in the PRC, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

If Lanting Huitong, Shanghai Ouku or Lanting Gaochuang fail to obtain and maintain the requisite assets, licenses and approvals required under the complex regulatory environment for Internet-based businesses in China, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

The Internet industry in China is highly regulated by the PRC government and numerous regulatory authorities of the central PRC government are empowered to issue and implement regulations governing various aspects of the Internet industry. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation”. Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku, due to their operation of our domestic websites, are required to obtain and maintain certain assets relevant to their business as well as applicable licenses and approvals from different regulatory authorities in order to provide their current services. These assets and licenses are essential to our business operations in China and are generally subject to annual review by the relevant governmental authorities. Furthermore, Lanting Huitong, Shanghai Ouku or Lanting Gaochuang may be required to obtain additional licenses other than those currently in place. If they fail to obtain or maintain any of the requisite assets, licenses or approvals, their continued business operations in the Internet industry may subject them to various penalties, such as confiscation of illegal net revenues, fines and the discontinuation or restriction of their operations. Any such disruption in the business operations of Lanting Huitong, Shanghai Ouku or Lanting Gaochuang may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Contractual arrangements with Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang may result in adverse tax consequences.

 

Under PRC laws and regulations, an arrangement or transaction among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities within ten years after the taxable year when the arrangement or transaction takes place. If this occurs, the PRC tax authorities could request that Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang adjust their taxable income in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment for PRC tax purposes if contractual arrangements among related parties do not represent arm’s length prices. Such a pricing adjustment could adversely affect us by increasing Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang’s tax expenses without reducing our tax expenses, which could subject Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang to late payment fees and other penalties for underpayment of taxes. As a result, our contractual arrangements with Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang may result in adverse tax consequences to us. In 2014, Lanting Huitong generated a net income of $0.5 million from the contractual arrangements with our PRC subsidiary and paid PRC income tax of $0.07 million.  If the PRC tax authorities decide to make transfer pricing adjustments on Lanting Huitong’s net income in the future, our results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, if Lanting Huitong or Lanting Gaochuang generate net income from transactions with our PRC subsidiary under the contractual arrangements in the future and the PRC tax authorities decide to make transfer pricing adjustments on their net incomes, our consolidated net income may be adversely affected.

 

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Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

We may be adversely affected by the uncertainties and changes in the PRC regulations and policies of cross- border business activities.

 

We are a China-based global online retailer. The PRC government extensively regulates the Internet industry and cross-border business activities. While the PRC government has been encouraging the export industry, such policy may change in the future. Currently laws and regulations relating to online retail, including export online retail, are still evolving and the interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations are subject to significant uncertainties. As a result, in certain circumstances, it may be difficult to determine what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws or regulations. Issues, risks and uncertainties relating to PRC regulation of export online retail include, but are not limited to:

 

·                  how our online retail activities are subject to the laws and regulations pertaining to traditional cross-border transactions or international trade, especially those related to customs declarations, statutory inspections, couriers and commodities export payments; and

 

·                  new regulations, or new interpretations of existing regulations, requiring additional licenses, declarations or inspections for our products.

 

The varying interpretations and applications of existing PRC laws, regulations and policies, along with possible new laws, regulations or policies relating to cross-border online retail, create substantial uncertainty regarding the licenses, customs declarations and inspections that may be required for our products. We cannot guarantee that all of the licenses, customs clearances and/or approvals for commodity inspections currently required, or in the future may be required, will be obtained.

 

For example, we work with third-party couriers to ship and export merchandise purchased by our customers around the world as articles or product samples on a parcel-by-parcel basis in accordance with procedures applicable to articles or product samples. This differs from the customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for traditional large-scale export shipments. Despite that the current PRC regulatory regime as to customs declaration and inspection have been formulated, interpreted and enforced primarily with the intention, and based on the experiences of, regulating traditional large-scale exports, such regulatory regime could technically be interpreted as applicable to the shipment of merchandise on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

 

If the relevant PRC governmental authorities determine that we or our sourcing agents, suppliers or third-party couriers do not comply with the applicable laws and regulations, they could:

 

·                  require us, or our sourcing agents, suppliers or third-party couriers, to restructure business operations, including a possible change to our current method and manner of contracting with such sourcing agents, suppliers or third-party couriers, or require us or third-party couriers to go through customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for the merchandise sold to our customer under our business arrangements in accordance with procedures for goods rather than for articles;

 

·                  impose fines or confiscate income from our PRC subsidiary or the operations of the affiliates of our sourcing agents, suppliers or third-party couriers that are subject to PRC jurisdiction; and

 

·                  impose additional conditions or requirements with which we may not be able to comply or take other regulatory or enforcement actions against us.

 

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Substantial uncertainties and restrictions exist with respect to the interpretation and application of PRC laws and regulations relating to online commerce and the distribution of Internet content in China. If the PRC government finds that the structure we have adopted for our business operations does not comply with PRC laws and regulations, we could be subject to severe penalties, including the shutting down of our websites.

 

Foreign ownership of Internet-based businesses is subject to significant restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations. The PRC government regulates Internet access, the distribution of online information and the conduct of online commerce through strict business licensing requirements and other regulations. These laws and regulations also include limitations on foreign ownership in PRC companies that provide Internet content distribution services. Specifically, foreign investors are not allowed to own more than 50% of the equity interests in any entity conducting commercial Internet information services. In March 2015, the PRC National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce issued the updated Catalogue, which further relaxed market access restrictions and became effective on April 10, 2015. Among these changes, foreign investors will now be allowed to own up to 100% of the equity interests in an e-commerce business, but there are still uncertainties as to how the Catalogue will be enforced in regards to e-commerce business, especially through the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or the MIIT, which has authority over the internet industry.

 

We are a Cayman Islands company and our PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi, is considered a wholly foreign-owned enterprise. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct the operation of our domestic websites through a series of contractual arrangements among our PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi, our VIE, Lanting Huitong and the shareholders of Lanting Huitong. Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku hold the licenses or have completed the filings that are essential to the operations of our business in China. For a detailed description of these licenses and permits, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation.” We conduct certain research and development functions through Lanting Gaochuang, which we control through similar contractual arrangements. As a result of these contractual arrangements, we exert control over our VIEs and consolidate their operating results in our financial statements under U.S. GAAP. For a detailed description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.”

 

In the opinion of our PRC counsel, TransAsia Lawyers, our current ownership structure, the ownership structure of our PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi and our VIEs, the contractual arrangements among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs and the shareholders of our VIEs and our business operations, as described in this annual report, are in compliance with existing PRC laws, rules and regulations. There are, however, substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current or future PRC laws and regulations, especially with regards to Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku as operators of our domestic websites. The M&A Rules, the recently promulgated related regulations under the M&A Rules and, in particular, the national security review rules issued by the Ministry of Commerce, or the MOFCOM, on August 25, 2011 and effective as of September 1, 2011 create additional uncertainties for our business. The national security review rules broadens the reach of MOFCOM in the context of a merger or acquisition by a foreign investor of a domestic entity involved in an industry related to national security, of attempting to bypass national security review of the transaction by structuring it through a proxy or contractual control arrangement. Accordingly, PRC government authorities may ultimately take a view contrary to the opinion of our PRC counsel.

 

Regulation and censorship of information distribution over the Internet in China may adversely affect our business and we may be liable for information displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our websites.

 

China has enacted laws and regulations governing Internet access and the distribution of products, services, news, information, audio-video programs and other content through the Internet. In the past, the PRC government has prohibited the distribution of information through the Internet that it deems to be in violation of PRC laws and regulations. If any of our Internet content were deemed by the PRC government to violate any content restrictions, we would not be able to continue to display such content and could become subject to penalties, including confiscation of income, fines, suspension of business and revocation of required licenses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We may also be subject to potential liability for any unlawful actions of our consumers or users of our websites or for content we distribute that is deemed inappropriate. It may be difficult to determine the type of content that may result in liability to us and if we are found to be liable, we may be prevented from operating our websites in China, which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Changes in China’s political, economic or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.

 

Most of our suppliers and some of our business operations are located in China. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be influenced by political, economic and social conditions in China generally and by continued economic growth in China as a whole.

 

The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the level of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the PRC government has implemented measures since the late 1970s emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China is still owned by the Chinese government. In addition, the PRC government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industry policies. The Chinese government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency- denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. From 2003 to mid-2008, the PRC government implemented a number of measures, such as increasing the deposit reserve ratio requirements for banks and imposing commercial bank lending guidelines, designed to slow the growth of the PRC economy. In response to the global financial crisis, in 2008, the PRC government began instituting policies aimed at expanding credit and stimulating the economy, including an announced RMB4.0 trillion stimulus spending program. More recently, as the PRC economy has shown signs of recovering quickly from the global financial crisis, the PRC government has again begun implementing policies aimed at slowing the PRC economy, including raising interest rates and tightening fiscal expenditures.

 

While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may also have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations. In addition, in the past the PRC government has implemented certain measures, including interest rate increases, to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may increase the costs of business activities for us and our suppliers in China and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

In addition, China’s social and political conditions are not as stable as those of the United States and other developed countries. Any sudden changes in China’s political system, the occurrence of widespread social unrest, or a significant deterioration in its relations with its neighbors could negatively affect the Chinese economy and our business.

 

Uncertainties with respect to the Chinese legal system could adversely affect us.

 

The PRC legal system is based on written statutes. Unlike under common law systems, decided legal cases have little value as precedents in subsequent legal proceedings. In 1979, the PRC government began to promulgate a comprehensive system of laws and regulations governing economic matters in general and forms of foreign investment (including in respect of wholly foreign owned enterprises) in particular. These laws, regulations and legal requirements are relatively new and are often changing, and their interpretation and enforcement depend to a large extent on relevant government policy and involve significant uncertainties that could limit the reliability of the legal protections available to us. We cannot predict the effects of future developments in government policy or the PRC legal system in general. We may be required in the future to procure additional permits, authorizations and approvals for our existing and future operations, which may not be obtainable in a timely fashion or at all, or may involve substantial costs and unforeseen risks. An inability to obtain, or the incurrence of substantial costs in obtaining, such permits, authorizations and approvals may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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We may be adversely affected by the complexity and uncertainties of and changes in PRC regulation of Internet business and related companies.

 

The PRC government extensively regulates the Internet industry, including with respect to foreign ownership of and licensing and permit requirements pertaining to companies in the Internet industry. These Internet-related laws and regulations are relatively new and evolving and their interpretation and enforcement involve significant uncertainties. As a result, in certain circumstances, it may be difficult to determine what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws and regulations. Issues, risks and uncertainties relating to PRC regulation of Internet businesses include, but are not limited to:

 

·                  We have only contractual control over our websites that target consumers in China as compared to legal title over our websites that target consumers outside of China. Due to restrictions on foreign investment in businesses providing value-added telecommunication services in China, including Internet content provision services, we do not own www.ouku.com , www.kuailebox.com and other affiliated websites which target consumers in China. This may significantly disrupt our business, subject us to sanctions, compromise enforceability of related contractual arrangements, or have other harmful effects on us.

 

·                  There are uncertainties relating to the regulation of Internet businesses in China, including evolving licensing practices. This means that permits, licenses or operations at some of our companies may be subject to challenge, or we may fail to obtain permits or licenses that may be deemed necessary for our operations, or we may not be able to obtain or renew certain permits or licenses. For example, according to the Administrative Measures on Internet Electronic Messaging Services, or the BBS Measures, BBS services, which include electronic bulletin boards, electronic forums, message boards and chat rooms, are subject to specific approvals (if the operators provide commercial Internet information services) or filings (if the operators provide non-commercial Internet information services). Shanghai Ouku has not obtained specific filings for BBS services on its websites and governmental authorities may require it to discontinue the BBS services and to rectify the non-compliance. If Shanghai Ouku fails to rectify the non-compliance as required by the governmental authorities, its websites may be shut down.

 

·                  The evolving PRC regulatory system for the Internet industry may lead to the establishment of new regulatory agencies. For example, in May 2011, the State Council announced the establishment of a new department, the State Internet Information Office (with the involvement of the SCIO, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Public Security). The primary role of this new agency is to facilitate policy-making and legislative development in this field to direct and coordinate with the relevant departments in connection with online content administration and to deal with cross-ministry regulatory matters in relation to the Internet industry. Further, new laws, regulations or policies may be promulgated or announced that will regulate Internet activities, including the online video and online advertising businesses. If these new laws, regulations or policies are promulgated, additional licenses may be required for our operations. If our operations do not comply with these new regulations after they become effective, or if we fail to obtain any licenses required under these new laws and regulations, we could be subject to penalties.

 

The interpretation and application of existing PRC laws, regulations and policies and possible new laws, regulations or policies relating to the Internet industry have created substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of existing and future foreign investments in and the businesses and activities of, Internet businesses in China, including our business. We cannot assure you that we have obtained all the permits or licenses required for conducting our business in China or will be able to maintain our existing licenses or obtain any new licenses required under any new laws or regulations. There are also risks that we may be found to violate the existing or future laws and regulations given the uncertainty and complexity of China’s regulation of Internet business.

 

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Fluctuations in the value of the Renminbi may have a material adverse effect on your investment.

 

Most of our revenues are denominated in U.S. dollars while certain expenses are denominated in Renminbi. As a result, there are certain mismatches between our revenues in U.S. dollars and costs denominated in Renminbi. In addition, most of our suppliers are based in China and their operating costs are denominated in Renminbi. If the Renminbi appreciates relative to the U.S. dollar, the cost of our products will become more expensive in U.S. dollar terms, the currency in which we price our products. We have no hedges against currency risk. Consequently, any increase in the value of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar may reduce our margins, reduce our competiveness against retailers who source their products from suppliers with costs denominated in U.S. dollars or other currencies or render us unable to meet our costs.

 

The value of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies may fluctuate and is affected by, among other things, changes in political and economic conditions and the foreign exchange policy adopted by the PRC government. On July 21, 2005, the PRC government changed its policy of pegging the value of the Renminbi to the U.S. dollar. Under the current policy, the Renminbi is permitted to fluctuate within a narrow and managed band against a basket of certain foreign currencies. Following the removal of the U.S. dollar peg, the Renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. During the period between July 2008 and June 2010, the Renminbi has traded stably within a narrow range against the U.S. dollar. Since June 2010, the Renminbi has started to slowly appreciate further against the U.S. dollar, though there have been periods, especially during 2014, when the U.S. dollar has appreciated against the Renminbi as well. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

 

There remains significant international pressure on the PRC government to adopt an even more flexible currency policy, which could result in a further and more significant appreciation of the Renminbi against foreign currencies. Any significant fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar may materially and adversely affect our cash flows, revenues, earnings and financial position and the amount of and any dividends we may pay on the ADSs in U.S. dollars. Any fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar could also result in foreign currency translation losses for financial reporting purposes.

 

PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC domestic residents and registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject our PRC resident beneficial owners or the plan participants to personal liability, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiary, limit our PRC subsidiary’s ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect us.

 

On July 4, 2014, SAFE promulgated the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control of Domestic Residents’ Overseas Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Offshore Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular No. 37, which replaced the former Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for PRC Residents to Engage in Financing and Inbound Investment via Overseas Special Purpose Vehicles (generally known as SAFE Circular No. 75) promulgated by SAFE on October 21, 2005.

 

SAFE Circular No. 37 requires PRC residents to register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct establishment or indirect control of an offshore entity, for the purpose of overseas investment and financing, with such  PRC residents’ legally owned assets or equity interests in domestic enterprises or offshore assets or interests, which is referred to in SAFE Circular No. 37 as a “special purpose vehicle.”  SAFE Circular No. 37 further requires amendment to the registration in the event of any significant changes with respect to the special purpose vehicle, such as an increase or decrease of capital contributed by PRC residents, share transfer or exchange, merger, division or other material events. In the event that a PRC resident holding interests in a special purpose vehicle fails to complete the required SAFE registration, the PRC subsidiaries of that special purpose vehicle may be prohibited from making profit distributions to the offshore parent and from carrying out subsequent cross-border foreign exchange activities and the special purpose vehicle may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital into its PRC subsidiaries. Furthermore, failure to comply with the various SAFE registration requirements described above could result in liability under PRC law for evasion of foreign exchange controls.

 

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We have requested PRC residents that, to our knowledge, hold direct or indirect interest in our company to make the necessary applications, filings and amendments as required under the SAFE regulations. Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang, all of whom are PRC domestic residents and hold interests in our company, have registered with the Shenzhen SAFE branch and are in the process of updating their registrations to reflect the changes to their interests after our initial public offering.

 

We may not be fully informed of the identities of all of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents, we do not have control over our beneficial owners and we cannot provide any assurances that all of our shareholders who are PRC residents will make or obtain any applicable registrations or approvals required by these SAFE regulations. The failure or inability of our PRC resident shareholders and beneficial owners to comply with the registration procedures set forth above may subject us to fines and legal sanctions, restrict our cross-border investment activities or limit our PRC subsidiary’s ability to distribute dividends or obtain foreign-exchange-denominated loans for our company.

 

As it is uncertain how the SAFE regulations will be interpreted or implemented, we cannot predict how these regulations will affect our business operations or future strategy. For example, we may be subject to more stringent review and approval processes with respect to our foreign exchange activities, such as remittance of dividends and foreign-currency-denominated borrowings, which may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, if we decide to acquire a PRC company, we or the owners of such company will be able to obtain the necessary approvals or complete the necessary filings and registrations required by the SAFE regulations. This may restrict our ability to acquire PRC companies and could adversely affect our business and prospects.

 

In December 2006, the People’s Bank of China promulgated the Implementation Rules of the Administrative Measures for Individual Foreign Exchange, or the Individual Foreign Exchange Rules, setting forth the respective requirements for foreign exchange transactions by PRC individuals under either the current account or the capital account. In January 2007, the SAFE issued implementing rules for the Individual Foreign Exchange Rules, which, among other things, specified approval requirements for certain capital account transactions, such as a PRC citizen’s participation in the employee stock ownership plans or stock option plans of an overseas publicly-listed company. On March 28, 2007, the SAFE promulgated the Application Procedure of Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Employee Stock Holding Plan or Stock Option Plan of Overseas-Listed Company, or the Stock Option Rule. In February 2012, the SAFE promulgated the Notice on the Administration of Foreign Exchange Matters for Domestic Individuals Participating in the Stock Incentive Plans of Overseas Listed Companies, or the Stock Option Notice. This Stock Option Notice replaced the previous Stock Option Rules. The Stock Option Notice simplifies the requirements and procedures for the registration of stock incentive plan participants, especially with respect to the required application documents and the absence of strict requirements on offshore and onshore custodian banks that were stipulated in the Stock Option Rules. Under the Stock Option Notice, PRC resident individuals who are granted stock options by an overseas publicly-listed company are required, through a PRC agent or PRC subsidiary of such overseas publicly-listed company, to register with the SAFE and complete certain other procedures. As a public company listed in the United States, we and our PRC employees who have been granted stock options are subject to the Stock Option Notice. If we or our PRC optionees fail to comply with these regulations, we or our PRC optionees may be subject to fines and legal sanctions. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Employee Stock Option Plans.”

 

PRC regulation of loans and direct investment by offshore holding companies to PRC entities may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds of our initial public offering to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiary.

 

In utilizing the proceeds of our initial public offering, as an offshore holding company of our PRC operating subsidiary, we may make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiary. Any loans to our PRC subsidiary, which is a FIE, cannot exceed statutory limits, being the difference between the registered capital and the investment amount of the PRC subsidiary as approved by the MOFCOM or its local branches and must be approved by and registered with the SAFE or its local branches. In addition, our PRC subsidiary is required to pay withholding tax at the rate of 10% (or a maximum of 7% if the interest is paid to a Hong Kong resident) on our behalf on any interest paid under such shareholder loan. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Foreign Currency Exchange—Foreign Exchange Relating to FIEs.”

 

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We may also decide to finance our PRC subsidiary by means of capital contributions. According to the relevant PRC regulations on FIEs in China, depending on the amount of total investment and the nature of the business conducted by the relevant subsidiary, capital contributions to FIEs in China are subject to approval by the MOFCOM or its local branches. We may not obtain these government approvals or registrations on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans and capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiary. If we fail to receive such approvals or registrations, our ability to use the proceeds of our initial public offering and to capitalize our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

On August 29, 2008, the SAFE promulgated the Circular on the Relevant Operating Issues Concerning the Improvement of the Administration of the Payment and Settlement of Foreign Currency Capital of Foreign-Invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 142, regulating the conversion by a FIE of foreign currency registered capital into Renminbi by restricting how the converted Renminbi may be used. SAFE Circular 142 provides that the Renminbi capital converted from foreign currency registered capital of a FIE may only be used for purposes within the business scope approved by the applicable governmental authority and unless otherwise provided by law, such Renminbi capital may not be used for equity investments within the PRC. In addition, the SAFE strengthened its oversight of the flow and use of the Renminbi capital converted  from foreign currency registered capital of a foreign-invested company. The use of such Renminbi capital may not be altered without the SAFE’s approval and such Renminbi capital may not in any case be used to repay Renminbi loans if the proceeds of such loans have not been used. Violations of SAFE Circular 142 could result in severe monetary or other penalties. We expect that if we convert the net proceeds we receive from our initial public offering into Renminbi, our use of Renminbi funds will be for purposes within the approved business scope of our PRC subsidiary in compliance with SAFE Circular 142. However, we may not be able to use such Renminbi funds to make equity investments in the PRC through our PRC subsidiary.

 

Furthermore, the SAFE promulgated the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Exchange Business, or Circular 59, on November 19, 2010, which requires the government to closely examine the authenticity of settlement of net proceeds from offshore offerings and the net proceeds to be settled in the manner described in the offering documents. Circular 142 and Circular 59 may significantly limit our ability to transfer the net proceeds from our initial public offering to Lanting Jishi and our VIEs and convert such net proceeds into Renminbi, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in the PRC.

 

We may be deemed a PRC resident enterprise under the New EIT Law and be subject to PRC taxation on our income.

 

Under the Enterprise Income Tax Law of the PRC, or the New EIT Law, and its implementation rules, both of which became effective on January 1, 2008, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with “de facto management bodies” within the PRC is considered a resident enterprise and will be subject to the enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its global income. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management bodies” as “establishments that carry out substantial and overall management and control over the manufacturing and business operations, personnel, accounting, properties, etc. of an enterprise.” The State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, issued the Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese-Controlled Offshore Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprises on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies, or Circular 82, on April 22, 2009. Circular 82 provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise is located in China. Further to Circular 82, on July 27, 2011, the SAT issued the Administrative Measures of Enterprise Income Tax of Chinese- controlled Offshore Incorporated Resident Enterprises (Trial), or Bulletin No. 45, which took effect on September 1, 2011, to provide more guidance on the implementation of Circular 82. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Tax—PRC Enterprise Income Tax.”

 

According to Circular 82, a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having a “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its worldwide income only if all of the following conditions set forth in Circular 82 are met: (i) the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals and board and shareholder resolutions are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC. In addition, Bulletin No. 45 provides clarification on the resident status determination, post-determination administration and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a PRC resident determination certificate from a resident Chinese-controlled offshore- incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying certain Chinese- sourced income such as dividends, interest and royalties to the PRC-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise.

 

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Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.

 

Although we do not believe that our legal entities organized outside of the PRC constitute PRC resident enterprises or meet all of the conditions above, it is possible that the PRC tax authorities could reach a different conclusion. In such case, we may be considered a resident enterprise and may therefore be subject to enterprise income tax at a rate of 25% on our global income. If we are considered a resident enterprise and earn income other than dividends from our PRC subsidiary, a 25% enterprise income tax on our global income could significantly increase our tax burden and materially and adversely affect our cash flow and profitability.

 

Pursuant to the New EIT Law and its implementation rules, dividends generated after January 1, 2008 and payable by a FIE in China to its foreign investors, which are non-PRC tax resident enterprises without an establishment in China, or whose income has no connection with their institutions and establishments inside China, are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 10%, unless any such foreign investor’s jurisdiction of incorporation has a tax treaty with China that provides for a different withholding arrangement. We are a Cayman Islands holding company and we plan to conduct substantially all of our business in China through Lanting Jishi, which is 100% owned by Light In the Box Limited, our wholly owned subsidiary located in Hong Kong. According to the Mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Arrangements on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, or the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement, dividends that Light In The Box Limited receives from Lanting Jishi may be subject to withholding tax at a rate of 5%, provided that: (a) Light In The Box Limited is determined by the relevant PRC tax authorities to be a “non-resident enterprise” under the New EIT Law; (b) Light In The Box Limited is the beneficial owner of the PRC sourced income; (c) Light In The Box Limited holds at least 25% of the equity interest of Lanting Jishi and (d) all other conditions and requirements under the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement shall be satisfied. Light In The Box Limited has not obtained the approval for a withholding tax rate of 5% from the local tax authority and does not plan to obtain such approval in the near future, as Lanting Jishi has not paid dividends in the past and does not plan to pay dividends in the future as it may continue to incur losses. In addition, as described above, our company or our Hong Kong subsidiary may be considered a PRC resident enterprise for PRC enterprise income tax purposes, in which case dividends received by it, as the case may be, from our PRC subsidiary would be exempt from the PRC withholding tax because such income is exempt under the New EIT Law for a PRC resident enterprise recipient.

 

As uncertainties remain regarding the interpretation and implementation of the New EIT Law and its implementation rules, we cannot assure you that if we are regarded as a PRC resident enterprise, any dividends to be distributed by us to our non-resident enterprise shareholders and ADS holders would not be subject to any PRC withholding tax at a rate of up to 10%. Similarly, any gain recognized by such non-resident enterprise shareholders or ADS holders on the sale of shares or ADSs, as applicable, may also be subject to PRC withholding tax. Furthermore, if we are considered a PRC resident enterprise and the competent PRC tax authorities consider dividends we pay with respect to our shares or ADSs and the gains realized from the transfer of our shares or ADSs to be income derived from sources within the PRC, such dividends and gains earned by non-resident individuals may be subject to PRC individual income tax at a rate of 20%, unless any such non-resident individuals’ jurisdiction has a tax treaty with China that provides for a preferential tax rate or a tax exemption. It is also unclear whether, if we are considered a PRC resident enterprise, holders of our shares or ADSs would be able to claim the benefit of income tax treaties or agreements entered into between China and other countries or areas. If we are required under PRC law to withhold PRC income tax on our dividends payable to our non-PRC shareholders and ADS holders, or the PRC authorities tax gain recognized by such non-PRC  shareholders or ADS holders, such investors’ investment in our ordinary shares or ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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The labor contract law and its implementation regulations may increase our operating expenses and may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

As the PRC Labor Contract Law, or Labor Contract Law, and the Implementation Regulation for the PRC Labor Contract Law, or Implementation Regulation, have been enforced for only a relatively short period of time, substantial uncertainty remains as to its potential impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Labor Laws and Social Insurance.” The implementation of the Labor Contract Law and the Implementation Regulation may increase our operating expenses, in particular our human resources costs and our administrative expenses.

 

In addition, as the interpretation and implementation of these regulations are still evolving, we cannot assure you that our employment practices will at all times be deemed to be in full compliance with the law. In the event that we decide to significantly modify our employment or labor policy or practice, or reduce the number of our sales professionals, the labor contract law may limit our ability to effectuate the modifications or changes in the manner that we believe to be most cost-efficient or otherwise desirable, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we are subject to severe penalties or incur significant liabilities in connection with labor disputes or investigations, our business and results of operations may be adversely affected. In the event that we decide to significantly modify our employment or labor policy or practice, or reduce the number of our sales professionals, the labor contract law may limit our ability to effectuate the modifications or changes in the manner that we believe to be most cost-efficient or otherwise desirable, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

PRC labor-related laws and individual income tax obligations expose us to potential penalty risks.

 

Companies operating in China are generally required to contribute to the mandatory social insurance and housing funds. Lanting Jishi, Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku have not fully contributed to the employee benefit plans as required by applicable PRC regulations. While we believe we have made adequate provisions for any payments due on our audited consolidated financial statements, our prior failure to make payments may constitute a violation of the applicable PRC regulations and, as of December 31, 2014, we were potentially subject to late fees, fines and penalties for up to a maximum of $25.9 million related to employee benefit plans. In addition, we have previously not withheld appropriate amounts of individual income taxes as required by applicable PRC regulations. However, such amounts were substantially paid by us on a voluntary basis in March 2013 to the relevant tax authority. Although as of the date of this annual report, no action has been initiated by the relevant authorities against us, future fines or levies may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Failure to obtain prior approval required under the M&A Rules and/or any other regulations promulgated by relevant PRC regulatory agencies in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations as well as the trading price of the ADSs.

 

On August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, including the Ministry of Commerce, the State- Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the SAT, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, or the SAIC, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and the SAFE, jointly adopted the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules, which came into effect on September 8, 2006 and was amended on June 22, 2009. The M&A Rules, among other things, include provisions that purport to require that an offshore special purpose vehicle formed for the purpose of an overseas listing of a PRC company obtain the approval of the CSRC prior to the listing and trading of such special purpose vehicle’s securities on an overseas stock exchange. On September 21, 2006, the CSRC published on its official website procedures regarding its approval of overseas listings by special purpose vehicles. However, substantial uncertainty remains regarding the scope and applicability of the M&A Rules to offshore special purpose vehicles.

 

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The application of the M&A Rules with respect to our initial public offering and our corporate structure established under contractual arrangements remains unclear. Our PRC counsel, TransAsia Lawyers, has advised us that we were not required to apply to the relevant PRC regulatory agencies, including the CSRC and the Ministry of Commerce, for approval of our initial public offering or our current corporate structure because:

 

·                  the CSRC currently has not issued any definitive rule or interpretation concerning whether international public offerings like ours under our prospectus are subject to this regulation;

 

·                  we established our PRC subsidiary by means of direct investment rather than by merger or acquisition of the equity or assets of PRC domestic companies; and

 

·                  no provision in this regulation clearly classified contractual arrangements as a type of transaction subject to its regulation.

 

However, we cannot assure you that relevant PRC government agencies, including the CSRC, would reach the same conclusion as our PRC counsel. If prior approval is required but not obtained, we may face regulatory actions or other sanctions from the CSRC or other PRC regulatory agencies. These regulatory agencies may impose fines and penalties on our operations in China, limit our operating privileges in China, delay or restrict the repatriation of the proceeds from our initial public offering into China or take other actions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, as well as the trading price of the ADSs. In addition, if the CSRC or other regulatory agencies later promulgate new rules or explanations requiring that we obtain their approvals for our initial public offering, we may be unable to obtain a waiver of such approval requirements, if and when procedures are established to obtain such a waiver. Any uncertainties and/or negative publicity regarding such approval requirement could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of the ADSs.

 

We may rely on dividends and other cash distributions on equity paid by our subsidiaries to fund future cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.

 

We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends and cash distributed by our Hong Kong subsidiary and may, in the future, rely on dividends and cash distributed by our PRC subsidiary through our Hong Kong subsidiary for our cash requirements. However, current PRC regulations permit our PRC subsidiary to pay dividends only out of its accumulated profits, if any, determined in accordance with Chinese accounting standards and regulations. In addition, under applicable PRC laws, rules and regulations, our PRC subsidiary is required to set aside at least 10% of its accumulated after-tax profits each year, if any, to fund certain statutory reserves until the accumulative amount of such reserves reaches 50% of the respective subsidiary’s registered capital. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. Furthermore, if our PRC subsidiary incurs debt on its own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us or our Hong Kong subsidiary. If we or our Hong Kong subsidiary require dividends and cash contributions from our PRC subsidiary in the future, any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiary to distribute dividends or other payments to us or our Hong Kong subsidiary could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our businesses, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business.

 

The audit report included in this annual report is prepared by auditors who are not inspected by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and, as such, you are deprived of the benefits of such inspection.

 

Our independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit reports included in this annual report, as auditors of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), or the PCAOB, is required by the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess its compliance with the laws of the United States and professional standards. Because our auditors are located in the Peoples’ Republic of China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB is currently unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditors are not currently inspected by the PCAOB.

 

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Inspections of other firms that the PCAOB has conducted outside China have identified deficiencies in those firms’ audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. This lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating our auditors’ audits and its quality control procedures. As a result, investors are deprived of the benefits of PCAOB inspections.

 

The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our auditor’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections. Investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and procedures and the quality of our financial statements.

 

If additional remedial measures are imposed on the “big four” PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging the firms’ failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

 

Starting in 2011 the Chinese affiliates of the big four” accounting firms, (including our independent registered public accounting firm) were affected by a conflict between United States and Chinese law.  Specifically, for certain listed companies in the United States operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from these Chinese accounting firms access to their audit work papers and related documents.  These accounting firms were, however, advised and directed that under China law they could not respond directly to the United States regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.

 

In late 2012 the SEC commenced administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act against the Chinese accounting firms (including our independent registered public accounting firm).  In July 2013, the SEC’s internal administrative court issued an adverse judgment against these firms and the administrative law judge’s proposed penalties on the firms included a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC, or the Commissioners.  On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioner had taken place, these firms reached a settlement with the SEC.  Under the settlement, the SEC accepts that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC.  These accounting firms will receive matching Section 106 requests, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production of documents via the CSRC.  If they fail to meet specified criteria, the SEC retains authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on these accounting firms depending on the nature of the failure.  Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic six-month bar on a single firm’s performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against a firm, or in extreme cases the resumption of the current proceeding against all four accounting firms.

 

In the event that the SEC restarts the administrative proceedings, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting.  Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these accounting firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based companies listed in the United States and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

 

If our independent registered public accounting firm were denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of our ordinary shares from the NYSE or deregistration with the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of our ADSs in the United States.

 

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Risks Related to the ADS

 

The market price for the ADSs has fluctuated and may be volatile.

 

The market price for our ADSs has fluctuated since we listed our ADSs. Since our ADSs became listed on the NYSE on June 6, 2013, the trading price of our ADSs have ranged from US$3.87 to US$23.38 per ADS, and the last reported trading price on April 16, 2015 was US$4.86 per ADS. In addition to the volatility in the price of the ADSs which could be caused by the materialization of any of the risks described in this section, the securities markets in the United States, China and elsewhere have from time to time experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to the operating performance of particular companies. These market fluctuations may also materially and adversely affect the market price of our ADSs.

 

The securities of some China-based companies that have listed their securities in the United States have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings in recent years, including, in some cases, substantial declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performances of these companies’ securities after their offerings may affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies listed in the United States in general, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or other matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have engaged in any inappropriate activities. In particular, the global financial crisis and the ensuing economic recessions in many countries have contributed and may continue to contribute to extreme volatility in the global stock markets. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our ADSs. Volatility in our ADS price may also adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, most of whom have been granted options or other equity incentives.

 

Our voting structure limits your ability to influence matters related to change of control and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our common shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

We have one class of ordinary shares, and each holder of our ordinary shares is entitled to one vote per share. However, in matters related to change of control, pursuant to our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, certain founding shareholders, namely Wincore Holdings Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Vitz Holdings Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen, and Clinet Investments Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Liang Zhang, are entitled to three votes per share in matters related to a change of control. As of April 10, 2015, each of Wincore Holdings Limited, Vitz Holdings Limited and Clinet Investments Limited held 10.3%, 6.2% and 4.7% of the shares of our company, respectively, entitling them to 21.7%, 13.0% and 9.9% of voting rights, respectively, and an aggregate of 44.6% of voting rights in such matters related to a change of control. This voting structure could limit your ability to influence matters related to change of control and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that you or other ordinary shareholders may view as beneficial.

 

We may need additional capital, and the sale of additional ADSs or other equity securities or incurrence of additional indebtedness could result in additional dilution to our shareholders or increase our debt service obligations.

 

Historically, we have relied principally on the issuance of our preferred shares, convertible notes and ADRs to fund our operations and capital expansion needs. We may require additional cash resources due to changed business conditions or other future developments, including any investments or acquisitions we may pursue. If our resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to sell additional equity, equity- linked or debt securities or enter into a credit facility. The sale of additional equity securities could result in additional dilution to our shareholders. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations. It is uncertain whether financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all.

 

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Substantial future sales of the ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the price of the ADSs to decline.

 

Additional sales of our ordinary shares in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of the ADSs to decline. As of December 31, 2014, we had 96,617,349 ordinary shares outstanding, including 41,204,330 ordinary shares represented by ADSs. All our ordinary shares represented by ADSs were freely transferable by persons other than our “affiliates” without restriction or additional registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or Securities Act. The remaining ordinary shares will be available for sale subject to volume and other restrictions as applicable under Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act.

 

In addition, certain holders of our ordinary shares have the right to cause us to register the sale of those shares under the Securities Act. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in these shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act immediately upon the effectiveness of the registration. Sales of these registered shares in the public market could cause the price of the ADSs to decline.

 

You may not have the same voting rights as the holders of our ordinary shares and may not receive voting materials in time to be able to exercise your right to vote.

 

Except as described in the deposit agreement, holders of the ADSs are not able to exercise voting rights attaching to the shares evidenced by the ADSs. You have a right to instruct the depositary how to exercise those voting rights. However, the depository or its nominee may not successfully comply with your instructions or intentions. You may not receive voting materials in time to instruct the depositary to vote, and it is possible that you, or persons who hold their ADSs through brokers, dealers or other third parties, will not have the opportunity to exercise a right to vote.

 

You may not be able to participate in rights offerings and may experience dilution of your holdings as a result.

 

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, the depositary will not offer those rights to ADS holders unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, or exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. In addition, we may not be able to take advantage of any exemptions from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, holders of the ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in their holdings as a result.

 

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

 

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deem it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

 

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You may face difficulties in protecting your interests and your ability to protect your rights through the U.S. federal courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law, primarily operate our business from mainland China and Hong Kong and a majority of our officers reside outside the United States.

 

We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands and primarily conduct our operations through our subsidiaries in Hong Kong and mainland China and through our VIEs, Lanting Huitong and its subsidiary, Shanghai Ouku, and Lanting Gaochuang, in China. Most of our directors and officers reside outside the United States and all or a substantial portion of their assets are located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an original action against us or against these individuals in a Cayman Islands or PRC court in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. There is no statutory recognition in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the United States, although the courts of the Cayman Islands will generally recognize and enforce a non-penal judgment of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction without retrial on the merits.

 

Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association and by the Companies Law (2013 Revision) and common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take legal action against our directors and us, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands have a less developed body of securities laws as compared to the United States, and provide significantly less protection to investors. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action before the federal courts of the United States. As a result, your ability to protect your interests if you are harmed in a manner that would otherwise enable you to sue in a United States federal court may be limited to direct shareholder lawsuits.

 

As a result of all of the above, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests through actions against our management, directors or major shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a jurisdiction in the United States.

 

We are an “emerging growth company” and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our ADSs less attractive to investors.

 

We are a “foreign private issuer,” as such term is defined in Rule 405 under the Securities Act, and are not required to comply with certain periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. In addition, we are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2012 for up to five fiscal years after the date of our initial public offering. Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires our independent registered public accounting firm to attest to and report on the effectiveness of the internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting.

 

In addition, Section 107(b) of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 provides that an “emerging growth company” can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an “emerging growth company” can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to take advantage of the extended transition period. Although as of the date of this annual report, we have not delayed the adoption of any accounting standard, as a result of this election, our future financial statements may not be comparable to other public companies that comply with the public company effective dates for these new or revised accounting standards.

 

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We will cease to be an “emerging growth company” upon the earliest of: (i) the last day of the fiscal year during which we have gross revenues of $1 billion or more, (ii) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of our initial public offering, (iii) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during the previous three-year period, or (iv) when we become a “large accelerated filer,” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act.

 

We have incurred increased costs as a result of becoming a public company, and our compliance costs may continue to increase in the future.

 

As a public company, we have incurred significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not have as a private company prior to our initial public offering. In addition, new rules and regulations relating to information disclosure, financial reporting and control and corporate governance, which could be adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange and other regulatory bodies and exchange entities from time to time, could result in a significant increase in legal, accounting and other compliance costs and to make certain corporate activities more time-consuming and costly, which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We have no present plan to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, and you may only rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.

 

Since our inception, we have not declared or paid any dividends on our ordinary shares. Since we intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to operate and expand our business, we have no present plan to pay any dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future.  Therefore, your should not reply on an investment in our ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

 

Any future determination to pay dividends will be made at the sole discretion of our board of directors and may be based on a number of factors, including our future operations and earnings, capital requirements and surplus, general financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors that the board of directors may deem relevant. If we pay any dividends, we will pay the ADS holders to the same extent as holders of our ordinary shares, subject to the terms of the deposit agreement, including the fees and expenses payable thereunder. See “Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities—D. American Depositary Shares.” Accordingly, the return on your investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in our ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in our ADSs.

 

We may become a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, which could result in adverse United States tax consequences to United States investors.

 

Based on the past and projected composition of our income and valuation of our assets, including goodwill, we do not believe that we were a passive foreign investment company (a “PFIC”) for 2014. The determination of whether or not we are a PFIC is made on an annual basis and will depend on the composition of our income and assets from time to time. Specifically, for any taxable year we will be classified as a PFIC for United States federal income tax purposes if either (i) 75% or more of our gross income in that taxable year is passive income or (ii) the average percentage of our assets by value in that taxable year which produce or are held for the production of passive income (which includes cash) is at least 50%. The calculation of the value of our assets will be based, in part, on the quarterly market value of our ordinary shares and ADSs, which is subject to change. Due to the volatility of the market price of our ADSs, we may become a PFIC in the future. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations.”

 

In addition, there is uncertainty as to the treatment of our corporate structure and ownership of our VIEs for United States federal income tax purposes. If it is determined that we do not own the stock of our VIEs for United States federal income tax purposes, we may be treated as a PFIC.

 

If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which you hold the ADSs or ordinary shares, such characterization could result in adverse United States federal income tax consequences to you if you are a United States Holder, as defined under “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations.” For example, if we are or become a PFIC, you may become subject to increased tax liabilities under United States federal income tax laws and regulations, and will become subject to burdensome reporting requirements. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations.” We cannot assure you that we were not a PFIC for 2014 or that we will not be a PFIC for 2015 or any future taxable year. Moreover, the determination of our PFIC status is based on an annual determination that cannot be made until the close of a taxable year, and involves extensive factual investigation, including ascertaining the fair market value of all of our assets on a quarterly basis and the character of each item of income we earn, as discussed under “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations-Passive Foreign Investment Company.” Our United States counsel expresses no opinion with respect to our PFIC status.

 

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Our fourth amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

 

Our fourth amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contains provisions limiting the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, under our fourth amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, on a resolution relating to (a) a merger, amalgamation, consolidation or similar transaction involving our company, (b) the filing of a petition for a scheme of arrangement involving our company, or the giving of consent to such a filing or the co-operation by our company in the making of such filing, and (c) a sale, transfer or other disposition of all or substantially all of the assets of our company, Wincore Holdings Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Vitz Holdings Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen, and Clinet Investments Limited, a British Virgin Islands company wholly owned by Mr. Liang Zhang, are entitled to three votes per share held by them, and the remaining shareholders are entitled to one vote per share held.

 

Furthermore, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, in the form of ADSs or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of the ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

ITEM 4.                                                INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A.                                    History and Development of the Company

 

We were founded in June 2007 by Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen, Mr. Liang Zhang, Mr. Jun Liu and Mr. Chit Jeremy Chau. We operated our business at the time through Light In The Box Limited. In March 2008, we incorporated LightInTheBox Holding Co., Ltd., which, through a corporate restructuring, became our ultimate holding company.

 

We currently conduct our business primarily through the following wholly owned subsidiaries and affiliated entities:

 

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·                  Light In The Box Limited, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in Hong Kong, that primarily engages in product sourcing, marketing and the operation of our websites and the sale of our products targeted towards consumers outside of China. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, we derived 98.0%, 98.4% and 99.7%, respectively, of our consolidated net revenues from Light In The Box Limited;

 

·                  Lightinthebox Trading (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., previously Lanting Jishi Trade (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., or Lanting Jishi, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in the PRC, that primarily engages in providing supplier and warehouse management services for Light In The Box Limited. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, we derived 0.6%, 1.5% and 0.2%, respectively, of our consolidated net revenues from Lanting Jishi;

 

·                  Shenzhen Lanting Huitong Technologies Co. Ltd., or Lanting Huitong, a company incorporated in the PRC by certain of our directors and executive officers which is our consolidated VIE through a series of contractual arrangements. Lanting Huitong primarily engages in technology research and development and support, the operation of certain of our websites in China and the general operations of our business in China;

 

·                  Shanghai Ouku Network Technologies Co., Ltd., or Shanghai Ouku, a PRC incorporated company that was acquired from its then shareholders for $2.2 million (RMB14.3 million) and is wholly owned by Lanting Huitong. Shanghai Ouku primarily engages in the product sourcing, marketing, fulfillment and the operation of our websites targeted towards consumers in China. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, we derived an aggregate of 1.4%, 0.1% and nil, respectively, of our consolidated net revenues from Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku;

 

·                  Beijing Lanting Gaochuang Technologies Co., Ltd., or Lanting Gaochuang, a company incorporated in the PRC by Mr. Guo, and Lanting Huitong, our consolidated VIE through a series of contractual arrangements. Lanting Gaochuang primarily engages in technology research and development. We have not derived any consolidated net revenues from Lanting Gaochuang since its inception in December 2011, and we do not expect to derive any significant contributions to our consolidated net revenues from Lanting Gaochuang going forward, if at all;

 

·                  Lanting International Holding Limited, or Lanting International, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in Hong Kong as an intermediary holding company for our U.S. subsidiary, LITB, Inc.;

 

·                  LITB, Inc., our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware, USA, that primarily engages in marketing and software development and technology support . We have not derived any consolidated net revenues from LITB, Inc. since its inception;

 

·                  LightInTheBox International Logistic Co., Limited, or Lightinthebox Logistics, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in Hong Kong that primarily engages in expansion of our warehouses and distribution network outside of China;

 

·                  LITB Netherlands B.V., our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in the Netherlands that primarily engages in marketing in Europe;

 

·                  Light In The Box (Chengdu) Technology Co. Limited, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in the PRC that primarily engages in mobile application software development and information technology support; and

 

·                  Light In The Box (Suzhou) Trading Co., Limited, our wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in the PRC that primarily engages in providing supplier and warehouse management services for Light In The Box Limited.  In 2014, we derived an aggregate of 0.1% of our consolidated net revenues from Light In The Box (Suzhou) Trading Co., Limited.

 

Our principal executive offices are located at Tower 2, Area D, Diantong Square, No. 7 Jiuxianqiao North Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +(86-10) 5692-0099. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the office of Offshore Incorporations (Cayman) Limited, Scotia Centre, 4th Floor, P.O. Box 2804, George Town, Grand Cayman KY1-1112, Cayman Islands. Our telephone number at this address is +1 345 949 2648. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Law Debenture Corporate Services Inc., 400 Madison Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10017.

 

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Initial Public Offering

 

In June 2013, we completed our initial public offering, in which we offered and sold 19,090,000 ordinary shares in the form of ADSs, raising $75.0 million in proceeds before expenses to us. Our ADSs are listed on the NYSE under the symbol “LITB.”

 

ADS Repurchases

 

On December 16, 2013, we announced the implementation of a share repurchase program of up to $20.0 million worth of our outstanding ADSs each representing two of ordinary shares on the open market at prevailing market prices or in privately negotiated transactions through December 15, 2014.  On December 16, 2014, we extended this share repurchase program for an additional 12-month period from December 16, 2014 to December 15, 2015 with all terms and conditions of the share repurchase program remaining unchanged. See “Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers.”

 

B.                                    Business Overview

 

Overview

 

LightInTheBox is a global online retail company that delivers products directly to consumers around the world. We offer customers a convenient way to shop for a wide selection of products at attractive prices through www.lightinthebox.com, www.miniinthebox.com and our other websites as well as mobile applications, which are available in 27 major languages and cover more than 80.0% of Internet users globally, according to Internet World Stats. Our innovative data-driven business model allows us to offer customized products at scale through optimal merchandising, marketing and fulfillment. We have built an effective business model whereby we source many of our products directly from China-based manufacturers and we work closely with them to re-engineer their manufacturing processes to achieve faster time-to-market with a greater variety of products. We acquire customers primarily through the Internet and serve our customers primarily from our cost-effective locations in mainland China and Hong Kong.

 

We target products where consumers value choice or customization, such as apparel and home and garden products. We also offered a wide range of other products in our other general merchandise product category. The products of our core categories generally require design specificity, thus giving us more pricing flexibility and allowing us to capture higher margin potentials. For example, at any time, a customer shopping for a special occasion dress on our site can have her dress made-to-measure, choosing from more than 8,000 distinctive designs. As of December 31, 2014, we had more than 764,000 product listings. In 2014, we added an average of more than 133,400 new product listings each month.

 

We serve consumers globally without incurring the costs and complexities associated with establishing a traditional multinational retail infrastructure. Our major markets are Europe and North America. We use global online marketing platforms such as Google and Facebook to reach our consumers, we accept payments through all major credit cards and electronic payment platforms such as PayPal and Global Collect and we deliver our goods through major international couriers, including DHL, UPS and EMS.

 

We believe that being a China-based company provides important advantages in supply chain management. We strive to source high quality products directly from some of the most competitive manufacturers in the strongest supply ecosystems. By locating our sourcing offices near some of the most competitive factories, we realize cost advantages and inventory efficiency as we create effective supplier competition while maximizing the quality of our products in many cases. Our suppliers benefit from working closely with our in-house manufacturing experts to re-engineer their manufacturing processes to achieve faster time-to-market for our products and enable large scale production of individually customized products. We are also in the process of building out our global supply chain and sourcing strategy.

 

To acquire and retain customers across diverse geographic markets, we have developed proprietary technologies to manage and optimize our marketing operations. In addition, we have established a specialized social marketing team to engage online users. We provide a user-friendly online shopping experience to facilitate purchasing decisions.

 

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We have developed a proprietary technology platform that integrates every aspect of our business operation, including global marketing, online shopping platforms, supply chain management, fulfillment and logistics and customer service. Our founders have extensive experience and expertise in software development. We have made significant investments in software research and development to improve operational efficiency and enable business innovation.

 

We have grown significantly since we commenced our operations. Our net revenues grew from $58.7 million in 2010 to $382.4 million in 2014.  Our number of customers increased from approximately 0.5 million in 2010 to approximately 6.1 million in 2014. We experienced a net loss of $21.9 million, $24.5 million, $4.2 million, $4.8 million and $30.0 million in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. We also used cash in operating activities of $19.9 million, $14.1 million and $6.9 million in 2010, 2011 and 2014, respectively. We generated $7.4 million and $15.2 million in cash from operating activities in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

 

Our Websites and Mobile Applications

 

We operate our business primarily through www.lightinthebox.com and www.miniinthebox.com, offering customized apparel, small accessories and gadgets, home and garden, electronics and communication devices and other products. Our www.lightinthebox.com website is currently available in 27 major languages.

 

We have established additional websites for more specific products and geographic regions, including www.ouku.com for products targeting our Chinese customer base. All of our websites are supported by a common back-end technology platform, allowing for centralized inventory management across all of our websites.

 

We have made our websites easily accessible by users on their mobile devices. We believe this provides our customers with greater flexibility and convenience as to when and where they shop and provide us with the ability to attract even more customers. We have launched a dedicated shopping application that works with the iPhone TM , the iPad TM  and the Android TM  to enhance the mobile shopping experience of our users. In addition to our LightInTheBox and MiniInTheBox mobile applications, we have also launched our dedicated wedding planning application called InTime on iOS platform during the fourth quarter of 2013. InTime is our first mobile application initiative designed for global markets. As the number of customers making purchases through our mobile apps continues to increase, our mobile revenue increased to 26.8% of total net revenues in 2014, compared with 17.8% in 2013.

 

Our websites and mobile applications offer consumers a rich shopping experience and includes comprehensive information on our entire line of products such as detailed descriptions, rich media presentation, size and color availabilities and customer reviews. We have multilingual copywriter teams to ensure we translate important information on our websites in different languages accurately and in a timely fashion. Users may search and view our products by category, style and other popular features. They may also search by product name, code or keyword. We offer users social media tools on our websites to share information about our products on the world’s major social networking sites. We have also established online communities to foster customer peer sharing. Furthermore, we have introduced other functionalities to our sites, such as flash sale featuring our fashion apparel.

 

Supplemental Online Outlets

 

In addition to our own websites and mobile applications, we also experiment with selling through outlets on other high traffic online marketplace platforms such as Amazon.com, eBay.com and Tmall.com. These other online outlets provide us with additional channels for the sale of our products and market intelligence to optimize our product offerings.

 

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Our Product Offerings

 

We primarily offer customers products through our websites. We have historically focused on apparel and electronics and communication devices. In recent years, we have introduced other products, with a particular focus on small accessories and gadgets and home and garden, as well as beauty and sports and outdoor. We intend to continue to expand our product offerings and increase the variety and customization options of the products we offer in each of our categories.

 

Our product offerings include:

 

·                  Apparel.  This category includes customized, special occasion apparel and fast fashion.

 

·                  Other general merchandise. This category includes small accessories and gadgets, home and garden, electronics and communication devices and other products.

 

We have established dedicated retail management teams with strong expertise in their individual categories. We focus on products with strong market demand and large market size, supply chain feasibility, Chinese cost advantages, online marketing efficiency, logistical feasibility and cost saving potentials. After products are selected, we conduct frequent real-time customer behavior analysis and seek customer feedback through surveys to improve and tailor our offerings. This allows us to quickly make adjustments and improvements to our products or the presentation of such products. For wedding apparel, we have established our own design teams. Such internal design expertise allows us to create distinctive product designs and provide design feedback to suppliers as to the latest fashions and trends. Our design teams also assist us with our product selection and product presentation to maximize the appeal of our product offerings.

 

Our Relationship with Suppliers

 

We source many of our products directly from factories in China. In addition, we source products outside of China, such as from South Korea. We have a comprehensive supplier qualification system and have over 5,300 selected active suppliers. We select our suppliers based on a range of factors, including product quality, price, reliability, financial strength, reputation, ability to meet our delivery timeline and production capacity, ability to increase their production capacity along with the increase in our business and historical relationship. We employ a bidding process for the selection of our suppliers to encourage competition.

 

While we do not have manufacturing operations ourselves, we have in-house manufacturing experts who work closely with our suppliers. This provides us with visibility into the manufacturing process, which allows us to efficiently manage capacity and quality and enables continuous improvements and business innovations. Typically we enter into supply framework agreements with our suppliers and specify in each purchase order the product type, unit price, quantity, delivery timeline and other detailed items. As the manufacturing processes of some of our products, such as apparel and certain electronics, require a variety of delicate parts and materials, we usually require our suppliers to procure key materials from our designated raw material suppliers in case of raw material shortages and to ensure prompt fulfillment for popular items. We may also require our suppliers to produce custom fabrics and other materials in accordance with certain design and specification. Our suppliers are liable for problems and costs associated with custom clearance.

 

We have established a supply network that is characterized by on-demand procurement with low lead time. We have established six sourcing offices in China. We work with some of our suppliers to re-engineer their manufacturing process that enables us to place orders in relatively small batches. This provides us with the advantage to quickly adjust the design of our products, in each batch if needed, based on customer feedback. For example, for our made-to-measure products, such as customized apparel, we place orders with our suppliers only when our customers have placed an order, and such products are delivered to our warehouses by our suppliers within ten to 14 days from the time when we place an order. For non-customized products, we adopted a frequent procurement strategy characterized with short refill cycles from suppliers that are, in most cases, within 48 hours. Our supply chain management system has been efficient in managing inventory while also reducing production waste for our suppliers, which we believe increases the desire for suppliers to work with us.

 

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Starting from the fourth quarter of 2011, we have entered into arrangements with certain suppliers under which the suppliers store their products at our warehouses. Such products are referred to in this annual report as co-location inventory. Such co-location inventory products are delivered to our warehouses by our suppliers at their own costs, and we do not record these products as our inventory until all liabilities and rights of ownership of these products are passed on to us upon the confirmation of orders by our customers. We have the right to ask the suppliers to remove the co-location inventory from our warehouses at any time, generally at the suppliers’ own costs. However, we may from time to time pay the transportation cost associated with returning such products to suppliers. In addition, certain agreements with our suppliers require them to remove unsold co-location inventory within 90 days after these products are delivered. The costs and expenses incurred related to the storage of co-location inventory in our warehouses, such as rentals, are generally paid by us.

 

Purchases from our suppliers accounted for 65.1%, 61.3%  and 60.1% of our total cost of sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

 

Pricing

 

In general, we aim to set our products at competitive prices. We price our products to reflect the savings associated with direct sourcing, low inventory levels and optimized logistics. We set the price of our products based on consumer demand and feedback, sourcing costs, delivery costs and existing market prices for similar products. As we perform extensive data analysis on our product presentation and customer purchasing decisions, we believe we can effectively conduct targeted promotional activities, identify optimal pricing points for each product and generate strong sales and gross-margin performance.

 

Payment and Order Fulfillment

 

Payment

 

Our customers may choose from a wide range of payment methods. For our customers on www.lightintthebox.com and other sites targeting customers outside of China, operated by Light In The Box Limited, available payment options include online payment through all major credit and debit cards, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express, and electronic payment platforms such as PayPal and Global Collect, money transfer through Western Union and wire transfer. However, available payment options may differ depending on the country or region in which the customers are based.

 

For customers on our www.ouku.com and other sites operated by Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku targeting customers in China, payment options include cash on delivery, online payment, wire transfer and postal remittance. We also allow our customers to pay online with credit cards and debit cards issued by major banks in China, or through popular third-party electronic payment platforms.

 

Order Fulfillment

 

We have established strategically located warehouses in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province and Shenzhen, Guangdong Province in China. We also established a warehouse in Warsaw, Poland in March 2014, a warehouse in Hong Kong in July 2014 and a warehouse in Reno, Nevada in the United States in January 2015.  The warehouse in Reno, Nevada in the United States. is currently in the initial trial operational phase. In total, our warehouses measure over 55,750 square meters and have the capacity to handle over 72,000 orders per day. As we grow our business, we build incremental capacity to reduce our capital expenditures. Our warehouses are currently leased.

 

Generally, orders placed by our customers are transmitted via our information technology system to one of our warehouses. As a result of our unique supply network, we have generally maintained a low inventory level and, in many cases, do not keep many products in stock. Rather, we transmit orders to our suppliers for fulfillment only when such orders are received from our customers or on a daily basis in small batches. Products are then delivered from our suppliers to our warehouses for quality inspection before being shipped out to our customers by third-party couriers. We regularly monitor our order fulfillment process and solicit customer feedback to ensure fulfillment accuracy.

 

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We offer a wide range of delivery options to our customers. We work with global couriers such as DHL, UPS and EMS, for international deliveries. We also work with various local couriers for deliveries in China.

 

Refund and Exchange

 

We have implemented refund and exchange policies specific to each of our product categories. Generally, for products sold through our www.lightinthebox.com, www.miniinthebox.com and other sites targeting customers outside of China, if the product is returned for quality issues, damage during shipping, failure to conform to specifications, allergic reactions, we generally provide a full refund if the customer submits a return-request form to one of our customer service representatives within 30 days of receiving the product.  Customized apparel return requests are subject to additional restrictions due to the personalized nature of such products. Customers in the United States and Europe can return products to our outsourced collection centers in these areas. For products sold through our www.ouku.com and other sites targeting customers in China, refunds are generally provided within seven days of purchase for quality issues.  Customers in China who choose to make payment on delivery can inspect products and reject the delivery in part or in whole prior to paying for the goods.

 

Quality Control

 

We believe that our ability to offer quality products is essential to our continued growth and success. Therefore, we emphasize quality control and, as of December 31, 2014, we had built a quality control department of more than 120 employees.

 

As we source all of our products from suppliers, we have implemented a series of quality control measures to ensure that the products they provide meet our specifications and standards. We communicate actively with our suppliers to clarify our requirements, conduct onsite inspections both to ensure compliance with specifications on particular items as well as for regular quality concerns and share customer feedback. We thoroughly examine product prototypes or initial samples before production begins or agreements with the suppliers are enter into. We examine products when they arrive at our warehouses and we thoroughly inspect most of our products just prior to delivery to our customers.

 

Marketing

 

We focus our marketing activities on effective customer acquisition through targeted performance marketing. We primarily employ search engine marketing on a cost-per-click basis. Users are shown our advertisements when they conduct searches using designated keywords or phrases. Under our cost-per-click arrangements, we pay a fixed fee for each time a user clicks on our advertisements, with a higher fee for common keywords with a high correlation to purchase intention. Under our cost-per-acquisition arrangements, we pay each time a user purchases a product after clicking on an advertisement. We employ a combination of our own proprietary technology and advanced third-party infrastructure to manage and optimize our cost-per-click advertising and to discover long-tail multilingual keywords that are most likely to offer a positive return on investment.

 

We display contextual advertising through major search engines’ advertising networks on a cost-per-click basis. We measure the cost of customer acquisition and constantly adjust our keyword selection combinations, advertising copies and landing pages to increase the likelihood of customer purchases once they visit our websites. We also engage in an affiliate marketing program where we offer affiliated websites commissions for directing customer traffic to our websites through embedded hyperlinks. As of the date of this annual report, we actively managed millions of keywords in 27 languages and display advertising on over 600,000 publisher sites around the world. Furthermore, we have established a specialized social marketing team to promote our brand and presence across major global social networking platforms through viral marketing campaigns, such as exclusive deals to stimulate customer purchases.

 

We are also focused on providing our customers with a rich shopping experience, which drives customer recommendations, foster customer sharing and encourages repeat customer visits. We engage in direct marketing campaigns through personalized electronic direct marketing newsletters to our customers. We believe that our data analysis capabilities facilitate repeat purchases as we are able to send targeted notices to customers highlighting products they may find relevant and attractive. In addition, we have established a specialized customer relationship management team to enhance our customer experience.

 

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Customer Service

 

We believe our rapid growth in past years and success in attracting a growing customer base is partially attributable to our effort to provide excellent customer service. We have a team of highly trained customer service representatives to address customer inquiries, educate potential customers about our products and services and monitor order progress. We also pay close attention to reviews of our business or products on our or third-party websites in order to promptly address customer complaints and to improve our shopping experience and product offerings. Our full-time and part-time customer service representatives are able to provide customer services in 27 languages, up from 16 languages in 2012, and most of these representatives have overseas working experience.

 

We primarily provide customer services for our www.lightinthebox.com, www.miniinthebox.com and other sites targeting customers outside of China through electronic communications, including real-time online chat, e-mails and messages posted on our websites or through social media networks. Customer service for our www.ouku.com and other sites targeting customers in China are provided through toll-free call centers and electronic communications.

 

Our websites also offer a variety of self-help features. These features help our customers to track the status of their orders in real time. Customers may also cancel or modify their orders or contact our customer service representatives for exchange or return of products. We collect customer feedback to improve our responses and utilize such feedback to update our knowledge base to better address customers’ needs.

 

For discussion as to our product exchange and return policy, see “—Payment and Order Fulfillment—Refund and Exchange.”

 

Technology

 

We have focused on and will continue to invest in our information technology infrastructure and applications. We have built a proprietary modularized and scalable technology infrastructure, which enables us to quickly expand system capacity and add new features and functionalities in response to our business needs and evolving customer demand without affecting our existing operations or incurring significant costs.

 

Our systems are mainly composed of front-end and back-end modules with different functions. Each module operates independently and is not affected by the performance of other modules. The following describes the functionality of our front-end and back-end modules:

 

·                  Front-end Modules.  Our front-end modules support the operation of our user-interface websites, including user account management, website homepages, search functions, category browsing, product display pages, online shopping carts, checkout and order management functions.

 

·                  Back-end Modules.  Our back-end modules support our business operations, including our marketing system, order processing system, inventory management system, sourcing system (which is connected to systems of many of our suppliers for order placement and tracking), product fulfillment system (which is tied to our warehouses), product recommendation system, e-mail delivery system and customer support system. Many of our back-end systems work with each other and our financial operations systems and can generate up-to-date inventory reports and automatically place customized orders with our manufacturers.

 

A critical component of our business model is our data analysis capabilities. We have a dedicated data analysis team to track, analyze and forecast customer purchase and browsing behaviors. This enables us to anticipate market demand, arrange for production, rearrange website layouts and product placement, product presentation and supports our supply network. Our systems are integrated to allow a seamless communication of data regarding our customers, their orders, product availability information and logistics information.

 

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Our open application programming interface approach allows us to integrate and work with third- party websites including social network sites, electronic payment platforms, other online distribution outlets and analytic systems. We have also adopted rigorous security policies and measures, including our dual-key and server-specific encryption technology, to protect customer privacy. Customers are protected by their own unique passwords and by our advanced data security software.

 

Competition

 

The retail market for our products is intensely competitive. Consumers have many product choices online and offline offered by global, regional and local retailers. Our current or potential competitors include online retailers such as other China-based global online retail companies, retail chains, specialty retailers and sellers on online marketplaces. Each of our competitors has unique strengths that depend on their demographic, product and geographic focus. We may also in the future face competition from new entrants, consolidations of existing competitors or companies created through spin-offs of our larger competitors. For information in relation to the competitive challenges that we face, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—The online retail industry is intensely competitive and we may not compete successfully against new and existing competitors, which may materially and adversely affect our results of operations.”

 

We compete on the basis of characteristics such as sourcing products efficiently, technology innovation, pricing our products competitively, maintaining the quality of our products and services, anticipating and responding quickly to changing consumer demands, conducting strong and effective marketing activities and maintaining favorable brand recognition. We believe that our primary competitive advantages are our technology-enabled infrastructure, our differentiated product offerings, direct sourcing from cost competitive and flexible suppliers in China, strong online marketing capabilities, favorable prices, effective customer service, and a strong management team.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We rely on a combination of trademark, trade secret, patent and other intellectual property laws as well as confidentiality agreements with our employees, manufacturers and others to protect our intellectual property. We have registered domain names for all of our websites, including www.lightinthebox.com, www.ouku.com and www.miniinthebox.com and trademarks and service marks in China, Hong Kong and the European Union, including for Lightinthebox and MiniInTheBox . We also have seven registered computer software copyrights in China and two computer software copyright applications in the United States. In addition, we have filed additional trademark applications in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Austria, the European Union and the United States, as well as patent applications in China and the United States.

 

In addition to the protection of our intellectual property, we are also focused on ensuring that our product offerings do not infringe the intellectual property of others. We have adopted internal policies and guidelines during product design and procurement process to make sure our suppliers and products we offer do not infringe on third-party intellectual property rights. All our supplier agreements contain provisions to safeguard against potential intellectual property infringement by our suppliers and impose severe penalties in the event of any infringement. We will also refuse to work with or terminate our relationship with suppliers in the event of intellectual property right violations. In addition, we have also engaged third-party advisors to assist us in ensuring compliance with third-party intellectual property rights.

 

Despite our best efforts, however, we cannot be certain that third parties will not infringe or misappropriate our intellectual property rights and that products sold on our websites do not infringe or misappropriate the intellectual property rights of others. For information in relation to the challenges we face protecting our intellectual property, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—We may not be able to prevent unauthorized use of our intellectual property, which could harm our business and competitive position.” For information in relation to the challenges we face in relation to preventing our infringement of the intellectual property rights of others, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Products manufactured by our suppliers may be defective or inferior in quality or infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, which may materially and adversely affect our business.”

 

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Seasonality

 

We experience seasonality in our business, reflecting seasonal fluctuations in online and offline retail patterns in general and for our products. For example, sales may be higher in the fourth quarter of a calendar year due to the Christmas holidays. Our product mix may experience quarterly shifts which may cause our margins to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Our results of operations are subject to quarterly fluctuations due to a number of factors that could adversely affect our business and the trading price of the ADSs.”

 

Insurance

 

We participate in government sponsored social security programs including pension, unemployment insurance, childbirth insurance, work-related injury insurance, medical insurance and housing fund. We currently have limited insurance covering certain of our warehouses but do not maintain insurance for all of our properties. In addition, as is typical in China, we do not maintain business interruption insurance, or general third-party liability insurance, general product liability insurance, or key-man life insurance. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—We do not have any business liability, disruption or litigation insurance and any business disruption or litigation we experience might result in our incurring substantial costs and diversion of resources.”

 

Regulation

 

We sell our products to customers around the world, and as such we are subject to a number of foreign and domestic laws and regulations that affect companies conducting global online retail businesses, many of which are still evolving and could be interpreted in ways that could harm our business. For example, we are subject to laws protecting the privacy of customer non-public information and regulations prohibiting unfair and deceptive trade practices. Other laws in which we may be subject include issues such as user privacy, the tracking of consumer activities, marketing e-mails and communications, other advertising and promotional practices, content and quality of products and services, sales and other taxes, import and export laws, electronic contracts and other communications and mandatory data retention.

 

For example, tax authorities in a number of states in the United States are currently reviewing the appropriate tax treatment of companies engaged in online commerce, and new state tax regulations may subject us to additional state sales and income taxes. New legislation or regulations, the application of laws and regulations from jurisdictions whose laws do not currently apply to our business or the application of existing laws and regulations to the Internet and commercial online services could result in significant additional taxes or regulatory restrictions on our business.

 

Many states in the United States have passed laws requiring notification to subscribers when there is a security breach of personal data. There are also a number of legislative proposals pending before Congress, various state legislative bodies and foreign governments concerning data protection. In addition, data protection laws in Europe and other jurisdictions outside the United States may be more restrictive, and the interpretation and application of these laws are still uncertain. It is possible that these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our data practices. If so, in addition to the possibility of fines, this could result in an order requiring that we change our data practices, which could have an adverse effect on our business. Complying with these various laws could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner adverse to our business.

 

Although our products are sold all over the world, our operations are based primarily in China, and as such, we are primarily governed by and especially sensitive to the laws and regulations of China, including the following:

 

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Regulations Relating to Cross-border Trading

 

The Customs Law, effective as of July 1, 1987 and amended on July 8, 2000, June 29, 2013 and December 28, 2013, divides imported and exported items into “goods” and “articles” based upon the nature and purpose of such items. Under the Customs Law, “goods” and “articles” are not defined. However, this concept is clarified in the Rules for the Implementation of Administrative Punishments Under the Customs Law, effective as of November 1, 2004. These Rules describes “articles” as postal items and travelers’ luggage that are brought in and out of the PRC on an individual’s person or luggage. When the quantity of articles is higher than a reasonable amount for personal use, it will be regarded as “goods.” “Personal use” means that the traveler or consignee will use the items themselves or give the items as gifts, rather than selling or renting the items. “Reasonable amount” means the regular amount determined in accordance with the traveler or consignee’s situation, purpose of travel and duration of stay. Product samples are also categorized as “goods”, but customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for the export of product samples are handled differently from the export of other “goods”.

 

The Foreign Trade Law, effective as of July 1, 2004, governs international trade in services and the import and export of goods and technologies. Under this law, goods and technologies are categorized as (i) permitted, which may be freely imported and exported, (ii) restricted, which require advance approval or (iii) prohibited, which may not be imported or exported at all. Currently, all merchandise we export is categorized as permitted. Furthermore, an “import and export trader”, or any company or individual engaging in the import or export of goods or technologies, must register with the administrative department of foreign trade under the State Council or any of its authorized bodies in order to be qualified as a foreign trade business operator. According to current foreign trade laws, the Ministry of Commerce and its competent local branches are the authorized bodies to conduct qualification filings and registrations for foreign trade business operators.

 

The Customs Law requires that importers and exporters make true declarations of their goods and technologies to customs. The Measures for the Inspection of Imported and Exported Merchandise, effective as of February 21, 1989 and amended on April 28, 2002, also requires that certain items listed in the Catalogue of Import and Export Commodities for Inspection, or the Customers Catalogue, must be inspected by a commodity inspection organization before it can be exported. For import and export commodities not listed in the Customers Catalogue, the commodity inspection authorities may conduct random inspections pursuant to the Measures for the Administration of Random Inspection of Import and Export Commodities, effective as of December 31, 2002. Further, the Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs jointly adopted a mandatory licensing system for the export of certain merchandise, which exporters must comply with depending on the commodities they export.

 

The customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for goods and articles are different. The declaration of import or export of goods may be made by the consignees or consigners themselves or by customs brokers that have registered with the permission of the customs. The consignees, consigners or customs brokers shall make true declarations and submit the import or export license for restricted goods and relevant documentation to the customs for inspection. The Measures for the Inspection of Imported and Exported Merchandise also requires that certain goods must be inspected by a commodity inspection organization before it can be exported, while exported articles are generally exempted from inspection, unless otherwise required by law.

 

We work with third-party couriers to ship the merchandise purchased by our global customers on a parcel-by-parcel basis and to go through customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for the export of these merchandise. The customs declaration, clearance and inspection procedures for the merchandise which are packaged and shipped in parcels are handled in accordance with procedures for articles or product samples. If the PRC government determines that our custom declaration practice do not comply with applicable laws and regulations and the merchandise we sell to our global customers shall be exported as goods instead of articles or product samples, it may take regulatory or enforcement actions against us. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may be adversely affected by the uncertainties and changes in the PRC regulations and policies of cross-border activities.”

 

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Corporate Laws and Industry Catalogue Relating to Foreign Investment

 

The establishment, operation and management of corporate entities in China are governed by the Company Law of the PRC, or the Company Law, effective in 1994 and as amended in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2013 and 2015, respectively. The Company Law is applicable to our PRC subsidiary, our VIEs and Shanghai Ouku unless the PRC laws on foreign investment have stipulated otherwise.

 

The establishment, approval, registered capital requirement and day-to-day operational matters of wholly foreign owned enterprises, such as our PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi, are regulated by the Wholly Foreign owned Enterprise Law of the PRC, effective in 1986 and as amended in 2000, and the Implementation Rules of the Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise Law of the PRC, effective in 1990, as amended in 2001.

 

Investment activities in the PRC by foreign investors are principally governed by the Guidance Catalogue of Industries for Foreign Investment, or the Catalogue, which was promulgated and is amended from time to time by the Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. The Catalogue divides industries into three categories: encouraged, restricted and prohibited. Industries not listed in the Catalogue are generally open to foreign investment unless specifically restricted by other PRC regulations.

 

Establishment of wholly foreign owned enterprises is generally permitted in encouraged industries. Some restricted industries are limited to equity or contractual joint ventures, while in some cases Chinese partners are required to hold the majority interests in such joint ventures. In addition, restricted category projects are also subject to higher-level government approvals. Foreign investors are not allowed to invest in industries in the prohibited category.

 

The Ministry of Commerce published a discussion draft of the proposed Foreign Investment Law in January 2015 aiming to, upon its enactment, replace the trio of existing laws regulating foreign investment in China, namely, the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations. See “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure — Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable, final scope, interpretation and implementation of the draft PRC Foreign Investment Law recently published for public comments, including how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.”

 

Regulations Relating to Telecommunications Services

 

The Telecommunications Regulations were promulgated by the State Council in 2000 and revised on 29 July, 2014. The Telecom Regulations draw a distinction between “basic telecommunication services” and “value-added telecommunication services.” Internet content provision services, or ICP services, is a subcategory of value-added telecommunications businesses. Under the Telecom Regulations, commercial operators of value-added telecommunications services must first obtain an operating license from the MIIT or its provincial level counterparts.

 

On September 25, 2000, the State Council issued the Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services, or the Internet Measures. According to the Internet Measures, commercial ICP service operators must obtain a value-added telecommunications license for Internet information service or an ICP license from the relevant government authorities before engaging in any commercial ICP operations within the PRC. In November 2000, the MIIT promulgated the Administrative Measures on Internet Electronic Messaging Services, or the BBS Measures. BBS services include electronic bulletin boards, electronic forums, message boards and chat rooms. The BBS Measures require Internet information services operators to obtain specific approvals or filings before providing BBS services.

 

On December 26, 2001, the MIIT promulgated the Administrative Measures on Telecommunications Business Operating License, or the Telecom License Measures. On March 1, 2009, the MIIT issued the revised Telecom License Measures, which took effect on April 10, 2009. The Telecom License Measures set forth the types of licenses required to operate value-added telecommunications services and the qualifications and procedures for obtaining such licenses. For example, an ICP operator providing value-added services in multiple provinces is required to obtain an inter-regional license, whereas an ICP operator providing the same services in one province is required to obtain a local license.

 

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To comply with these PRC laws and regulations, Lanting Huitong, as our ICP operator, holds an ICP license.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Investment in Value-Added Telecommunications Industry

 

According to the Administrative Rules for Foreign Investment in Telecommunications Enterprises issued by the State Council effective in January 2002, as amended in September 2008, a foreign investor may hold no more than a 50% equity interest in a value-added telecommunications services provider in China and such foreign investor must have experience in providing value-added telecommunications services overseas and maintain a good track record.

 

The Circular on Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Investment in and Operation of Value-added Telecommunications Business, or the Circular, issued by the former Ministry of Information Industry in July 2006, reiterated the regulations on foreign investment in telecommunications businesses, which require foreign investors to set up FIEs and obtain an ICP license to conduct any commercial ICP business in China. Under the Circular, a domestic company that holds an ICP license is prohibited from leasing, transferring or selling the license to foreign investors in any form and from providing any assistance, including providing resources, sites or facilities, to foreign investors that conduct value-added telecommunications business illegally in China. Furthermore, certain relevant assets, such as the relevant trademarks and domain names that are used in the value-added telecommunications business must be owned by the local ICP license holder or its shareholders. The Circular further requires each ICP license holder to have the necessary facilities for its approved business operations and to maintain such facilities in the regions covered by its license. In addition, all value-added telecommunications service providers are required to maintain network and information security in accordance with the standards set forth under relevant PRC regulations. If an ICP license holder fails to comply with the requirements in the Circular and also fails to remedy such non-compliance within a specified period of time, the Ministry of Information Industry (currently the MIIT) or its local counterparts have the discretion to take administrative measures against such license holder, including revoking its ICP license.

 

In March 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce issued the updated Catalogue, which further relaxed market access restrictions. Among these changes, foreign investors will now be allowed to own up to 100% of the equity interests in an e-commerce business. The Catalogue became effective on April 10, 2015. However, there are still uncertainties as to how the Catalogue will be enforced in regards to e-commerce business, especially through the MIIT which has authority over the internet industry.

 

Regulations Relating to Internet Information Services and Content of Internet Information

 

On September 25, 2000, the State Council issued the Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services, or the Internet Measures, to regulate the provision of information services to online users through the Internet. According to the Internet Measures, entities engaged in the provision of Internet information services within the PRC should obtain either (i) an “Internet Content Provider” license issued by the MIIT or its local bureau (ICP License), if the services in question are regarded as “commercial Internet information services”; or (2) an ICP filing with the local MIIT bureau (ICP Filing), if the services in question are regarded to as “non-commercial services”. The former refers to “information, web page creation and other services provided to Internet users via the Internet for consideration”, while the latter refers to “services that provide information of a publicly available and accessible nature to Internet users via the Internet for gratis”. Operators providing commercial Internet information services shall obtain specific approvals before providing BBS services and the operators providing non-commercial Internet information services shall obtain specific filings before providing BBS services. If an Internet information service provider fails to obtain an ICP license or ICP filing or fails to obtain a specific approval or filing for its BBS services, the relevant local branch of the MIIT may levy fines, confiscate its income or even block its website. The concepts of commercial and non-commercial Internet information services are stipulated generally and hence leave much room for interpretation by the local MIIT bureau in its approval practice. According to the practice of Shanghai MIIT branch which applies the ICP filing system to online e-commerce activity (rather than ICP license), Shanghai Ouku has made ICP filings for its website. Shanghai Ouku has not obtained specific filings for BBS on its website.

 

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The Internet Measures further specify that Internet information services regarding, among others, news, publication, education, medical and health care, pharmacy and medical appliances are required to be examined, approved and regulated by the relevant authorities. Internet content providers are prohibited from providing services beyond that included in the scope of their business license or other required licenses or permits. Furthermore, the Internet Measures clearly specify a list of prohibited content. Internet content providers must monitor and control the information posted on their websites. If any prohibited content is found, they must remove the offending content immediately, keep a record and report to the relevant authorities.

 

On February 4, 2015, the China Internet Network Information Center promulgated the Administrative Provisions on Account Names of Internet Users, or the Account Names Provisions, which will become effective as of March 1, 2015. The Account Name Provisions require all Internet information service provider users to authenticate their real identity information for registration of accounts and to commit to complying with the “seven basic requirements”, including observing the laws and regulations, upholding the socialist regime, protecting state interests, as well as ensuring the authenticity of any information they provide.  Relevant Internet information service providers are responsible for protecting users’ privacy, the consistency between user information, such as account names, avatars, and the requirements contemplated in the Account Names Provisions, making reports to the competent authorities regarding any violation of the Account Names Provisions, and taking appropriate measures to stop any such violations, such as, notifying users to make corrections within a specified time and suspending or closing accounts in the event of continued non-compliance by users.

 

Regulation Relating to E-Commerce

 

China’s e-commerce industry is at an early stage of development and there are few PRC laws or regulations specifically regulating the e-commerce industry.  In January 2014, the SAIC issued the Administrative Measures on Online Trading, or the Administrative Measures.  The Administrative Measures regulate online trading, including selling items and providing services through the Internet.  In addition to basic requirements that online sellers and service provider, or together the Operator, should abide by the requirements of the PRC Consumer Rights and Interests Protection Law and similar rules, the Administrative Measures emphasize that an Operator is responsible for personal data protection.  In this respect, Operators are obliged to (i) seek consumers’ prior consent for collecting and using their personal data, (ii) keep the collected data confidential and secured, and (iii) take effective measures to remedy any leakage or loss of personal data.  In addition, the Administrative Measures set specific requirements for operators of third party platforms that provide a web space for parties to transact business.  These requirements includes authenticating the Operator’s identification, signing a contract with the Operator for the use of the platform, setting rules for online trading, security and dispute resolution, cooperation with the local administrations of industry and commerce, taking measures to protect trademark rights and corporate name rights, distinguishing its own products or service from those of other Operators, and keep online trading records for at least two years.

 

Given that the Administrative Measures only took effect on March 15, 2014, there are thus far no relevant implementation rules or interpretations.

 

On December 24, 2014, the MOFCOM issue the Provisions on the Procedures for Formulating Transaction Rules of Third-party Platforms for Internet Retail (for Trial Implementation), or the Procedures Provisions, effective as of April 1, 2015. The Procedures Provisions were promulgated to promote the healthy development of Internet retail, protect the legitimate rights and interests of various parties involved in Internet retail activities based on third-party platforms, safeguard the public interest, and strengthen public information services. It specifies the duties of operators of third-party platforms for Internet retail, which are to make relevant transactions rules public and recorded, solicit public opinions when such operators formulate or revise their transaction rules, adapt reasonable transitional measures if the transaction rules that are formulated, revised or enforced by them have a material impact on Internet retail operators and consumers, and similar measures. In addition, the Procedure Provisions also give the power to the local competent commerce authorities to impose penalties on operators where there is a violation.

 

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Foreign ownership of e-commerce and related businesses, including online retail businesses, is subject to restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations, other than foreign investors in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.  Under prior laws, foreign investors outside of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (subject to certain conditions) are not allowed to own more than 50% of the equity interests in a value-added telecommunications service provider, and any such foreign investor must have experience in providing value-added telecommunications services overseas and maintain a good track record.  In March 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce issued the updated Catalogue, which further relaxed market access restrictions.  Among these changes, foreign investors will now be allowed to own up to 100% of the equity interests in an e-commerce business.  The Catalogue became effective on April 10, 2015.

 

The Administrative Measures, the Procedures Provisions and the Catalogue are new and there are still uncertainties as to their interpretation and implementation. The operation of our domestic websites is currently operated by Lanting Huitong and its subsidiary, Shanghai Ouku.  In the event of any clarifications or interpretations that may be issued in the future regarding the Administrative Measures, the Procedures Provisions and/or the Catalogue, we might need to adjust our operational or contracting practices accordingly.

 

Regulations Relating to Privacy Protection

 

In recent years, the PRC government authorities have enacted legislation on Internet use to protect personal information from any unauthorized disclosure. Current PRC laws do not prohibit ICP operators from collecting and using personal information from their users with consent. However, the Internet Measures prohibit an ICP operator from insulting or slandering a third party or infringing the lawful rights and interests of a third party. Pursuant to the BBS Measures, ICP operators that provide electronic messaging services must keep users’ personal information confidential and must not disclose such personal information to any third party without their consent or unless required by law. The regulations further authorize the relevant telecommunications authorities to order ICP operators to rectify their unauthorized disclosure. ICP operators are subject to legal liability if the unauthorized disclosure results in damages or losses to users. The PRC government, however, has the power and authority to order ICP operators to turn over personal information if an Internet user posts any prohibited content or engages in illegal activities on the Internet. On December 29, 2011, the MIIT promulgated the Several Provisions on Regulating the Market Order of Internet Information Services, effective as of March 15, 2012. It stipulates that ICP operators may not, without a user’s consent, collect the user’s information that can be used alone or in combination with other information to identify the user and may not provide any such information to third parties without the user’s prior consent. ICP operators may only collect users’ personal information that is necessary to provide their services and must expressly inform the users of the method, content and purpose of the collection and using of such personal information. In addition, an ICP operator may only use users’ personal information for the stated purposes under the ICP operator’s scope of service. ICP operators are also required to ensure the proper security of users’ personal information, and take immediate remedial measures if users’ personal information is suspected to have been inappropriately disclosed. If the consequences of any such disclosure are expected to be serious, ICP operators must immediately report the incident to the telecommunications regulatory authority and cooperate with the authorities in their investigations. On December 28, 2012, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC issued the Decision on Strengthening the Protection of Online Information. Most requirements under this decision relevant to ICP operators are consistent with the requirements already established under the MIIT provisions discussed above, but are often stricter and broader. Under this decision, ICP operators are required to take such technical and other measures necessary to safeguard the information against inappropriate disclosure. To further implement this decision and relevant rules, MIIT issued the Regulation of Protection of Telecommunication and Internet User Information on July 16, 2013, which became effective on September 1, 2013. We believe that we are currently in compliance with these regulations in all material aspects.

 

Regulations on Intellectual Property Rights

 

China has adopted legislation governing intellectual property rights, including trademarks, patents and copyrights. China is a signatory to the major international conventions on intellectual property rights and became a member of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights upon its accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001.

 

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Patent

 

The National People’s Congress adopted the Patent Law in 1984, which was subsequently amended in 1992, 2000 and 2008. The purpose of the Patent Law is to protect lawful interests of patent holders, encourage invention, foster applications of invention, enhance innovative capabilities and promote the development of science and technology. To be patentable, invention or utility models must meet three conditions: novelty, inventiveness and practical applicability. Patents cannot be granted for scientific discoveries, rules and methods for intellectual activities, methods used to diagnose or treat diseases, animal and plant breeds, substances obtained by means of nuclear transformation or a design which has major marking effect on the patterns or colors of graphic print products or a combination of both patterns and colors. The Patent Office under the State Intellectual Property Office is responsible for administering patents in the PRC. A patent is valid for a term of 20 years in the case of an invention and a term of ten years in the case of utility models and designs, each starting from application date. A third-party user must obtain consent or a proper license from the patent owner to use the patent. Otherwise, the use constitutes an infringement of patent rights.

 

China follows a “first to file” principle for patents. When more than one person files a patent application for the same invention, the patent will be granted to the person who first filed the application. In addition, the PRC requires absolute novelty in order for an invention to be patentable. Pursuant to this requirement, generally, with limited exceptions, any prior written or oral publication in or outside the PRC, demonstration or use in the PRC before the patent application filing prevents an invention from being patented in the PRC. Patents issued in the PRC are not enforceable in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau, each of which has an independent patent system. The fact that a patent application is pending is no guarantee that a patent will be granted and, even if granted, the scope of a patent may not be as broad as that of the initial application.

 

When a patent infringement dispute arises, the patent holder or an interested party who believes the patent is being infringed may either file a civil lawsuit or file a complaint with the relevant authorities in charge of the patent administration. A PRC court may grant the patent holder’s or the interested party’s request for a preliminary injunction before the legal proceeding. Pursuant to the Patent Law, an infringer shall be subject to various civil liabilities, which include ceasing the infringement and compensating the actual loss suffered by patent owners. If it is difficult to calculate the actual loss suffered by the patent owner, the illegal income received by the infringer as a result of the infringement or if it is difficult to calculate the illegal income, a reasonable amount calculated with reference to the patent royalties shall be deemed as the actual loss. The compensation amount shall also include the reasonable expenses incurred by the patent owner for stopping the infringement. If damages cannot be established by any of the above methods the court can decide the amount of the actual loss up to RMB1,000,000. In addition, an infringer who counterfeits patents of third parties shall be subject to administrative penalties or criminal liabilities if applicable. Typically, a patent holder in the PRC has the burden of proving that the patent is being infringed. However, if the holder of a production process patent alleges infringement of such patent, the alleged infringing party which produces the same kind of products has the burden of proving that there has been no infringement.

 

We have applied for one patent registration in China, which is now undergoing substantive examination.

 

Copyright

 

Copyrights are protected by the Copyright Law of the PRC which was promulgated in 1990 and amended in 2001 and February 2010 and the Regulation for the Implementation of the Copyright Law of the PRC which came into effect in September 2002 and was amended in January 2011. The amended Copyright Law extends copyright protection to Internet activities, products disseminated over the Internet and software products. In addition, there is a voluntary registration system administered by local Copyright Bureaus and the China Copyright Protection Center. The amended Copyright Law also requires registration of a copyright pledge.

 

Copyrights shall vest on the authors, unless otherwise provided under the laws. If a work constitutes “work for hire”, the employer, instead of the employee, is considered the legal author of the work and will enjoy the copyrights of such “work for hire” other than rights of authorship. “Works for hire” include, (1) drawings of engineering designs and product designs, maps, computer software and other categories, which are created mainly with the materials and technical resources of the legal entity or organization with responsibilities being assumed by such legal entity or organization; (2) those works the copyrights of which are, in accordance with the laws or administrative regulations or under contractual arrangements, enjoyed by a legal entity or organization. The actual creator may enjoy the rights of authorship of such “work for hire.” A copyright owner may transfer its copyrights to others or permit others to use its copyrighted works. Use of copyrighted works of others generally requires a licensing contract with the copyright owner. The protection period for copyrights in the PRC varies, with 50 years as the minimum. The protection period for a “work for hire” where a legal entity or organization owns the copyright (except for the right of authorship) is 50 years, expiring on December 31 of the fiftieth year after the first publication of such work.

 

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In China, holders of computer software copyrights enjoy protections under the Copyright Law. Various regulations relating to the protection of software copyrights in China have promulgated. Under these regulations, computer software that is independently developed and exists in a physical form is protected, and software copyright owners may license or transfer their software copyrights to others. Registration of software copyrights, exclusive licensing and transfer contracts with the Copyright Protection Center of China or its local branches is encouraged. Such registration is not mandatory under Chinese law, but can enhance the protections available to the registered copyrights holders.

 

Where copyright or a copyright-related right is infringed, the infringer shall make compensation according to the actual losses incurred by the right owner. Where the actual losses are difficult to calculate, the compensation may be paid according to the illegal incomes obtained by the infringer. The compensation amount shall also include the reasonable expenses incurred by the right owner for preventing the infringement. Where neither the actual losses incurred by the right owner nor the illegal gains obtained by the infringer is determinable, the court may render a ruling to award compensation in an amount not more than RMB500,000.

 

We have seven registered computer software copyrights in China.

 

Trademark

 

Trademarks are protected by the PRC Trademark Law adopted in 1982 and subsequently amended in 1993, 2001 and 2013 as well as the Implementation Regulation of the PRC Trademark Law adopted by the State Council in 2002. The Trademark Office under the SAIC handles trademark registrations and grants a term of ten years to registered trademarks and another ten years if requested upon expiry of the first or any renewed ten year term. Trademark license agreements must be filed with the Trademark Office for record. The PRC Trademark Law has adopted a “first-to-file” principle with respect to trademark registration. Where a trademark for which a registration has been made is identical or similar to another trademark which has already been registered or been subject to a preliminary examination and approval for use on the same kind of or similar commodities or services, the application for registration of such trademark may be rejected. Any person applying for the registration of a trademark may not prejudice the existing right first obtained by others, nor may any person register in advance a trademark that has already been used by another party and has already gained a “sufficient degree of reputation” through such party’s use. Trademark license agreements must be filed with the Trademark Office or its regional offices.

 

Under the Trademark Law, any of the following acts is deemed as an infringement to the right to exclusive use of a registered trademark: (i) using a trademark identical to the registered trademark for the same kind of commodities without a license from the registrant of that trademark; (ii) using a trademark that is similar to a registered trademark for the same goods, or using a trademark that is identical or similar to a registered trademark for similar goods in a way that could be confusing, without a license from the registrant of that trademark ; (iii ) selling commodities that infringe upon the right to exclusive use of a registered trademark; ( iv ) forging or manufacturing without authorization the marks of a registered trademark of another, or selling the marks of a registered trademark that has been forged or manufactured without authorization; (v) changing a registered trademark and putting commodities with the changed trademark into the market without the consent of the registrant of that trademark; (vi) providing conveniences to intentionally facilitate trademark infringement; or (vii ) causing other damage to the right to exclusive use of a registered trademark of another person. In the event of any of the foregoing acts, the infringer may be fined, and ordered to stop the infringement acts immediately and pay the infringed party compensation. The compensation shall be equal to the amount of (i)  the losses suffered by the infringed party ; (ii)  the benefits gained by the infringing party if the losses suffered by the infringed party are difficult to determine, or (iii) a multiple of the royalty for a relevant trademark license if both of the foregoing are difficult to determine, including any reasonable expenses incurred by the infringed party in stopping the infringement. For seriously malicious infringement, the amount of compensation may be one to three times the foregoing amounts. If it is difficult to determine the amount of the benefits gained by the infringing party, the losses suffered by the infringed party or the relevant royalty for a trademark license , the court may render a judgment awarding damages not more than RMB 3.0 million .

 

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Selling goods without awareness of such goods’ infringement of the exclusive right to use a trademark shall be exempted from liability for compensation insofar as the seller is able to prove that the goods were lawfully obtained and can indicate the supplier’s identity.

 

All of our logos are registered trademarks in China, including Lightinthebox and ouku.

 

Domain Names

 

In September 2002, China Internet Network Information Center, or the CNNIC, issued the Implementing Rules for Domain Name Registration setting forth detailed rules for registration of domain names. On November 5, 2004, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China, or the MIIT, promulgated the Measures for Administration of Domain Names for the Chinese Internet, or Domain Name Measures. The Domain Name Measures regulate the registration of domain names, such as the first tier domain name “.cn.” In February 2006, CNNIC issued the Measures on Domain Name Disputes Resolution and its implementing rules, pursuant to which CNNIC can authorize a domain name dispute resolution institution to decide disputes. These regulations require owners of Internet domain names to register their domain names with qualified domain name registrars approved by the MIIT and obtain registration certificates from such registration agencies. A registered domain name owner has the exclusive right to use its domain name. Unregistered domain names may not receive proper legal protections and may be misappropriated by unauthorized third parties.

 

We have registered domain names for all of our websites, including www.lightinthebox.com, www.ouku.com and www.miniinthebox.com.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Currency Exchange

 

Foreign Exchange Relating to Export Businesses

 

Foreign exchange activities relating to import and export trading in China are primarily governed by the following regulations:

 

·                  the Foreign Currency Administration Rules (2008), or the Exchange Rules;

 

·                  the Administrative Measures for the Verification and Cancellation of Export Proceeds in Foreign Exchange and its implementing rules (2003); and

 

·                  the Administration Rules for the Settlement, Sale and Payment of Foreign Exchange (1996), or the Administration Rules.

 

These foreign exchange regulations, along with certain other ancillary notices issued by the SAFE, lay out the legal framework for the administration of foreign exchange for the export of commodities in international trade. Under these foreign exchange regulations, the exporter, in order to receive the proceeds of the export in foreign exchange and settle the same into Renminbi, must apply with the local branch of the SAFE for a certificate of verification and cancellation of export proceeds in foreign exchange unless otherwise provided under the applicable laws and regulations The exporter must also apply with the competent tax authorities for a tax exemption or refund where a tax exemption refund is applicable.

 

We source many of our products from suppliers in the PRC. Our payments are in most cases made to the suppliers’ entities located in Hong Kong and in some cases are made to sourcing agents located in Hong Kong for further settlement with our suppliers. Our payments are made directly to such Hong Kong entities and thus are not subject to the PRC foreign exchange laws and regulations. Following receipt of the payment in foreign exchange either from the agents to the PRC suppliers or from suppliers’ own entities located in Hong Kong to the suppliers’ entities in mainland China, the PRC suppliers shall go through the relevant procedures with the local branch of the SAFE as mentioned above to settle the foreign exchange into Renminbi. However, we cannot assure you that all our sourcing agents or the PRC suppliers will fully comply with these foreign exchange laws and regulations.

 

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Foreign Exchange Relating to FIEs

 

Under current Chinese regulations, Renminbi are freely convertible for trade and service-related transactions denominated in foreign currency, but not for direct investment, loans or investments in securities outside China without the prior approval of the SAFE or its local branches.

 

FIEs in China may execute foreign exchange transactions without the SAFE approval for trade and service-related transactions denominated in foreign currency by providing commercial documents evidencing these transactions. They may also retain foreign currency, subject to a cap approved by the SAFE, to satisfy foreign currency-denominated liabilities or to pay dividends. Foreign exchange transactions related to direct investment, loans and investment in securities outside China are still subject to limitations and require approval from the SAFE.

 

Furthermore, on August 29, 2008, the SAFE issued the Circular on the Relevant Operating Issues Concerning the Improvement of the Administration of the Payment and Settlement of Foreign Currency Capital of Foreign-Invested Enterprises, or Circular 142. Pursuant to Circular 142, Renminbi capital derived from the settlement of a FIE’s foreign currency capital must be used within the business scope approved by the applicable government authority and cannot be used for domestic equity investment, unless specifically provided for otherwise. Documents certifying the purposes of the settlement of foreign currency capital into Renminbi, including a business contract, must also be submitted for the settlement of such foreign currency. In addition, FIEs may not change how they use such capital without the SAFE’s approval and may not in any case use such capital to repay Renminbi loans if they have not used the proceeds of such loans.  Violation of Circular 142 can result in severe penalties, including heavy fines as set forth in the Foreign Exchange Administration Rules. Furthermore, the SAFE promulgated a circular on November 19, 2010, or Circular 59, which tightens the regulation over settlement of net proceeds from overseas offerings like our initial public offering and requires that the settlement of net proceeds must be consistent with the description in the prospectus for the offering. Circular 142 and Circular 59 may significantly limit our ability to transfer the net proceeds from our initial public offering to our PRC subsidiary and convert the net proceeds into Renminbi, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in the PRC.

 

Regulations on Dividend Distributions

 

The principal regulations governing dividend distributions of wholly foreign owned companies include:

 

·                  the Companies Law (2013);

 

·                  the Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise Law (2000); and

 

·                  the Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise Law Implementing Rules (2001).

 

Under these regulations, wholly foreign owned companies in China may pay dividends only out of their accumulated profits, if any, as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, wholly foreign owned companies are required to set aside at least 10% of their respective accumulated profits each year, if any, to fund certain reserve funds, until the aggregate amount of these funds reaches 50% of the company’s registered capital. Wholly foreign owned companies may, at their discretion, allocate a portion of their after-tax profits based on PRC accounting standards to staff welfare and bonus funds. These reserve funds and staff welfare and bonus funds are not distributable as cash dividends.

 

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Regulations on Tax

 

PRC Enterprise Income Tax

 

The PRC enterprise income tax is calculated based on the taxable income determined under the applicable Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules. On March 16, 2007, the National People’s Congress of China enacted the New EIT Law, which became effective on January 1, 2008. On December 6, 2007, the State Council promulgated the implementation rules to the New EIT Law, which also became effective on January 1, 2008. On December 26, 2007, the State Council issued the Notice on Implementation of Enterprise Income Tax Transition Preferential Policy under the New EIT Law, or the Transition Preferential Policy Circular, which became effective simultaneously with the New EIT Law. The New EIT Law imposes a uniform enterprise income tax rate of 25% on all resident enterprises in China, including FIEs and domestic enterprises, unless they qualify for certain exceptions, and terminates most of the tax exemptions, reductions and preferential treatments available under the old Enterprise Income Tax Law and regulations. Under the New EIT Law and the Transition Preferential Policy Circular, qualified enterprises established before March 16, 2007 that already enjoyed preferential tax treatments will continue to enjoy them (i) in the case of preferential tax rates, for a maximum of five years starting from January 1, 2008 and during the five-year period, the tax rate will gradually increase from their current preferential tax rate to 25%, or (ii) in the case of preferential tax exemption or reduction for a specified term, until the expiration of such term. For enterprises that are not profitable enough to enjoy the preferential tax exemption or reduction referred to in (ii) above, the preferential duration shall commence from 2008.

 

Prior to the effectiveness of the New EIT Law on January 1, 2008, domestic companies were generally subject to an enterprise income tax at a statutory rate of 33%.

 

The New EIT Law and its implementation rules permit “high and new technology enterprises strongly supported by the state” holding independent ownership of core intellectual property and meeting certain other criteria, as stipulated in the implementation rules and other regulations, to enjoy a reduced enterprise income tax rate of 15%. The State Administration of Taxation, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Administrative Rules for the Certification of High and New Technology Enterprises delineating the specific criteria and procedures for the certification of “high and new technology enterprises” on April 14, 2008. The New EIT Law and its implementation rules also provide that “software enterprises” enjoy a two-year income tax exemption starting from the first profit making year, followed by a reduced tax rate of 12.5% for the subsequent three years.

 

Uncertainties exist with respect to how the New EIT Law applies to our tax residency status. Under the New EIT Law, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with “de facto management bodies” within the PRC is considered a “resident enterprise,” which means that it can be treated in a manner similar to a Chinese enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, although the dividends paid to one resident enterprise from another may qualify as “tax-exempt income.” Though the implementation rules of the New EIT Law define “de facto management bodies” as “establishments that carry out substantial and overall management and control over the manufacturing and business operations, personnel, accounting, properties, etc. of an enterprise,” the only detailed guidance currently available for the definition of “de facto management body” as well as the determination of an offshore incorporated PRC tax resident and its administration are set forth in Circular 82 and Bulletin No. 45 issued by the SAT, which provide guidance on the administration as well as determination of the tax residency status of a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise, defined as an enterprise that is incorporated under the law of a foreign country or territory and that has a PRC company or PRC corporate group as its primary controlling shareholder. Although we do not have a PRC enterprise or enterprise group as our primary controlling shareholder and are therefore not a Chinese- controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise within the meaning of Circular 82, in the absence of guidance specifically applicable to us, we have applied the guidance set forth in Circular 82 to evaluate the tax residency status of our legal entities organized outside the PRC.

 

According to Circular 82, a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its global income only if all of the following conditions set forth in Circular 82 are met:

 

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·                  the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in the PRC;

 

·                  decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC;

 

·                  the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals and board and shareholder resolutions are located or maintained in the PRC; and

 

·                  50% or more of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC.

 

In addition, Bulletin No. 45 provided clarification on the resident status determination, post-determination administration, and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a PRC resident determination certificate from a resident Chinese-controlled offshore- incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying certain PRC- sourced income such as dividends, interest and royalties to the Chinese-controlled offshore- incorporated enterprise.

 

Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.

 

We do not believe that we meet all of the conditions above. We are a company incorporated outside the PRC. As a holding company, our key assets and records, including the resolutions of our board of directors and the resolutions of their respective shareholders, are located and maintained outside the PRC. In addition, we are not aware of any offshore holding companies with a corporate structure similar to ours that has been deemed a PRC “resident enterprise” by the PRC tax authorities. Therefore, we believe that we should not be treated as a “resident enterprise” for PRC tax purposes if the criteria for “de facto management body” as set forth in the Circular 82 were deemed applicable to us. However, as the tax residency status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body” as applicable to our offshore entities, we will continue to monitor our tax status. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may be deemed a PRC resident enterprise under the New EIT Law and be subject to PRC taxation on our income.”

 

Although we believe we are not a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, substantial uncertainty regarding our status still exists. In the event that our company or our Hong Kong subsidiary is considered to be a PRC resident enterprise, (1) our company or our Hong Kong subsidiary would be subject to the PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on worldwide income; and (2) dividend income that our Hong Kong subsidiary receives from our PRC subsidiary, however, may be exempt from the PRC withholding tax since such income is exempted under the New EIT Law for PRC resident enterprise recipients. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may rely on dividends and other cash distributions on equity paid by our subsidiaries to fund future cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.”

 

Pursuant to the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or SAT Circular 698, issued by the State Administration of Taxation in 2009 with retroactive effect from January 1, 2008, if a non-resident enterprise transfers the equity interests of a PRC resident enterprise indirectly by disposing of the equity interests of an overseas holding company without a reasonable commercial purpose then it may be subject to PRC withholding tax at a rate of up to 10% from gains derived from this indirect transfer.

 

Although the SAT issued the Notice on Several Issues on the Administration of Enterprise Income Tax of Non-PRC Resident Enterprises in 2011, or SAT Circular 24, to provide further clarification on how SAT Circular 698 and its relevant provisions should be implemented, there remain uncertainties as to how “reasonable commercial purpose” is defined or determined or whether transactions conducted as part of an internal restructuring may be immune to re-characterization. On February 3, 2015, the SAT issued SAT Notice on the Collection of Corporate Income Tax by Indirect Transfer of Assets by Non-Resident Companies, or SAT Circular 7, which attempts to clarify the meaning of “reasonable commercial purpose” and abolishes certain clauses of both Circular 698 and Circular 24. SAT Circular 7 also expanded the concept of indirect transfer from equity interests to movable and immovable property in China and provides safe harbor rules for the public trading of shares in a listed company holding taxable China assets and for indirect transfers resulting from a corporate restructuring. Further, SAT Circular 7 replaces the compulsory reporting requirement set forth in SAT Circular 698 with a voluntary reporting regime. SAT Circular 7 provides that, where an indirect transfer occurs, both parties to the indirect transfer must submit the relevant documents to the competent tax authority for tax filing purposes, and enterprise income tax will be payable after the share transfer agreement comes into effect and the registration of the share transfers is completed. Indirect transfers occurring before SAT Circular 7 but for which tax matters have not been resolved will be governed by SAT Circular 7. SAT Circular 7 is new and there are still uncertainties as to its interpretation and implementation.  It brings challenges to both the foreign transferor and transferee of the indirect transfer as they are required to make self-assessment on whether the transaction should be subject to PRC tax and to file or withhold the PRC tax accordingly. Further, the PRC tax authorities have discretion under SAT Circular 698 and SAT  Circular 7 to make adjustments to the taxable capital gains based on the difference between the fair value of the equity interests transferred and the cost of investment.

 

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Value Added Tax

 

Our PRC subsidiary, VIEs and Shanghai Ouku are subject to value added tax, or VAT, at a rate of 17% on revenue from sale of products in the PRC and is entitled to a refund for VAT already paid or borne on the goods purchased by it and utilized in the production of goods that have generated gross sales proceeds.

 

Dividends Withholding Tax

 

Under the old Enterprise Income Tax Law effective prior to January 1, 2008, dividends paid to foreign investors by FIEs would be exempt from PRC withholding tax. We are a Cayman Islands holding company and substantially all of our income may come from dividends we receive from our subsidiary, Light In The Box Limited, a Hong Kong registered company and its PRC subsidiary and VIEs. Approximately 0.2% of our net revenues in 2014 was generated from sales via our websites and third-party online marketplace platforms targeting consumers in China. Pursuant to the New EIT Law and its implementation rules, dividends generated after January 1, 2008 and distributed to us by Lanting Jishi, our PRC subsidiary directly held by Light In The Box Limited, may be subject to withholding tax at a rate of up to 10%. Pursuant to the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement, dividends that Light in The Box Limited receives from Lanting Jishi may be subject to withholding tax at a rate of 5%, provided that the conditions and requirements under the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement have been satisfied, and subject to the assessment and approval of our relevant local tax authority.

 

Regulations on Offshore Investment by PRC Residents

 

On July 4, 2014, the SAFE promulgated the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control of Domestic Residents’ Overseas Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Offshore Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, which replaced the former Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for PRC Residents to Engage in Financing and Inbound Investment via Overseas Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 75, promulgated by the SAFE in 2005.

 

SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents to register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct establishment or indirect control of an offshore entity, for the purpose of overseas investment and financing, with such PRC residents’ legally owned assets or equity interests in domestic enterprises or offshore assets or interests, which is referred to in SAFE Circular 37 as a “special purpose vehicle.”  SAFE Circular 37 further requires amendment to the registration in the event of any significant changes with respect to the special purpose vehicle, such as an increase or decrease of capital contributed by PRC residents, share transfer or exchange, merger, division or other material events.  In the event that a PRC resident holding interests in a special purpose vehicle fails to complete the required SAFE registration, the PRC subsidiaries of that special purpose vehicle may be prohibited from making profit distributions to the offshore parent and from carrying out subsequent cross-border foreign exchange activities, and the special purpose vehicle may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital into its PRC subsidiaries.  Furthermore, failure to comply with the various SAFE registration requirements described above could result in liability under PRC law for evasion of foreign exchange controls. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC domestic residents and registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject our PRC resident beneficial owners or the plan participants to personal liability, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiary, limit our PRC subsidiary’s ability to increase its registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect us.”

 

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In addition, PRC subsidiaries of an offshore special purpose company are required to coordinate and supervise the filing of foreign exchange registrations by the offshore holding company’s shareholders who are PRC residents in a timely manner. If these shareholders fail to comply, the PRC subsidiaries of the offshore parent company may be prohibited from distributing their profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to their offshore parent company and the offshore parent company may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital into its PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with the above foreign exchange registration requirements could result in liabilities for such PRC subsidiaries under PRC laws for evasion of foreign exchange restrictions, including (i) requirement by the SAFE to return the foreign exchange remitted overseas within a period specified by the SAFE, with a fine of up to 30% of the total amount of foreign exchange remitted overseas and deemed evasive and (ii) in circumstances involving serious violations, a fine of no less than 30% of and up to the total amount of remitted foreign exchange deemed evasive. Furthermore, the persons-in-charge and other persons at such PRC subsidiaries who are held directly liable for the violations may be subject to administrative sanctions.

 

Regulations on Employee Stock Option Plans

 

In December 2006, the People’s Bank of China promulgated the Administrative Measures of Foreign Exchange Matters for Individuals, setting forth the respective requirements for foreign exchange transactions by individuals (both PRC and non-PRC citizens) under either the current account and the capital account. In January 2007, the SAFE issued implementing rules for the Administrative Measures of Foreign Exchange Matters for Individuals, which, among other things, specified the approval requirements for certain capital account transactions, such as a PRC citizen’s participation in employee stock ownership plans or share option plans of overseas listed companies. On March 28, 2007, the SAFE promulgated the Stock Option Rules. In February 2012, the SAFE promulgated the Stock Option Notice. This Stock Option Notice replaced the previous Stock Option Rules. The Stock Option Notice simplifies the requirements and procedures for the registration of stock incentive plan participant, especially in respect of the required application documents and the absence of strict requirements on offshore and onshore custodian banks, as were stipulated in the Stock Option Rules. The purpose of the Stock Option Notice is to regulate the foreign exchange administration of PRC resident individuals who participate in employee stock incentive plans of overseas listed companies.

 

According to the Stock Option Notice, if a PRC resident individual participates in stock incentive plans of an overseas listed company, which includes employee stock ownership plan share option plan and other incentive plans permitted by relevant laws and regulations, a PRC domestic qualified agent or the PRC subsidiary of such overseas listed company must, among other things, file, on behalf of such resident, an application with the SAFE or its local counterpart to obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with stock holding or share option exercises as PRC resident individuals may not directly use overseas funds to purchase shares or exercise share options. With the approval from the SAFE or its local counterpart, the PRC domestic qualified agent or the PRC subsidiary shall open a special foreign exchange account at a PRC domestic bank to hold the funds required in connection with the stock purchase or option exercise, any returned principal or profits upon sales of shares, any dividends issued on the stock and any other income or expenditures approved by the SAFE or its local counterpart. In addition, within three months after any substantial changes to any such stock incentive plan, including, for example, any changes due to a merger or acquisition or changes to the domestic or overseas custodian agent, the domestic agent must update the registration with SAFE.

 

Under the Foreign Currency Administration Rules (1996), as amended in 2008, the foreign exchange proceeds of domestic entities and individuals can be remitted into China or deposited abroad, subject to the terms and conditions to be issued by the SAFE. However, to date, the SAFE has not issued any implementing rules in respect of depositing the foreign exchange proceeds abroad. Currently, the foreign exchange proceeds from th sales of shares can be converted into Renminbi or transferred to such individuals’ foreign exchange savings account after the proceeds have been remitted back to the special foreign exchange account opened at the PRC domestic bank. If share options are exercised on a noncash basis, the PRC domestic individuals are required to remit the proceeds to special foreign exchange accounts.

 

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Furthermore, a notice concerning the individual income tax on earnings from employee stock options jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and the SAT, and its implementing rules, provide that domestic companies that implement employee share option programs shall (1) file the employee share option plans and other relevant documents to the local tax authorities having jurisdiction over them before implementing such employee share option plans; (2) file share option exercise notices and other relevant documents with the local tax authorities having jurisdiction over them before exercise by the employees of the share options and clarify whether the shares issuable under the employee share options mentioned in the notice are the shares of publicly listed companies; and (3) withhold taxes from the PRC employees in connection with the PRC individual income tax.

 

On October 27, 2008, our board of directors adopted the Amended and Reinstated 2008 Share Incentive Plan, pursuant to which we may issue employee stock options to our qualified employees and directors on a regular basis. We and our PRC employees who have participated in the Amended and Reinstated 2008 Share Incentive Plan are subject to the Stock Option Rules as our company is an overseas listed company. However, we cannot assure you that our PRC individual beneficiary owners and the stock options holders can successfully register with the SAFE in full compliance with Stock Option Rules. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC domestic residents and registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject our PRC resident beneficial owners or the plan participants to personal liability, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiary, limit our PRC subsidiary’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect us.”

 

Labor Laws and Social Insurance

 

Pursuant to the PRC Labor Law and the PRC Labor Contract Law, employers must execute written labor contracts with full-time employees in order to establish an employment relationship. All employers must compensate their employees equal to at least the local minimum wage standards. All employers are required to establish a system for labor safety and sanitation, strictly abide by state rules and standards and provide employees with appropriate workplace safety training. Violations of the PRC Labor Contract Law and the PRC Labor Law may result fines or other administrative sanctions or, in the case of serious violations, criminal liability.

 

In addition, employers in China are obliged to provide employees with welfare schemes covering pension insurance, unemployment insurance, maternity insurance, work-related injury insurance, medical insurance and housing funds.

 

Regulations on Overseas Listing

 

In 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies jointly adopted the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules. This rule requires that, if an overseas company established or controlled by PRC domestic companies or citizens intends to acquire equity interests or assets of any other PRC domestic company affiliated with the PRC domestic companies or citizens, such acquisition must be submitted to the Ministry of Commerce, rather than local regulators, for approval. In addition, this regulation requires that an overseas special purpose vehicle, or SPV, formed for overseas listing purposes and controlled by PRC companies or individuals, to obtain the approval of CSRC prior to publicly listing their securities on an overseas stock exchange.

 

While the application of the new regulations remain unclear, based on their understanding of current PRC laws, regulations and new procedures announced on September 21, 2006, our PRC counsel, TransAsia Lawyers, has advised us that:

 

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·                  the CSRC currently has not issued any definitive rule or interpretation concerning whether offerings like ours are subject to this regulation;

 

·                  we established our PRC subsidiary by means of direct investment other than by merger or acquisition of the equity or assets of PRC domestic companies; and

 

·                  no provision in this regulation clearly classified contractual arrangements as a type of transaction subject to its regulation.

 

See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Failure to obtain prior approval required under the M&A Rules and/or any other regulations promulgated by relevant PRC regulatory agencies in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations as well as the trading price of the ADSs.”

 

Regulations on Concentration in Merger and Acquisition Transactions

 

The M&A Rules also establish procedures and requirements that could make some merger and acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex. These rules require, among other things, that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor will take control of a PRC domestic enterprise or a foreign company with substantial PRC operations, if certain thresholds under the Provisions on Thresholds for Prior Notification of Concentrations of Undertakings issued by the State Council on August 3, 2008 are triggered.

 

According to the Implementing Rules Concerning Security Review on the Mergers and Acquisitions by Foreign Investors of Domestic Enterprises issued by the Ministry of Commerce in August 2011, mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors involved in an industry related to national security are subject to strict review by the Ministry of Commerce. These rules also prohibit any transactions attempting to bypass such security review, including controlling entities through contractual arrangements.

 

C.                                    Organizational Structure

 

The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure as of the date of this annual report:

 

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GRAPHIC

 


(1)         Such arrangements include exclusive technical and consulting service agreements, business operation agreements, equity disposal agreements, share pledge agreements, powers of attorney, spousal consent letters (applicable only to Lanting Huitong) and a loan agreement (applicable only to Lanting Gaochuang).

 

(2)         The shareholders of Shenzhen Lanting Huitong Technologies Co. Ltd. are Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen, our executive vice president and Mr. Liang Zhang, our director and executive vice president. In April 2014, one of our co-founders, Mr. Jun Liu has entered into an equity transfer agreement to transfer his shares of Lanting Huitong to Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang. We have completed the registration of this transfer with the local branch of the SAIC.

 

(3)         Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo holds the other 51% of the equity interest in Beijing Lanting Gaochuang Technologies Co., Ltd.

 

Contractual Arrangements Among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs and the Respective Shareholders of our VIEs

 

Foreign ownership of Internet-based businesses is subject to significant restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations. The PRC government regulates Internet access, the distribution of online information and the conduct of online commerce through strict business licensing requirements and other government regulations. We are a Cayman Islands company and our wholly owned PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi, is a wholly foreign owned enterprise and is restricted from holding the relevant licenses that are essential to the operations of our PRC business. Accordingly, we conduct the operation of our domestic websites in China primarily through Lanting Huitong, which we control through a series of contractual arrangements, and its subsidiary, Shanghai Ouku. The registered shareholders of Lanting Huitong are our directors and/or executive officers who hold our shares, including Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang. In April 2014, one of our co-founders, Mr. Jun Liu has entered into an equity transfer agreement to transfer his shares of Lanting Huitong to Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang.  We have completed the registration of this transfer with the local branch of the SAIC and Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Mr. Xin (Kevin) Wen and Mr. Liang Zhang currently hold 42.14%, 28.93% and 28.93% of the equity interests of Lanting Huitong, respectively.

 

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We conduct certain research and development functions through Lanting Gaochuang, which we control through similar contractual arrangements. Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo and Lanting Huitong hold 51% and 49% of Lanting Gaochuang, respectively. Lanting Gaochuang’s ownership structure enables it to join a special economic zone within the Wangjing Hi-Tech Industry Zone, the China Beijing Wangjing Overseas Students Pioneer Park, or the Wangjing Pioneer Park, which is reserved for domestic enterprises that are held by Chinese nationals who have previously studied overseas. As Lanting Gaochuang is majority-owned by Mr. Guo, a Chinese national who has studied overseas, Lanting Gaochuang enjoys certain benefits provided by the Wangjing Pioneer Park, which include reduced rents and other benefits aimed to encourage the development of technically innovative companies. In addition, Lanting Gaochuang was qualified as a “software enterprise” in 2012, 2013 and 2014 which entitles it to certain tax benefits. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Tax—PRC Enterprise Income Tax” for more information regarding tax benefits provided to “software enterprises.”

 

Through contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their respective shareholders, we receive substantially all of the economic benefits of our VIEs as their primary beneficiary. The financial results of our VIEs are consolidated into our financial statements despite the lack of our equity interest in them. We derived an aggregate of 1.4%, 0.1% and nil of our consolidated net revenues from Lanting Huitong and Shanghai Ouku in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. We have not derived any consolidated net revenues from Lanting Gaochuang since its inception in December 2011, and we do not expect to derive any significant contributions to our consolidated net revenues from Lanting Gaochuang going forward, if at all. We believe the consolidation is necessary to fairly present the financial position and results of operations of our company because of the existence of a parent-subsidiary relationship through contractual arrangements, which enables us to:

 

·                  exercise effective control over our VIEs;

 

·      receive substantially all of the economic benefits from our VIEs; and

 

·                  have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interest in our VIEs when and to the extent permitted by PRC law.

 

The following is a summary of the currently effective contractual arrangements among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs, and the shareholders of our VIEs:

 

Agreements that provide Lanting Jishi effective control over the VIEs

 

Powers of attorney:   Each registered shareholder of our VIEs has executed a power of attorney appointing Lanting Jishi to be his or her attorney, and irrevocably authorizing them to vote on his or her behalf on all of the matters concerning our VIEs that may require shareholders’ approval, including nominating and electing directors, general managers and other executive officers. The powers of attorney will be valid as long as the registered shareholders remain as shareholders of our VIEs.

 

Equity disposal agreements:   Under the Equity Disposal Agreements entered into among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs, and the shareholders of our VIEs, Lanting Jishi or its designated party has exclusive options to purchase, when and to the extent permitted under PRC law, all or part of the equity interest in our VIEs. The exercise price for the options to purchase all or part of the equity interest will be the minimum amount of consideration permissible under the then applicable PRC law. The agreements will be valid until Lanting Jishi or its designated party purchases all the shares from shareholders of our VIEs.

 

Spousal consent letters:   Under the spousal consent letters, the spouses of certain shareholders of Lanting Huitong acknowledged that a certain percentage of the equity interest in Lanting Huitong held by and registered in the name of their respective spouse will be disposed of pursuant to the equity disposal agreement and share pledge agreement. These spouses understand that such equity interest is held by their respective spouse on behalf of Lanting Jishi, and they will not take any action to interfere with the disposition of such equity interests, including, without limitation, claiming that such equity interest constitute communal property of marriage. The spousal consent letters will be valid until the liquidation of Lanting Huitong, unless terminated earlier at Lanting Jishi’s sole discretion.

 

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Loan agreement:   Under the loan agreement entered into in December 2011 between Lanting Jishi and Mr. Quji (Alan) Guo, Lanting Jishi extended a loan in the amount of RMB255,000 ($40,492) to Mr. Guo for his contribution of 51% of the registered capital of Lanting Gaochuang. Under this agreement, Mr. Guo agreed that without prior written consent from Lanting Jishi, Lanting Gaochuang may not enter into any transaction that could materially affect its assets, liabilities, interests or operations, and there will be no earnings distribution in any form by Lanting Gaochuang before such loan has been repaid. Mr. Guo also agreed that at the request of Lanting Jishi, all or part of the equity interests held in Lanting Gaochuang shall be promptly and unconditionally transferred to Lanting Jishi or a designated third party in accordance with PRC law. This loan can only be repaid by transferring all of Mr. Guo’s equity interest in Lanting Gaochuang to Lanting Jishi or a third party designated by Lanting Jishi, and submitting all proceeds from such transaction to Lanting Jishi. The loan agreement has a term of ten years and will be extended automatically, unless indicated otherwise by Lanting Jishi in writing three months prior to the expiration date.

 

Agreements that transfer economic benefits to Lanting Jishi

 

Business operation agreements:   Under the Business Operation Agreements entered into among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs, and the shareholders of our VIEs, the registered shareholders of our VIEs and our VIEs agreed that our VIEs may not enter into any transaction that could materially affect their assets, liabilities, interests or operations without prior written consent from Lanting Jishi or other party designated by Lanting Jishi, including entry into any loan or other debtor-creditor relationship with any third party or the making of any equity investment in any third party, the sale or purchase of any asset or right to or from any third party or creation of guarantees or any other security on any of its assets in favor of any third party, or creation of any other obligation on any of its assets. In addition, directors, supervisors, chairman, general managers, financial controllers or other senior managers of our VIEs must be Lanting Jishi’s nominees. Furthermore, our VIEs and their registered shareholders have agreed to accept and stringently implement proposals set forth by Lanting Jishi regarding employment and business and financial management. Lanting Jishi is entitled to any dividends declared by our VIEs. The business operation agreements will be valid until the liquidation of our VIEs, unless terminated earlier at Lanting Jishi’s sole discretion.

 

Exclusive technical support and consulting service agreements:   Under the Exclusive Technical Support and Consulting Service Agreements entered into between Lanting Jishi and our VIEs, Lanting Jishi agreed to provide our VIEs with technology support and consulting services, including the maintenance of computer rooms and websites, the provision of technology platforms required for operations, provision and maintenance of office networks, the conception, configuration, design, updating and maintenance of web pages, the maintenance of customer service platforms, employee training, advertisements, publicity and promotions, and provision of logistics support for product sales and services. Our VIEs agreed to pay a service fee equal to substantially all of their net income, an amount equivalent to the amount of the respective VIEs’ operating revenue for the then current quarter after the deduction of: (1) working capital necessary for the maintaining of the daily operations of the respective VIEs; and (2) the amount of cash required for the respective VIEs’ capital   expenditures. The exclusive technical support and consulting service agreements will be valid until the liquidation of our VIEs, unless terminated earlier at Lanting Jishi’s sole discretion.

 

Share pledge agreements:   Under the Share Pledge Agreements entered into among Lanting Jishi, our VIEs, and the shareholders of our VIEs, the registered shareholders of our VIEs pledged all of their respective equity interest in favor of Lanting Jishi to secure our VIEs and their shareholders’ obligations under the various contractual agreements, including the business operation agreements and the exclusive technical support and consulting service agreements described above. If our VIEs or any of their respective registered shareholders breach any of their respective contractual obligations under these agreements, Lanting Jishi, as pledgee, will be entitled to certain rights, including the right to sell the pledged equity interest. The registered shareholders of our VIEs agreed not to transfer, sell, pledge, dispose of or otherwise create any new encumbrance on their respective equity interest in our VIEs, without Lanting Jishi’s prior written consent. Unless terminated at Lanting Jishi’s sole discretion, the share pledge agreements will be valid until our VIEs and their shareholders fulfill all contractual obligations under the business operation agreements, the exclusive technical support and consulting service agreements and the equity disposal agreements. Our PRC counsel, TransAsia Lawyers, has advised us that the pledges on the equity interest of our VIEs were created and are effective as such pledges have already been registered with the relevant local branch of the SAIC in accordance with the PRC Property Rights Law.

 

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Arrangements between our Hong Kong subsidiary, Lanting Jishi and Lanting Huitong

 

Our Hong Kong subsidiary, Light In The Box Limited, and its PRC subsidiary, Lanting Jishi, have entered into and performed several business information and logistics services agreements, pursuant to which our Hong Kong subsidiary paid service fees to our PRC subsidiary for certain information and logistics services. In addition, our Hong Kong subsidiary and our VIE, Lanting Huitong, entered into and performed a consulting service agreement and several software development service agreements, pursuant to which our Hong Kong subsidiary paid service fees to Lanting Huitong for the consulting and software development services.

 

D.                                    Property, Plant and Equipment

 

We currently lease all properties for our operations. Our corporate headquarters are located in Beijing, China. We have established sourcing offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, Shanghai, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province and Yiwu, Zhejiang Province. In addition, we have an overseas office in Seattle, Washington in the United States. We maintain warehouses in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province and Shenzhen, Guangdong Province in China, and had established warehouses in Warsaw, Poland, Hong Kong and Reno, Nevada in the United States.  Our warehouse in Reno is currently in the initial trial operational phase. We have also established one photo studio in Beijing. The following table sets forth a summary of our leased properties as of the date of this annual report:

 

 

 

size

 

 

Location

 

(in square meters)

 

Usage of Property

Beijing

 

5,383

 

Office space, data center, sourcing office and photo studio

Shenzhen, Guangdong Province

 

29,930

 

Warehouses, sourcing office and office space

Suzhou, Jiangsu Province

 

20,413

 

Warehouse and sourcing office

Shanghai

 

1,000

 

Sourcing office and office space

Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

 

204

 

Sourcing office

Yiwu, Zhejiang Province

 

122

 

Sourcing office

Hong Kong

 

500

 

Warehouse

Warsaw, Poland

 

5,271

 

Warehouse

Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

32

 

Office space

Reno, Nevada, United States

 

2,415

 

Warehouse

Seattle, Washington, United States

 

604

 

Office space

 

We believe that our existing facilities are adequate for our current business operations and we will be able to enter into lease arrangements on commercially reasonable terms for future expansion.

 

ITEM 4A.                                       UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 5.                                                OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.

 

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A.                                    Operating Results

 

Overview

 

LightInTheBox is a global online retail company that delivers products directly to consumers around the world. We offer customers a convenient way to shop for a wide selection of products at attractive prices through www.lightinthebox.com, www.miniinthebox.com and our other websites as well as mobile applications, which are available in 27 major languages and cover more than 80.0% of Internet users globally, according to Internet World Stats. Our innovative data-driven business model allows us to offer customized products at scale through optimal merchandising, marketing and fulfillment. We have built an effective business model whereby we source many of our products directly from China-based manufacturers and we work closely with them to re-engineer their manufacturing processes to achieve faster time-to-market with a greater variety of products. We acquire customers primarily through the Internet and serve our customers primarily from our cost-effective locations in mainland China and Hong Kong.

 

Since the launch of www.lightinthebox.com in 2007, we have focused on offering products where consumers value increased choice or customization, such as apparel. In 2014, the sale of products from this core product category accounted for 36.2% of our net revenues. In addition, we also offered a wide range of other products. The products of our core categories generally require design specificity, thus giving us more pricing flexibility and allowing us to capture higher margin potentials. We will continue to focus on expanding our product selections and categories.

 

We have developed a large global customer base since we launched our first website. Our number of customers increased from approximately 2.5 million in 2012 to approximately 6.1 million in 2014.

 

We primarily operate our business from mainland China and Hong Kong but have delivered our products to consumers in over 200 countries and territories. In 2014, we derived 62.5% and 21.4% of our net revenues from Europe and North America, respectively. We established our first warehouse in 2008 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. In 2009 and 2013, we established two additional warehouses in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, respectively. In March 2014, July 2014 and January 2015, we established our overseas warehouses in Warsaw, Poland, Hong Kong and Reno, Nevada in the United States, respectively. We have also established six sourcing offices in China located near our suppliers. In addition, we have established LITB, Inc. to serve as our representative office in the United States for marketing and software development and technology support.  In September 2014, we have established LITB Netherlands B.V. to serve as our representative office in the Netherlands for marketing in Europe.

 

Our total net revenues grew from $200.0 million in 2012 to $382.4 million in 2014. We experienced a net loss of $4.2 million, $4.8 million and $30.0 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. We generated $7.4 million and $15.2 million in cash from operating activities in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and used cash in operating activities of $6.9 million in 2014.

 

In 2015, we will continue to invest for long-term growth. We expect to continue to expand our product selection and supplier network; broaden the geographical reach of our websites by enhancing our marketing efforts and promote repeat purchases by existing customers. We expect to enhance our physical infrastructure, especially our warehousing systems, including establishing warehouses in strategic locations. Furthermore, we will continue to invest in upgrading our technology and network infrastructure to handle increased traffic and improve our consumer shopping experience. We anticipate that we may continue to incur losses from operations and net losses in the near future as we grow our business, and it may be difficult for us to make accurate predictions of our future results of operations.  See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—We have incurred net losses since our inception and experienced negative cash flow from operating activities in the past.  We may continue to incur net losses and experience negative cash flow from operating activities and, as a result, we may need to obtain additional capital in the future” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry— Our limited operating history may make our growth and future prospects uncertain and difficult to evaluate.”

 

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Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

 

Our business and results of operations are affected by general factors affecting online retail markets around the world. Such factors include:

 

·                  the growth of the global economy and of our targeted geographic markets;

 

·                  per capita disposable income and consumer spending;

 

·                  growth of global Internet penetration and online retail;

 

·                  government policies and initiatives in our targeted geographic markets that affect online retail and, in particular, the import of products into their respective countries or regions; and

 

·                  overall global consumer perception of consumer goods exported from China.

 

Unfavorable changes in any of these general industry conditions could materially and adversely affect demand for our products and our results of operations. In addition, our operating results are affected by the following company-specific factors:

 

·                  our ability to acquire new customers and increase repeat purchases by customers at reasonable cost;

 

·                  our ability to control product sourcing costs, fulfillment and other operating expenses;

 

·                  our product selection and pricing;

 

·                  our ability to introduce new product offerings and categories;

 

·                  our ability to expand into new geographic markets;

 

·                  our ability to enhance our brand; and

 

·                  our ability to compete effectively.

 

Net Revenues

 

We generate revenues from the sale of products through our websites and other supplemental online outlets. Net revenues from the sale of products are recorded less business tax, discounts and allowances.

 

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, we generated net revenues of $200.0 million, $292.4 million and $382.4 million, respectively. The following table sets forth information of our net revenues by product category in absolute amounts and as percentages of net revenues for the periods presented.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Apparel

 

$

80,274

 

40.1

 

$

86,459

 

29.6

 

$

138,570

 

36.2

 

Other general merchandise (1) 

 

119,736

 

59.9

 

205,958

 

70.4

 

243,837

 

63.8

 

Total net revenues

 

200,010

 

100.0

 

292,417

 

100.0

 

382,407

 

100.0

 

 


(1)         Includes products such as small accessories and gadgets, home and garden, electronics and communication devices and others.

 

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Since our inception, we have primarily focused on selling apparel and electronics and communications devices. We expect to continue to focus on the growth in sales of apparel and expect that sales of apparel will continue to contribute considerably to our total net revenues in the near future. However, we have also expanded offerings of other products in particularly have increased our focus on small accessories and gadgets and home and garden. We expect our revenues to become more diversified in the future as we grow our business and increase our number of products.

 

We face seasonality for the sale of our products. For example, during the first quarter of the past several years, we experienced greater demand for our wedding dresses and, during the fourth quarter of the past several years, we experienced a general increase in the demand for our products as a result of holiday shopping.

 

Our products are sold to consumers in over 200 countries and territories. The following table breaks down our net revenues by geographic regions as determined by shipping addresses in absolute amounts and as percentages of net revenues for the periods presented.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Europe

 

$

101,424

 

50.7

 

$

182,958

 

62.5

 

$

239,176

 

62.5

 

North America

 

47,985

 

24.0

 

54,858

 

18.8

 

81,675

 

21.4

 

Other countries

 

50,601

 

25.3

 

54,601

 

18.7

 

61,556

 

16.1

 

Total net revenues

 

200,010

 

100.0

 

292,417

 

100.0

 

382,407

 

100.0

 

 

We have made our websites easily accessible by users on their mobile devices.  We have also launched our mobile apps to enhance the mobile shopping experience of our users.  As the number of customers making purchases through our mobile apps continues to increase, our mobile revenue increased to 26.8% of total net revenues in 2014, compared with 17.8% in 2013.

 

We expect our net revenues to grow in the future as we continue to introduce new products and deepen our penetration of various geographic markets around the world. We also expect to expand our customer base and increase sales to each customer to drive our growth.

 

Operating Metrics

 

We regularly review a number of operating metrics, including the following, to evaluate our performance, identify trends affecting our business, formulate financial projections and make certain strategic decisions: (i) our number of customers, (ii) revenue attributed to repeat customers, (iii) revenue attributed to new customers and (iv) the growth in revenue attributed to repeat customers. The following table sets forth the above metrics for the periods indicated.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands, unless otherwise stated)

 

Our number of customers

 

2,479

 

4,291

 

6,113

 

Revenue attributed to repeat customers

 

49,384

 

98,307

 

153,862

 

Revenue attributed to new customers

 

150,626

 

194,110

 

228,545

 

Growth in revenue attributed to repeat customers(1)  (percentage)

 

136.4

 

99.1

 

56.5

 

 

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(1)         “Growth in revenue attributed to repeat customers” refers to, in percentage, the difference between (i) revenue attributed to repeat customers for a given period and (ii) revenue attributed to repeat customers for the prior period, divided by revenue attributed to repeat customers from such prior period.

 

The number of repeat and new customers we sold products to has increased substantially in the last few years, which, in turn, increased our net revenues. By serving a larger number of repeat and new customers, we also deepened our understanding of online purchasing and browsing, developing insights into product presentations, promotions and other features based on our customer and order histories and statistics.

 

Our revenue attributed to repeat customers has also similarly increased during the past few years. As we have continued to increase our product offerings, we have experienced increase in repeat purchases by our customers. In addition, we have also increased our focus in capitalizing our existing customer base by focusing our remarketing efforts for such customers.

 

Cost of Goods Sold and Operating Expenses

 

The following table sets forth our cost of goods sold and operating expenses, both in absolute amounts and as percentages of net revenues for the periods indicated.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Cost of goods sold

 

$

116,465

 

58.2

 

$

165,267

 

56.5

 

$

237,095

 

62.0

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulfillment

 

10,088

 

5.1

 

15,963

 

5.5

 

23,926

 

6.3

 

Selling and marketing

 

53,418

 

26.7

 

84,245

 

28.8

 

105,186

 

27.5

 

General and administrative

 

22,369

 

11.2

 

31,929

 

10.9

 

46,916

 

12.3

 

Total operating expenses

 

85,875

 

43.0

 

132,137

 

45.2

 

176,028

 

46.1

 

 

Cost of Goods Sold

 

Our cost of goods sold consists primarily of cost of consumer products sold by us and shipping charges, and to a much lesser degree, packaging supplies and inventory write-downs. We write down the cost of slow-moving and broken inventory to the estimated market value based on historical trends for such inventory, inventory aging and historical and forecasted consumer demand and such write-down is recorded as part of cost of goods sold. Shipping charges to receive products from our suppliers are included as inventory and recognized as cost of goods sold upon the sale of such products. Our cost of goods sold as percentage of our net revenues during a specific period is affected by the composition of the type of products sold during that period.

 

Operating Expenses

 

Fulfillment Expenses.  Fulfillment expenses include costs incurred in operating and staffing our warehouses and customer service centers, including (i) costs attributable to buying, receiving, inspecting and warehousing inventories, (ii) picking, packaging, and preparing customer orders for shipment and (iii) payment processing and related transaction costs. Our fulfillment expenses are primarily affected by the cost of personnel at our warehouses and our ability to strengthen our logistic management capabilities and increase our economies of scale as our volume of products shipped increases. As we expanded our warehouse network to accommodate increase in purchase orders and provide better coverage of our target markets, our fulfillment expenses increased in absolute amount and as a percentage of our net revenues. However, we expect that as our business continues to grow and as we achieve economies of scale, our fulfilment cost as a percentage of our net revenues will decrease in the future.

 

Selling and Marketing Expenses.   Selling and marketing expenses include marketing program expenses and marketing personnel expenses. Marketing program expenses are comprised of targeted online marketing expenses, such as search engine marketing, display advertising and affiliate marketing program expenses. Marketing personnel expenses are comprised of payroll and related expenses for personnel engaged in selling, marketing and business development, including the execution of search engine optimization and social viral marketing activities. The fluctuation of selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of our net revenues relates to our business expansion into and the testing of new geographic markets, product categories, marketing channels and promotional activities. In the near term, we expect to focus our selling and marketing efforts on growing our customer base, but we expect our selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of our net revenues to continue to decrease in the long term as we achieve economies of scale and utilize our selling and marketing channels more efficiently.

 

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General and Administrative Expenses.   General and administrative expenses include payroll-related expenses and travel-related expenses for personnel engaged in accounting, finance, tax, legal, human resources and other general corporate functions, as well as costs related to the use of facilities and equipment by these personnel, such as depreciation expenses and rent, professional fees and other general corporate costs. General and administrative expenses also include technology development and related expenses, including payroll-related expenses. In addition, general and administrative expenses include credit losses relating to fraudulent credit card activities which resulted in chargebacks from payment processing agencies. We expect our general and administrative expenses as a percentage of our net revenues to decrease in the future as we achieve economies of scale.

 

Share-based Compensation Expenses

 

The table below shows the effect of the share-based compensation expenses on our operating expense line items for the periods indicated.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Fulfillment

 

$

10

 

 

$

9

 

 

$

46

 

 

Selling and marketing

 

117

 

0.1

 

134

 

0. 1

 

231

 

0.1

 

General and administrative

 

2,568

 

1.3

 

4,175

 

1.4

 

2,241

 

0.6

 

Total share-based compensation expenses

 

2,695

 

1.4

 

4,318

 

1.5

 

2,518

 

0.7

 

 

We expect to continue to grant share options, restricted shares and other share-based awards under our share incentive plan and incur further share-based compensation expenses in future periods.

 

Taxation

 

Cayman Islands

 

We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Under the current law of the Cayman Islands, we are not subject to income or capital gains tax in the Cayman Islands. In addition, our payment of dividends, if any, is not subject to withholding tax in the Cayman Islands.

 

Hong Kong

 

Our wholly owned subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Light In The Box Limited and Lanting International, are subject to the uniform profit tax rate of 16.5% in Hong Kong. Under the Hong Kong tax laws, each of Light In The Box Limited and Lanting International is exempted from the Hong Kong income tax on its foreign-derived income and there are no withholding taxes in Hong Kong on remittance of dividends.

 

PRC

 

Our subsidiary and VIE in China are companies incorporated under PRC law and, as such, are subject to PRC enterprise income tax on their taxable income in accordance with the relevant PRC income tax laws.

 

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Under the New EIT Law and its implementation rules, both of which became effective on January 1, 2008, a uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate is generally applicable to both foreign- invested enterprises and domestic enterprises, unless they qualify for certain exceptions.

 

Lanting Huitong, which was qualified as a “software enterprise” in 2010 and in 2014, is entitled to enjoy a two-year income tax exemption starting from its first year of profitability, such as in 2010, followed by a reduced tax rate of 12.5% for the subsequent three years. During the year of 2010, Lanting Huitong paid $0.6 million to tax authorities based on its preliminary management accounts. We did not expect to recover the tax paid or receive a tax benefit in the coming years, therefore, the amount was written off and recorded as income tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2010. Lanting Gaochuang, which was qualified as a “software enterprise” in 2012, 2013 and 2014, is entitled to enjoy a two-year income tax exemption starting from its first year of profitability, followed by a reduced tax rate of 12.5% for the subsequent three years.,

 

Under the New EIT Law and its implementation rules, dividends from our PRC subsidiary paid out of profits generated after January 1, 2008, are subject to a withholding tax of 20%, although under the detailed implementation rules to the New EIT Law promulgated by the PRC State Council, the withholding tax rate is 10%, unless there is a tax treaty with China that provides for a different withholding arrangement. Distributions of profits generated before January 1, 2008 are exempt from PRC withholding tax. Pursuant to the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement, dividends that Light in The Box Limited receives from Lanting Jishi may be subject to withholding tax at a rate of 5%, provided that the conditions and requirements under the Double Taxation Avoidance Arrangement have been satisfied, and subject to the assessment and approval of our relevant local tax authority.

 

Under the New EIT Law, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with “de facto management bodies” within the PRC is considered a resident enterprise and will be subject to the enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its global income. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management bodies” as “establishments that carry out substantial and overall management and control over the manufacturing and business operations, personnel, accounting, properties, etc. of an enterprise.” The SAT issued the Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese—Controlled Offshore Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprises on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies, or Circular 82, on April 22, 2009. Circular 82 provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a Chinese-controlled offshore- incorporated enterprise is located in China. Further to Circular 82, on July 27, 2011, the SAT issued Bulletin No. 45 to provide more guidance on the implementation of Circular 82, which took effect on September 1, 2011. Bulletin No. 45 provides clarification on the resident status determination, post-determination administration, and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a Chinese tax resident determination certificate from a resident Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying certain Chinese-sourced income such as dividends, interest and royalties to the Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise. Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals. Although we do not believe that our legal entities organized outside of the PRC constitute PRC resident enterprises, it is possible that the PRC tax authorities could reach a different conclusion. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may be deemed a PRC resident enterprise under the New EIT Law and be subject to PRC taxation on our income.”

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

We prepare our financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP, which requires us to make judgments, estimates and assumptions. We continually evaluate these estimates and assumptions based on the most recently available information, our own historical experience and various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. Since the use of estimates is an integral component of the financial reporting process, actual results could differ from our expectations as a result of changes in our estimates.

 

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An accounting policy is considered critical if it requires an accounting estimate to be made based on assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain at the time such estimate is made and if different accounting estimates that reasonably could have been used, or changes in the accounting estimates that are reasonably likely to occur, could materially impact the consolidated financial statements. We believe that the following accounting policies involve a higher degree of judgment and complexity in their application and require us to make significant accounting estimates. The following descriptions of critical accounting policies, judgments and estimates should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and other disclosures included in this annual report.

 

Revenue Recognition

 

We make sales through our websites and supplemental online outlets and we recognize revenues from product sales when the following four revenue recognition criteria are met: persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, products are delivered and received by the customer, the price to the customer is fixed or determinable and collectability is reasonably assured.

 

Most of our customers are required to make online payments using their credit cards, debit cards or through third party payment platforms, such as PayPal and Global Collect, when they place purchase orders on our websites. We record the payments as advances from customers on the balance sheet when received. We then utilize delivery service providers, primarily express courier companies, to deliver our products to our customers. Shipping and handling charges to the customers are included in revenues, and our corresponding shipping costs are included in cost of goods sold. We recognize the amounts advanced from customers as revenues at the time the end customers receive the products, which is typically within a few days of shipment.

 

Customers in China can also choose to pay upon the receipt of our products, which is called the cash on delivery, or COD, model. In the COD model, our delivery service providers collect the payments from our customers for us. We record an accounts receivable on the balance sheet when our customers receive their products from our delivery service providers.

 

We allow customers to return certain goods within a period of time subsequent to the delivery of the goods. The return period varies depending on the product category and reasons for the return, which normally is 30 days. We estimate return allowances based on product categories and historical experience. The estimation of return allowances is adjusted to the extent that actual returns differ, or are expected to differ. Changes in estimated return allowances are recognized through a cumulative catch-up adjustment in the period of change and will impact the amount of net revenues in that period. We estimated that approximately 0.7%, 2.0% and 2.9% of our sales in December 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, would be returned and made provisions accordingly.

 

We voluntarily provide discount coupons as sales incentives to potential customers from time to time. These coupons can only be utilized in conjunction with a subsequent purchase and are recorded as a reduction of revenues at the time of use. We also provide discount reward, which may only be used in the future, to customers who have made a current purchase. As the right of receiving future discount does not represent a significant and incremental discount to the customer, the discount is treated as a reduction of revenue when the future transaction takes place.

 

Promotional items or free products, which cannot be redeemed for cash and always shipped together with current qualified sales. The cost of these promotional items or free products are recorded as cost of sales when the revenue of the current qualified sales is recognized.

 

We established a membership program for certain of our website whereby a registered member earned certain points for visiting www.ouku.com . Points could only be redeemed in connection with a future purchase based on a defined ratio of 100 points to RMB1.00. Such points were charged as costs of sales at the later of when the incentive was offered and when the related revenue was recognized. Since the points earned were not based on past sales transactions, no accrual was made at the time when earned by the registered members. This program had been terminated since February 2013.

 

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Certain of our employees register with supplemental online outlets under their own name, as these websites require registration using the identity cards of individuals to sell our products on our behalf. We have contractual arrangements with these employees that require them to transfer payments received for the sale of the products to us. We evaluate the sales transactions performed by certain employees on our behalf to determine whether to recognize the revenues on a gross or net basis. The determination is based upon an assessment as to whether we act as a principal or agent when selling the products. All revenues involving employees performing sales transactions on the supplemental online outlets on our behalf are currently accounted for on a gross basis since we are the primary obligor and have general and physical inventory risk, latitude in establishing prices, discretion in supplier selection and the credit risks.

 

We entered into arrangements with certain suppliers, under which the suppliers store their products at our premises. We record these products as inventory when all liabilities and rights of ownership of the products are passed on to us upon the confirmation of orders by our customers. All of the revenues involving these arrangements are accounted for on a gross basis since we are the primary obligor, have physical inventory risk, retain latitude in establishing prices, exercise discretion in supplier selection and are exposed to credit risks.

 

Inventories

 

Inventories, consisting of products available for sale, are primarily accounted for using the first-in first-out method and are valued at the lower of cost or market value. We maintain low levels of inventories by adopting a frequent procurement strategy with short refill cycles from suppliers. Therefore, our obsolete inventory has been insignificant. In estimating the level of inventory provision, we consider the nature of each category of our inventory, inventory aging, and historical and forecasted consumer demand. This valuation also requires us to make judgments, based on currently-available information, about the likely method of disposition, such as through sales to individual customers, returns to product vendors, or liquidations, and expected recoverable values of each disposition category. These assumptions about future disposition of inventory are inherently uncertain.

 

Share-based Compensation

 

Our share-based payment transactions with employees are measured based on the grant date fair value of the equity instrument and recognized as compensation expense over the requisite service period based on the straight-line method, with a corresponding impact reflected in additional paid-in capital.

 

In determining the fair value of share options, we have used the binomial option pricing model, with assistance from ValueLink Management Consultants Limited. Under this option pricing model, certain assumptions required in order to determine the fair value of our options, including the risk-free interest rate, the exercise multiple, the expected dividends on the underlying ordinary shares, the fair value of the underlying ordinary shares, and the expected volatility of the price of the underlying ordinary shares for the period before the valuation dates with lengths equal to the contractual term of the options. Risk-free interest rate is estimated based on the yield to maturity of China international government bonds with a maturity period close to the contractual term of the options. Exercise multiple represents the value of the underlying share as a multiple of exercise price of the option which, if achieved, results in exercise of the option. Dividend yield is estimated by us based on its expected dividend policy over the contractual term of the options. Volatility of the underlying ordinary shares during the life of the options is estimated based on the historical stock price volatility of comparable listed companies over a period comparable to the contractual term of the options.  Prior to the completion of our IPO, the estimated fair value of the ordinary shares underlying the options as of the respective grant dates was determined based on retrospective valuations. When estimating the fair value of the ordinary shares on the grant dates, we considered a number of factors, including the result of the third-party appraisals prepared by independent valuation firms, and our equity transactions. After our IPO, the fair value of the underlying ordinary shares is estimated based on the closing market price of ADS as of the grant date. Changes in these assumptions could significantly affect the fair value of share options and hence the amount of compensation expense we recognize in our consolidated financial statements.

 

The fair value of nonvested shares as of the grant date is estimated based on the fair value of our ordinary shares.

 

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Income Taxes

 

In preparing our consolidated financial statements, we must estimate our income taxes in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate. We estimate our actual tax exposure and assess temporary differences resulting from different treatment of items for tax and accounting purposes. These differences result in deferred tax assets and liabilities, which we include in our consolidated balance sheet. We must then assess the likelihood that we will recover our deferred tax assets from future taxable income. If we believe that recovery is not likely, we must establish a valuation allowance. To the extent we establish a valuation allowance or increase this allowance, we must include an expense within the tax provision in our consolidated statement of operations.

 

Management must exercise significant judgment to determine our provision for income taxes, our deferred tax assets and liabilities and any valuation allowance recorded against our net deferred tax assets. We base the valuation allowance on our estimates of taxable income in each jurisdiction in which we operate and the period over which our deferred tax assets will be recoverable. If actual results differ from these estimates or we adjust these estimates in future periods, we may need to establish an additional valuation allowance, which could materially impact our financial position and results of operations.

 

U.S. GAAP requires that an entity recognize the impact of an uncertain income tax position on the income tax return at the largest amount that is more likely than not to be sustained upon audit by the relevant tax authority. If we ultimately determine that payment of these liabilities will be unnecessary, we will reverse the liability and recognize a tax benefit during that period. Conversely, we record additional tax charges in a period in which we determine that a recorded tax liability is less than the expected ultimate assessment. We did not recognize any significant unrecognized tax benefits during the periods presented in this annual report.

 

Uncertainties exist with respect to the application of the New EIT Law and its implementation rules to our operations, specifically with respect to our tax residency status. The New EIT Law specifies that legal entities organized outside of the PRC will be considered residents for PRC income tax purposes if their “de facto management bodies” are located within the PRC. The New EIT Law’s implementation rules define the term “de facto management bodies” as establishments that carry out substantial and overall management and control over the manufacturing and business operations, personnel, accounting, properties, etc. of an enterprise. On April 22, 2009, the Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese-Controlled Offshore Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprises on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies, or Circular 82, was issued. Circular 82 provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise is located in China. Further the Administrative Measures of Enterprise Income Tax of Chinese controlled Offshore Incorporated Resident Enterprises (Trial), or Bulletin No. 45, took effect on September 1, 2011, and provides more guidance on the implementation of Circular 82. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Tax—PRC Enterprise Income Tax.”

 

According to Circular 82, a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having a “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its worldwide income only if all of the following conditions set forth in Circular 82 are met: (i) the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals and board and shareholder resolutions are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC. In addition, Bulletin No. 45 provides clarification in resident status determination, post-determination administration and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a Chinese tax resident determination certificate from a resident Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying certain Chinese-sourced income such as dividends, interest and royalties to the Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise.

 

Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.

 

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Despite the uncertainties resulting from limited PRC tax guidance on the issue, we do not believe that our legal entities organized outside of the PRC are tax residents under the New EIT Law. If one or more of our legal entities organized outside of the PRC were characterized as PRC tax residents, our results of operations would be materially and adversely affected. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Tax—PRC Enterprise Income Tax.”

 

Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012

 

Section 107(b) of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 provides that an “emerging growth company” can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an “emerging growth company” can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to take advantage of the extended transition period. Although as of the date of this annual report, we have not delayed the adoption of any accounting standard, as a result of this election, our future financial statements may not be comparable to other public companies that comply with the public company effective dates for new or revised accounting standards.

 

Results of Operations

 

The following table sets forth a summary of our consolidated results of operations for the periods indicated. This information should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. The results of operations in any period are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future period.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Net revenues

 

$

200,010

 

100.0

 

$

292,417

 

100.0

 

$

382,407

 

100.0

 

Cost of goods sold

 

116,465

 

58.2

 

165,267

 

56.5

 

237,095

 

62.0

 

Gross profit

 

83,545

 

41.8

 

127,150

 

43.5

 

145,312

 

38.0

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulfillment

 

10,088

 

5.1

 

15,963

 

5.5

 

23,926

 

6.3

 

Selling and marketing

 

53,418

 

26.7

 

84,245

 

28.8

 

105,186

 

27.5

 

General and administrative

 

22,369

 

11.2

 

31,929

 

10.9

 

46,916

 

12.3

 

Total operating expenses

 

85,875

 

43.0

 

132,137

 

45.2

 

176,028

 

46.1

 

Loss from operations

 

(2,330

)

(1.2

)

(4,987

)

(1.7

)

(30,716

)

(8.0

)

Interest (expense) income and other

 

(1,881

)

(0.9

)

237

 

0.1

 

2,355

 

0.6

 

Exchange loss on offshore bank accounts

 

 

 

 

 

(1,556

)

(0.4

)

Loss before income taxes

 

(4,211

)

(2.1

)

(4,750

)

(1.6

)

(29,917

)

(7.8

)

Income taxes expenses

 

(19

)

(0.0

)

(69

)

(0.0

)

(70

)

(0.0

)

Net loss

 

(4,230

)

(2.1

)

(4,819

)

(1.6

)

29,987

 

7.8

 

 

The following table sets forth information of our net revenues by product category in absolute amounts and as percentages of net revenues for the periods presented.

 

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Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(U.S. dollars in thousands, except percentage)

 

 

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

 

 

% of Net
Revenues

 

Apparel

 

$

80,274

 

40.1

 

$

86,459

 

29.6

 

$

138,570

 

36.2

 

Other general merchandise (1)

 

119,736

 

59.9

 

205,958

 

70.4

 

243,837

 

63.8

 

Total net revenues

 

200,010

 

100.0

 

292,417

 

100.0

 

382,407

 

100.0

 

 


(1)         Includes products such as small accessories and gadgets, home and garden, electronics and communication devices and others.

 

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2012, 2013 and 2014

 

Net Revenues

 

Our net revenues in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $200.0 million, $292.4 million and $382.4 million, respectively, reflecting an increase of 46.2% from 2012 to 2013 and 30.8% from 2013 to 2014. Our net revenue growth was due to an increase in our sales orders resulting from increases in our new and repeat customers. Our total number of orders in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was approximately 3.3 million, 6.4 million and 9.7 million, respectively, reflecting an increase of 96.6% from 2012 to 2013 and 51.6% from 2013 to 2014.  Our number of customers in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was approximately 2.5 million, 4.3 million and 6.1 million, respectively, reflecting an increase of 72.0% from 2012 to 2013 and 41.9% from 2013 to 2014. Growth in our net revenues was also attributable to an increase in repeat customer purchases.

 

The increase in our net revenue as a result of increased sales orders was partially offset by a decrease in our unit price per order.  Our unit price per order during the same periods decreased from approximately $61.4 in 2012 to $45.7 in 2013 and further to $39.4 in 2014, reflecting a decrease of 25.6% from 2012 to 2013 and 13.7% from 2013 to 2014 due to changes in our product mix.

 

We have increased our product listings to offer more variety and choices to our customers, which has allowed us to capture additional customer demand and increase our number of customers. We have increased the number of product listings in each of our existing product categories. As of December 31, 2012, 2013 and 2014, we had more than 205,000, 520,000 and 764,000 product listings, respectively, reflecting an increase of approximately 153.7% from 2012 to 2013 and approximately 46.9% from 2013 to 2014.

 

We have also increased our customer base by increasing our penetration of various geographic markets. We have initially focused on the North American market prior to 2010 but have since expanded our marketing efforts to increase the sale of our products to customers in Europe and other parts of the world. In each of 2012, 2013 and 2014, Europe represented the largest region in which our products were sold.

 

Cost of Goods Sold

 

Our cost of goods sold in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $116.5 million, $165.3 million and $237.1 million, respectively, representing an increase of 41.9% from 2012 to 2013 and 43.4% from 2013 to 2014. These increases were primarily due to the continued growth of our business and increases in both product sales and shipping charges. Our product costs and other associated charges in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $75.8 million, $101.4 million and $142.6 million, respectively, representing an increase of 33.0% from 2012 to 2013 and 40.6% from 2013 to 2014.  Our shipping charges in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $40.7 million, $63.9 million and $94.5 million, respectively, representing an increase of 57.0% from 2012 to 2013 and 47.9% from 2013 to 2014.

 

Our cost of goods sold as a percentage of our net revenues was 58.2%, 56.5% and 62.0% in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. Decrease in cost of goods sold as a percentage of our net revenues from 2012 to 2013 was due to changes in our product mix as we increased our focus on the sale of higher margin products such as small accessories and gadgets.  As a result, product costs and other associated charges as a percentage of our net revenues decreased from 37.9% in 2012 to 34.6% in 2013. Increase in cost of goods sold as a percentage of our net revenues from 2013 to 2014 was due to changes in our product mix with an increase in sale of products such as fast fashion, the margin of which are generally lower than that of small accessories and gadgets. As a result, product costs and other associated charges as a percentage of our net revenues increased from 34.6% in 2013 to 37.3% in 2014.

 

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Gross Profit

 

As a result of the foregoing, our gross profits in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $83.5 million, $127.2 million and $145.3 million, respectively, reflecting an increase of 52.3% from 2012 to 2013 and 14.2% from 2013 to 2014. Our gross margins in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 41.8%, 43.5% and 38.0%, respectively.

 

Fulfillment Expenses

 

Our fulfillment expenses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $10.1 million, $16.0 million and $23.9 million, respectively. Fulfillment expenses as a percentage of our net revenues in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 5.1%, 5.5% and 6.3%, respectively.

 

The increase in our fulfillment expenses as a percentage of our net revenues from 2012 to 2013 was primarily due to the increase in fulfillment personnel compensation and payment processing costs associated with our expansion of fulfillment facilities in China. The increase in our fulfillment expenses as a percentage of our net revenues from 2013 to 2014 was due to the increase in fulfillment personnel compensation and payment processing costs associated with our expansion of overseas fulfillment facilities in Warsaw, Poland and Hong Kong.

 

Selling and Marketing Expenses

 

Our selling and marketing expenses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $53.4 million, $84.2 million and $105.2 million, respectively.

 

Selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of our net revenues in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 26.7%, 28.8% and 27.5%, respectively. The increase in our selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of our net revenues from 2012 to 2013 was primarily due to changes in our product mix resulting in greater marketing efforts to expand our user base and enhance our brand recognition in other general merchandise category. The decrease in our selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of our net revenues from 2013 to 2014 was primarily due to our continued capability of optimizing online marketing platforms and diversify traffic acquisition channels.

 

General and Administrative Expenses

 

Our general and administrative expenses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $22.4 million, $31.9 million and $46.9 million, respectively, reflecting an increase of 42.4% from 2012 to 2013 and 47.0% from 2013 to 2014. These increases were primarily due to an increase in the number of our general and administrative personnel and an increase in the level of average compensation and benefits paid. Share-based compensation expenses included in general and administrative expenses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $2.6 million, $4.2 million and $2.2 million, respectively.

 

General and administrative expenses as a percentage of our net revenues in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 11.2%, 10.9% and 12.3%, respectively. The decrease in general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net revenues from 2012 to 2013 was primarily due to greater economies of scale, partially offset by an increase in the number of our general and administrative personnel and an increase in average compensation and benefits paid. The increase in general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net revenues from 2013 to 2014 was primarily due to our increased investments on technologies.

 

Loss from Operations

 

As a result of the foregoing, our losses from operations in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $2.3 million, $5.0 million and $30.7 million, respectively.

 

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Interest (Expense)Income and Other

 

Our interest expenses and other in 2012 was $1.9 million, which primarily included the amortization of debt discount incurred of $1.1 million and interest expense of $0.7 million related to our convertible notes issued in March 2012.  Our interest income and other was $0.2 million and $2.4 million in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Interest income and other in 2013 was primarily due to an increase in bank deposit following our receipt of the proceeds from our initial public offering in June 2013, offset by the amortization of debt discount incurred of $1.0 million and interest expense of $0.4 million related to our convertible notes issued in March 2012.  Interest income and other increased in 2014 due to an increase in our average bank deposits.

 

Exchange Loss on Offshore Bank Accounts

 

We recorded exchange loss on offshore bank accounts of $1.6 million in 2014. Such exchange loss was due to the appreciation in 2014 of our reporting currency, U.S. dollar, against other major world currencies that our customers used in purchasing our products.

 

Income Taxes Expenses

 

Our income taxes expenses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $19,000, $69,000 and $70,000, respectively.

 

Net Loss

 

As a result of the foregoing, our net losses in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were $4.2 million, $4.8 million and $30.0 million, respectively.

 

B.                                    Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Cash Flow and Working Capital

 

To date, we have financed our operations primarily through the proceeds from the issuance of our preferred shares and convertible notes and the net proceeds of our initial public offering, as well as cash flow generated from operations. As of December 31, 2014, we had approximately $83.4 million in cash and cash equivalents, term deposit and restricted cash. In March 2012, we issued convertible notes with an aggregate principal amount of $8.0 million, which were automatically converted into 2,224,610 ordinary shares upon the completion of our initial public offering. In June 2013, we completed our initial public offering, in which we offered and sold 19,090,000 ordinary shares in the form of ADSs, raising $75.0 million in proceeds before expenses to us.

 

We believe the cash we received from our initial public offerings and the anticipated cash flow from operations will provide us with sufficient capital to meet the expenses and other expenditures required for our business operations for the 12 months from December 31, 2014. In the event that our operating expenses or other expenditures exceed our working capital, we may seek to issue debt or equity securities or obtain credit facilities. Any issuance of equity securities could cause dilution for our shareholders. Any incurrence of indebtedness could increase our debt service obligations and subject us to restrictive operating and financial covenants. Additionally, financing may not be available to us in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

 

The following table sets forth a summary of our cash flows for the periods indicated:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013