In the first part of a six-week series featuring SMEs that have taken steps to build their capabilities or venture into new markets with Spring Singapore’s support, Gregory Leow speaks to Skin Inc on growing its business.
The Straits Times
August 5, 2015
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SINCE 2007, Skin Inc has been on an upward spiral, initially adding concept stores and then expanding regionally. The homegrown company now has 12 distribution points and over 120 stores internationally across 69 cities including Spain, USA and Thailand.
But just 18 months ago, Skin Inc was still seeking ways to improve how it reached out to its online customers.
Customers accessed Skin Inc’s website on their smartphones but the website was not customised to be mobile-friendly yet, explains Ms Sabrina Tan, its founder and chief executive officer.
She also felt that the essence of what Skin Inc is about — customised and simplified skincare — was not prominently displayed on its website. The 41-year-old entrepreneur had built the skincare company to provide customised fuss-free serums for individuals instead of mass-market solutions.
By filling that vacuum, Skin Inc has grown by about 300 per cent year-on-year since its beginnings.
To highlight its presence in the online market, Skin Inc turned to Spring Singapore for help. With assistance from the Capability Development Grant (CDG), the company embarked on a website revamp last year, which included e-commerce features and a more robust social media strategy.
Rolled out last September, the new website boasts enhancements like social media plugins and a more dynamic interface. In addition, the company’s proprietary Skin Identity Check was now prominently displayed on the homepage.
“The skin check is what Skin Inc is all about. Customers go through an easy-to-navigate and in-depth 3-minute questionnaire about their skin.
It also asks about your lifestyle, diet, exercise — everything that affects your skin at any moment,” says Ms Tan.
Also implemented was a “live chat” feature where customers can pose questions to beauty consultants from Skin Inc.
There are three people manning the chat in Singapore and they work with another team from the United States to make the online chat effectively 24/7.
“Once, there were 30 chats going on, and each person had 10 windows open,” recalls Ms Tan. “The team loves the rush and the experience has been rewarding because we get direct feedback from customers.”
The website revamp saw an increase in page views, and people were browsing for longer periods.
Most importantly, the conversion from just browsing to actual sales doubled.
Working with Spring Singapore also brought other benefits to the company such as unexpected referrals and networking contacts.
“They were good learning experiences.
We learnt what customers look out for when they go into a website and about the different taxation and customs duties of various countries,” says Ms Tan.
While expansion has been the current focus of the company, its relationship with customers has always remained important. This core philosophy came to the fore last September when the website went live after the revamp.
Its first customer from Norway tried to buy products online that day but was frustrated when she could not make her purchases.
“As with any first-day launch, there were bugs to sort out, so my colleague had to send her several personal e-mails saying, ‘Please be patient, we will get there, you will get your order,’ ” recalls Ms Tan.
“She has since become a regular customer. From teething problems, we were able to create something positive out of that experience. It was very heartening to see that.”
For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail
This article was first published on Aug 5, 2015.
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