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Daniel Lim, Co-Founder of Reebonz

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Daniel Lim started his entrepreneurship journey as an undergraduate at the Singapore Management University (SMU), together with Reebonz’s other co-founder, Benjamin Han. Daniel has always been interested in business and in particular, e-commerce. Recognising the potential in the Asia Pacific consumer market, Daniel along with Benjamin came up with the concept of a luxury e-commerce platform. In March 2009, with other founding members, they launched Reebonz in Singapore. Today, Daniel’s team has expanded into 8 countries within the region, with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia and Korea. Today, Daniel shares with The Asian Entrepreneur, his incredible journey.

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In your own words what is Reebonz?

Reebonz embodies my aspiration to make luxury accessible, by providing Asia Pacific shoppers with a trusted platform for buying and selling the widest range of luxury products across our luxury eco-system, providing a seamless shopping experience for everyone.

Reebonz is designed to connect shoppers to the world of luxury through three ways: as a luxury B2C e-tailer (Reebonz), a marketplace platform for individuals (C2C) to buy and sell pre-owned luxury goods (Closets), and allowing shoppers access to multi-brand luxury boutiques without a presence in Asia (Reebonz Marketplace).

What is Reebonz’s position in its industry?

Reebonz is the leading luxury e-commerce retailer in Asia Pacific, with a presence in 8 countries within the region and over 300 employees in offices across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia and Korea.

Reebonz is different in that we were one of the first entrants in the luxury e-commerce space and we have evolved over the years to continue to stay ahead of the pack. The brand was conceived based on two key industry trends that emerged in 2009: first, e-commerce was incipiently taking off in Asia Pacific; second, the global financial crisis also meant many brands and companies were dealing with an overstock. As such, they were turning to new avenues to liquidate inventory.

Recognising this as an opportune moment to make our first move into the luxury e-commerce space, Reebonz was built on the idea of making luxury accessible and that vision continues to drive our business’ growth today. Strategies have obviously evolved, but the single idea crystalised a large portion of the company’s doings over the past 7 years, and has yielded results that prove that we are on the right track. We benchmark ourselves against the best in the industry and constantly innovate to keep Reebonz ahead of the competition.

How has Reebonz been developing in the last year?

In the last year, we have focused on expanding our luxury eco-system, having the widest range of luxury products and solidifying our position as part of our customers’ luxury consumption journey. We also understand that success in the e-commerce space is also largely dependent on your inventory, which we have managed to grow by tapping on consumers and merchants around the world. For the latter group, we launched Reebonz Marketplace after identifying the likes of merchants, boutique owners and luxury resellers, who were looking to buy and sell luxury borderlessly. The online marketplace opened up another avenue for consumers to access luxury, either via lower price points, or in vintage models and styles that are otherwise hard to access.

Reebonz has also been evolving our customer service. We ensure that we are constantly listening to customers’ feedback and strive to tighten/shorten processes to make their shopping experience even more seamless.

We have also been opening pop-up stores in strategic locations to bring our products and services nearer to our customers. Our latest pop-up in Singapore is situated within Plaza Singapura, within most prominent shopping belt in Singapore.

Has there been any changes in consumer behaviour for luxury products in Asia?

The luxury market is probably one of the slowest industries that has adopted e-commerce but that’s slowly changing. In developed markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, people are well-connected, average incomes are higher, and they have physical access to luxury stores – so in terms of these markets, it is about shifting their behaviour to online.

However, for middle markets in Asia, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, there is an aspirational middle class, although the group is still quite small at this point in time. But we definitely see this growing in the next three to five years and these people will start to access luxury in a different way.

For these developing markets, their way of accessing luxury may not necessarily be through a computer desktop – in fact, they might completely bypass the e-commerce phase of using the web browser and go straight to mobile. For example, in Indonesia, 65% of Reebonz’s revenue comes from our mobile app only and the number is even higher if you include mobile web. Therefore, Indonesia is a country where the middle class have completely bypassed desktop and gone straight to mobile. We had to cater to their needs, and we have successfully done so, through great apps and a mobile-optimised site. The potential for online luxury consumption in Asia definitely seems to be a stable trend that Reebonz is riding on.

Overall, we have also noticed a higher demand for niche/cult brands that has grown tremendously in the last few years, in addition to a growing segment of younger customers that are starting their luxury consumption journey with Reebonz.

How has Reebonz been working to connect to luxury product consumers?

The strategies we use at Reebonz are very much data-driven and as a pioneer in the e-commerce space, we continue to stay innovative.

A key example would be Reebonz Closets, launched in January 2015, which uses a C2C business model that allows customers to create liquidity with their luxury merchandise. It was created as a trusted platform for luxury consumers to buy, sell or trade their luxury pieces in simple steps. Closets has a community of over 4 million users across Asia Pacific and over 10,000 transactions were completed within our first year of business.

We’ve recently relaunched Reebonz Closets in July 2016 as a standalone app that offers a more seamless buying and selling process for users, and growing the use of the platform is one of key priorities. A focus will be to market Closets to a wider audience and grow the online community of engaged users across the region.

Our core strategy has always remained – at Reebonz, we understand the importance of trust and promise authenticity in all our products, across all platforms, allowing our customers to shop with confidence. We have in place a 100% buy-back /trade-in guarantee for pre-owned Reebonz items in either cash or store credits (terms and conditions apply).

How does Reebonz play to secure itself against competition?

As the luxury fashion business is always changing we are constantly challenging ourselves to take innovation to the next level by relying on the latest technology advancements to ensure our consumers are connected across multi-platforms.

We are the most trusted luxury online platform with more than 4.5 million members to date; and the third largest e-commerce business based in Singapore, shipping to over 20 countries around the world.

We carry over 100,000 SKUs from more than 500 brands to satisfy Asia’s consumer appetite for luxury; and have expanded to bricks and mortar – also known as Reebonz SPACE in Singapore and Australia, reinventing what has traditionally been a physical-to-digital approach among retailers.

What’s unique to Reebonz is our luxury online ecosystem trusted by luxury buyers and sellers.

Beyond the provision of a seamless shopping experience, an essential part of our business is ensuring the best services and experiences are delivered at every single customer touchpoint. We offer unparalleled delivery services, where all orders are delivered within three working days – imagine getting your hands on the extravagance of Hermès, without the hassle of a drawn-out wait!

With a customer-centric approach to business, our consumers always come first. We believe an authentic brand experience is just as important as the authenticity of our products. Therefore, we keep ourselves on the toes of technology and aim to stay ahead of the curve of innovation: this is to provide our customers with an exceptional shopping experience, which will help us foster a community of loyal customers who trust us, and whom we support.

The Reebonz luxuy ecosystem includes a range of unique services that build trust with our customers and aims to put their minds at ease when shopping with us. For example, every item listed on Reebonz has been put under the most rigorous testing to meet the highest standards of quality. All our products are closely examined by our professional Reebonz Atelier team before they are issued a Reebonz Atelier Authenticity Card. Customers can look up the authentication process on the Reebonz website, where they can understand the extensive process our Atelier team goes through to guarantee the authenticity of all items.

Since launching in 2009, one of Reebonz’s best marketers are our customers themselves. Word-of-mouth recommendations from our 4.5 million strong community has helped to propel our growth through the years and remains a key factor and allowing us to stay ahead of the competition.

 Are there any other industry insights that can be shared with our readers?

The digital revolution has caused tectonic shifts in the retail landscape and the rules of engagement when it comes to luxury shoppers are no longer as they were before. The traditional approach that brands and merchants used to apply for decades, needs to change.

The increasing shift to mobile means that consumers today are increasingly plugged into brands and products with technology opening up new streams of information discovery and they are no longer as easily satisfied with the same old; the way they shop and make purchase

Key to navigating this new world is to understand the luxury consumer, what they are moving towards and evolving retail strategies to keep shoppers engaged and loyal.

An analysis of Reebonz’s data (2014-2015) shows that in Asia Pacific, Singapore leads online shopping while Australia and Indonesia are charting the biggest growth when it comes to buying high-end goods.

Reebonz will be releasing the first-ever Asia Luxury Index in August 2016, the first of our efforts to track the performance of the online luxury ecosystem, which will provide our take on the future of luxury in Asia.

 Are consumers in Asia different to those in the West?

The Asia Pacific e-commerce market continues to grow and digital retail sales in the region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

T. Kearney reported that the combined retail value of online sales in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam was estimated to be US$7 billion in 2013. Singapore accounted for the largest share at 25%, while Malaysia and Indonesia each accounted for 20% of total sales. A.T. Kearney expects online retail spending in ASEAN to grow by 25% annually (2013 to 2017) due to increasing purchasing power, growing internet penetration and improved online offerings in the region.

The boom in e-commerce has brought challenges – both brick-and-mortar leaders and major pure-play online retailers are learning that the future of the industry is not merely online, but rather in creative omnichannel offerings that link online and physical shopping .

Recognizing this opportunity for growth, we expanded into Reebonz SPACE, our brick-and-mortar concept in Singapore and Australia, reinventing what has traditionally been a physical-to-digital approach among retailers.

Consumers are increasingly connected, shopping through a variety of mobile platforms and this says a lot about consumer confidence and the adoption of e-commerce, particularly in a region such as Asia where many emerging markets are leapfrogging in their digital evolution.

The quality and final presentation of the product is also important to consumers. We understand the importance of aesthetics, ensuring that when the product reaches our customers, they are excited to tear open the sleek, black Reebonz boxes, which is a key touchpoint in the Reebonz shopping experience.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

I believe that the same principles of success applies regardless of location. The two most important attributes for entrepreneurs are adaptability and innovation, no matter what industry they are in.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

There is no perfect product. Ensure that you launch, test and improve the product as you evolve and grow. Study the market before you enter it – understand that not everyone is your customer. Find a mentor and learn from him/her, and be open to their advice. Finally, take calculated risks – first you fire bullets then cannonballs!

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Connect

Website: www.reebonz.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReebonzSG
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ReebonzSG/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/1190518

 

Callum Connects

Mikyung Kim, TV Commercial Producer

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Mikyung Kim is a savvy producer who runs her own TV and print production business, based in Hong Kong.

What’s your story?
I am a TV commercial and print producer working with advertising agencies and brands to bring their communication needs to the screen. My background is in film production and I started my career in Hollywood working with Oscar winning directors Michel Gondry and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Before starting my own company last year to produce content directly with agencies and brands, I was with Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong for nearly five years as the Senior Producer and Head of TV running the film production department.

What excites you most about your industry?
How it’s constantly evolving! Every day is different and it’s certainly never boring. I love that it’s a creative industry and that my job involves talking to people with creative minds on how we can bring a story on paper to life. It’s exciting that the advertising industry places high value on the creativity and effectiveness of content. I’ve produced a few commercials that creatively push the envelope with fun and sometimes wild ideas that have converted into positive brand awareness. Ever heard of KFC Finger Lickin’ Good…Nail Polish that yes, tastes like chicken? https://www.adweek.com/creativity/kfc-just-made-edible-finger-lickin-good-nail-polish-yeah-tastes-chicken-171245/

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong until graduating from high school at HKIS. I spent my university years in Boston at Emerson College and worked in Los Angeles at Anonymous Content and Partizan Entertainment. But on a brief visit back to Hong Kong in 2010, I decided to move back and continue my career here, and it was the best decision I ever made.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my home so it will always be my favourite city for business and for me personally. What I love about Hong Kong is that while I am based here, I can actually work with agencies and brands from anywhere in APAC. If I need to attend an important meeting, I can just hop on a quick flight easily. I spent most of 2017 working in Seoul with Korean agency Cheil and Samsung, and currently I am working with Japanese agency ADK and Toyota based in Singapore.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Fake it until you become it,” from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. Worth a watch. This helped me early in my career when I felt like I was under qualified for the job I was in. I learned to fake my confidence and fake a powerful body language until I truly felt that confidence became something real. It was nerve wracking at first but it worked and now I don’t have to fake it.

Who inspires you?
My friends. Noelle who worked part time jobs while being a full time student to pay her own tuition while we were in college together. Osti who is a lawyer focused on supporting developing nations and a board member of Redress, an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. Vanessa who runs a real estate company, co-owns the gym Crossfit Asphodel, started a health foods business called Quo and NGO The Keep Moving Project to promote wellness in our community. Cathy who will be the first Asian woman to direct a big budget superhero film starring Margot Robbie with Warner Bros and DC. And too many more to name!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
5.2 million plastic bottles are thrown away in Hong Kong every day. Plastic pollution is a major issue for the environment and we as responsible citizens can do our small part by reducing our consumption of unnecessary plastic. I do mine by having a water filter at home and carrying my own reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. I love the brand Hydroflask because the stainless steel material keeps water hot or cold for hours, so I don’t feel tempted to buy a cold water at 7-11 on those hot, humid days we have here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
About five years ago I purchased my very first stock and put one month’s salary into it, which at the time was a lot of money for me. Knowing how that stock has performed now, I would have put all my savings into it.

How do you unwind?
Exercise is essential in my daily life to help clear my head and de-stress. My go to is a workout at Crossfit Asphodel, running outdoors, yoga and hiking. But a glass of red wine and live music at Soiree in Soho on Sunday night works pretty well too!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
One of the best trips I ever took was to the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Two girl friends and I did a 3 day 2 night hiking and camping trip to summit the Mount Rinjani Volcano. It was physically challenging but mentally relaxing. There was no cellphone reception, no distractions, we had the company of nature and nights with skies full of shooting stars. It was pretty magical. We then went to the Gili Islands for a few days of scuba diving, yoga and sitting on the beach doing nothing but sipping on coconuts. That was pretty relaxing too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel and “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Essential reads for every working woman and/or man who wants to know how to support the working women in their life.

Shameless plug for your business:
I am a TV commercial and print producer that can plug into an existing advertising agency or brand team to produce their communication needs. Many advertising agencies these days are scaling down so they have creative directors and account services but may not have an in-house producer, so I can fill that gap by becoming a part of the existing agency team. For brands that want to produce content directly without involving an agency, I can also bridge the gap by bringing my production knowledge in-house and working as part of the marketing/brand team and liaising with the other departments in the company such as product team and ecomm.

How can people connect with you?
They can email me at [email protected]
or visit my website at mkimproducer.com

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Renne Ballard, Owner of Renée Ballard Communications

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Renne Ballard runs a social media agency working with business women, helping them find their business’s voice.

What’s your story?
I began my career in PR/communications ten years ago in Australia, after arriving home from two years in Dubai. In Dubai I was working for Emirates Airlines as a flight attendant and flying around the world non-stop for two years. This really sparked my interest for how people communicate. I started out as a community manager for an online advertising company, then moved into the corporate world of outdoor advertising, managing internal and external PR and communications. After having a baby four years ago, I decided to leave the safety net of corporate, and stride out on my own. I now run a social media agency and I specialise in working with business women, helping to find their business’ voice so they can use social media to achieve their business goals.

What excites you most about your industry?
I love the open accessibility online provides. It’s free for businesses to get online and connect with their target audience. Twenty years ago, advertising and PR was insanely expensive and quite elitist, but through incredible platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any business can connect with who is looking for their product/solution. Social media is particularly effective for small businesses because they have the edge when it comes to authenticity and a clear voice.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m in Hong Kong because I’m a trailing spouse. I know it’s such a daggy term, but I love it, it makes me sound so dedicated to my husband! Alas, we came to Hong Kong for my husband’s work. He’s the Design Director of Asia for an international retail design agency. We’ve been here for almost two years and it’s been a huge learning curve in terms of business and culture. We love the fast-paced nature of Hong Kong and the fact that everything is open late – it suits me perfectly because I’m nocturnal.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
That’s easy, Hong Kong. It’s the perfect blend of start-ups and mothership-sized institutions. I love the small business side, watching the collaborations between workshare spaces with galleries, networking groups and foodies; it’s a hothouse of creative partnerships here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When you’re are feeling scared about your next step, lean in and feel the difference. Is it fear mixed with excitement? Or fear mixed with dread? Always go with the former and cut loose the latter.

Who inspires you?
I love Tamara Mellon (Jimmy Choo founder). She has created multiple empires and she never stops trying new business models and pushing her limits. It helps that I love shoes too.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I just turned 40 years old. At best, I’m probably halfway through my life. It makes me constantly question, “Am I where I want to be?”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have asked more questions to the people I looked up to, and listened less to the people telling me I won’t achieve my goals.

How do you unwind?
In this day and age, it’s scandalous to say, but I love sunbaking. At any chance, you’ll find me poolside, laying in the sun in a trance-like state.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Northern Danang in Vietnam. We were there at Christmas, at the foot of the mountains and it was beautiful. Heaps of wildlife and jungles and enough five star resorts that I was never parched once.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘The E Myth’ by Michael Gerber. It’s an oldie but a goodie because it succinctly outlines how to transition from a one person operation to a global business like McDonalds. Once you see how important systems and processes are, you can recognise shambolic companies a mile off.

Shameless plug for your business:
Renée Ballard Communications is a social media agency that works with business women who are ready to make social media work for them. We create effective, powerful social media strategies that are tailored to the people who will be breathing life into them. We hand on heart promise to never use annoying, marketing buzzwords and that we value laughter above everything else.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected] or www.reneeballard.com or +85296670115

Twitter handle?
@ballard_comms

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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