Multi-label store SocietyA offers a personal touch

Being able to engage customers better is what prompted Ms Pek Lay Peng to open a boutique for her online multi-label womenswear retailer SocietyA.
Being able to engage customers better is what prompted Ms Pek Lay Peng to open a boutique for her online multi-label womenswear retailer SocietyA.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The owner of popular e-commerce site SocietyA, Ms Pek Lay Peng, had no plans to open a physical store until she was approached by a mall landlord.

The 32-year-old gave the proposal, which was offered to her in February, some thought and decided to go for it.

The multi-label womenswear retailer opened a boutique at Ngee Ann City in March.

The cost of operating the brick- and-mortar store is not cheap, says the mother of one, but offers that much-needed "personal touch" which online stores cannot provide.

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"Customers want that personal touch and engagement when they shop," she says, adding that shoppers do ask for styling help at the boutique. "Some like having a conversation with our staff about the brands we carry."

The physical store also attracts new customers. Ms Pek reckons that 60 per cent of the people who visit the boutique already know of their online site. The remaining 40 per cent are fresh faces likely to become more open to shopping online, she says.

There are other advantages.

"We get to put a face to our customers and get instant feedback, such as the styles they like and their sizing, which we can, in turn, feedback to the designers," she says.

SocietyA, which started online in 2014, stocks Asian fashion labels such as Jonathan Liang and Soulpot Studio.

Customers, it seems, also use the e-commerce site, www.society-a. com, as a catalogue, taking screenshots of clothes they want and letting staff know what they want to try in the store.

"Assured of the sizing and fit, customers are more willing to part with their cash," says Ms Pek, who adds that business at the 1,100 sq ft store has been swift, with shoppers buying an average of three items a transaction.

While reception has been good, she says she will continue to focus on the site.

There are, for instance, plans to revamp it with a Live Chat feature, among other tweaks.

"Retail is no longer purely online or brick and mortar - you have to do what your customer wants."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Multi-label store offers a personal touch'. Print Edition | Subscribe