Homegrown skincare company gets tech boost with Spring Singapore's support

After its revamp, Skin Inc’s website became more user-friendly.
After its revamp, Skin Inc’s website became more user-friendly.PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Since 2007 Skin Inc has been on an upward spiral, initially adding concept stores and then expanding regionally. The home-grown 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 were sussing out Skin Inc’s website on their smartphones but the website was not customised for the mobile-friendly experience yet: images and web pages were too large and couldn’t fit onto a mobile screen.

“The whole customer experience and the ease of use of the website had to be vastly improved,” says Sabrina Tan, its founder and CEO.

Ms Tan also felt that the essence of what Skin Inc is about — customised and simplified skincare — was also not prominently displayed. 

The 41-year-old entreprenueur had founded Skin Inc on a simple but logical premise: Customise, don’t prescribe.

Borne from her own personal experience, Ms Tan felt that many customers were frustrated with the skincare industry telling them what their skin needed. 

Instead, she was determined to build a skincare company that would provide customised fuss-free serums for individuals rather than mass-market solutions.

It sounds like a logical concept but the option wasn’t readily available in the crowded beauty landscape then.

By filling that vacuum, Skin Inc has grown by 300 per cent year-on-year since its beginnings. 

A spring in its step

To burgeon its presence in the online market, Skin Inc turned to SPRING Singapore  for help. With the assistance from the Capability Development Grant (CDG), the company embarked on a website revamp last February, 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 - basically everything that affects your skin at this moment,” said Ms Tan.

Also implemented was a “live chat” feature where customers are able to instantly ask a beauty consultant from Skin Inc whatever questions they might have.

There are three people manning the chat in Singapore and they work with another chat 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. “It gets crazy sometimes but the team loves the rush. It has been rewarding and enlightening because you get direct feedback from customers,” 

The website revamp saw an increase in page views as well as more people staying on the page longer. The conversion from just browsing to actual sales doubled.

“We have been able to reach customers from places where we do not have a physical store like Sarawak or Melbourne,” said Ms Tan.

Great resource

Working with SPRING Singapore also brought other benefits to the company such as unexpected referrals and networking contacts. According to Ms Tan, it provided the opportunity for Skin Inc to be more stringent with itself as it had to abide by certain business standards to qualify for the CDG. 

The company was also invited to participate in frequent whole-day seminars with experts who gave talks about the important issues involving e-commerce.

“They were good learning experiences. We learnt what customers look out for when they go into a website and about the different taxation and custom duties of various countries,” said 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 2014 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 emails saying, ‘Please be patient, we will get there, you will get your order,’” recalls Ms Tan.

“She has since become a regular customer. Every time she places an order, she will send a personal email to us asking about our families; or she might tell us that her mother was visiting and she was making the purchases for her,” she says. 

“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 or e-mail lifestyle_division@spring.gov.sg.