SINGAPORE – A group of home-grown lifestyle brands are well on the way to cracking the tough United States market after a four-month retail pop-up staged in New York last year by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG).
The reception was so good that six of the 10 brands extended their presence for a further two months and will now close up shop in March.
The showcase – held at Showfields department store – was the first time most of the brands had retailed physically in the United States.
EnterpriseSG devised the initiative to help local firms break into the traditionally challenging US market, which is awash with consumer brands.
EnterpriseSG executive director (Americas and Europe) Clarence Hoe said: “Brands and products were tastefully displayed, and well-trained service staff ready to share details when you walk past them.
“We helped prepare our companies to refine their brand narrative and marketing strategy so they stand out from the crowd, and also be cost-competitive.
“We invited media and key influencers, and also secured the billboard space in Times Square to provide a showcase. Not only that, we organised a week-long business mission in New York for them to meet with distributors and retailers for new partnerships.”
The event generated significant footfall, with the companies featured in several US media outlets, Mr Hoe said.
For instance, reBynd by Bynd Artisan, which makes customised leather and paper gifts, pitched to the Neighborhood Goods chain and is now selling products at its store in Texas.
Fashion brands Tocco Toscano and DMK will also be solidifying their US market entry plans in 2023.
DMK chief creative officer Eileen Goh told The Straits Times: “With the enthusiastic response at Showfields, we are eager to delve deeper into the US market.
”Our strategy is to first establish a solid online presence, gain a stronger understanding of the market, followed by brick-and-mortar expansion in the US. We were also very inspired by the creative retail experiences and storytelling techniques of top brands in the US and are revamping our Plaza Singapura boutique in the first quarter of 2023.”
Tocco Toscano chief executive Joseph Lor added: “The showcase garnered quite a bit of interest from potential US partners. We are also adding more sustainable and vegan options into our product mix.”
The other lifestyle brands featured in the pop-up were Anothersole, Eden + Elie, Porcelain, Hegen, Scent by Six, Simone Jewels and Talking Toes.
Plans are afoot to stage another showcase on the west coast of the US, perhaps in Los Angeles.
Another EnterpriseSG success story is home-grown fintech M-DAQ, which minimises foreign currency costs by allowing users to buy items in their home currency despite being on an overseas e-commerce platform. Merchants can also be paid in their desired currency.
It has customers across 45 countries, including AliExpress, TMall, JD.com, KrisShop, Payoneer and Grab.
Customers are three times more likely to buy when items are in their local currency, founder and group CEO Richard Koh told ST. The platform, called Aladdin+, turned profitable in 2018. The company was founded in 2010.
M-DAQ, which aims to list in the next three years, completed a US$200 million (S$262 million) series D fund-raising round in August 2021.
It is talking to investors to shore up its war chest as it embarks on plans to capture more market opportunities, including through mergers and acquisitions.
It completed its acquisition of Wallex, a cross-border payments provider with licences in Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore, in February last year. Wallex has since garnered an 80 per cent market share of Indonesia’s non-bank foreign exchange flows.
“Critical to our growth story was a $1.5 million grant from the Economic Development Board (EDB) back in 2010,” Mr Koh said.
“We also had support from the Monetary Authority of Singapore... and we became the first local company that EDBI (EDB’s investment arm) invested in back in 2015. Last year, they introduced us to key stakeholders in Europe, the United Kingdom and Japan,” Mr Koh said.