How A Malaysian Skincare Brand Took On The International Market
Dynamic Malaysian entrepreneur Kaii Lim shares secrets of how his local skincare brand expanded overseas by solving an international logistical challenge
That’s because the product had to be right. I had to embark on a relentless search for the exact ingredients that would target different skin-related issues in the way I needed them to. It took me years of research to finally hit on a skincare formula that worked.
But even before this, entrepreneurship was in my DNA. I’ve been an entrepreneur since my college days, starting with a clothing brand called 97Bros, and eventually a jewelry brand called 18Celebration.
Reaching our target audience with a new type of marketing
Looking for ways to make advertising budgets stretch further, I began to dabble in a new form of marketing – online influencers. Unlike today when the influencer marketing industry is worth billions, influencer marketing then was still in its infancy. However, it proved to be the right platform for my brands, which gained traction and exposure quickly as a result.
Our philosophy for CLEF is that we don’t want to treat skin issues - we want to uproot them. To do that, we needed high quality ingredients that are indiscriminately friendly to all skin types and suitable for different environments. In Asia many countries have high humidity and extreme temperature changes. And globally, urban living is blighted by pollution and exposure to different everyday chemicals.
Taking the leap to expand overseas
CLEF grew rapidly, fueled by product innovation and affiliate marketing. We secured a partnership with the department store SASA, who stocked our products in 72 of their stores. Our sales reached 50,000 sold products in just over a period of 20 months!
With the swift success of CLEF in Malaysia, I wanted to expand the brand. Malaysia might be my home turf and has a sizeable population, but ultimately the market is limited. The only way for CLEF to expand was to go international.
RELATED: Knowing when to take your small business global
Within a year, our overseas sales had penetrated 17 countries, and to this day, our four biggest markets for CLEF products remain the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. We also serve other markets in Europe, such as Germany and Spain, and in Asia, Singapore and China.
Solving CLEF’s logistical challenge
Any online retail business knows that logistics issues create unwanted delays, disrupt the customer experience and cause dissatisfaction that could rebound on them. During the early days of expanding internationally, we faced multiple logistics challenges - long shipping times, delivery issues at the last mile, lack of verified receipt of the shipment, mis-delivery and more.
Once we started using FedEx, we had immediate access to a host of e-commerce solutions tailored for SMEs like us. We discovered an ideal balance between speed and cost, and I was able to pass the convenience of a hassle-free shipping experience on to my customers – a big win all-round.
The FedEx Delivery Manager International solution also lets recipients customize deliveries to fit their busy lives. Our customers can set notifications and receive a tracking number showing where the products are in every stage of the delivery journey.
As an SME, it’s important that our customers have peace of mind and enjoy a great purchase experience. As business owners, we’re hyper-aware that a positive customer experience is vital to a company’s longevity and growth.
RELATED: How to improve customer service with technology
Working with a reliable logistics provider has placed CLEF on a stronger footing. We continue to focus on broadening our reach in international markets – onwards and upwards!
For more stories on how other SMEs are working with FedEx in APAC, head here.