Helping modern women look and feel good
Chaloné is one of Asia’s leading lingerie boutiques and the winner of several prestigious awards including the Singapore Tatler and Women’s Weekly’s Lingerie Awards. With multiple outlets across Singapore and a presence in major department stores in Bangkok, Thailand, the brand is known for its luxurious yet affordable collections.
Despite its current success, this homegrown lingerie brand has much humbler beginnings.
It all started as a casual chat between three friends – Vera Tay, Justine Ng and Gary Lee. “We were joking about quitting our jobs and starting our own business when Vera suggested selling women’s lingerie,” said Gary.
That casual comment quickly took hold as the three founders realised the potential of the lingerie business. After much consideration, they quit their jobs and threw themselves into making their dream a reality.
Despite their enthusiasm, it was extremely challenging for them. “We had no experience in the lingerie industry. Gary was working in construction, Vera was in skincare and I was doing retail in bed linens,” shared Justine.
Undaunted by their limitations, the trio conducted market research and soon identified a niche market – premium lingerie. “Back then, more than 19 years ago, lingerie was more about function than form. Paying hundreds of dollars for luxury lingerie was almost unheard of, but we set out to change that,” commented Vera.
By importing high-end lingerie from top brands in France and Italy, the business slowly grew. Spurred on by positive feedback from friends and family, the trio expanded their designs and collection.
Putting customers first
With the understanding that their customers were key to growing and sustaining the business, the founders focused on delivering exceptional customer service.
“We wanted to give every customer an unforgettable experience from the moment they walked into the shop. We learnt how to identify the types of lingerie customers would like from the clothes they were wearing and recommended suitable collections and designs,” said Justine.
Besides maintaining a comprehensive customer database that detailed each customer’s order history and preferences, they also sent out regular newsletters on new collections and promotions to engage customers.
“It was hard work because everything was in hard copy and not online. Not forgetting we had no manpower other than ourselves and I was also doing delivery while the two ladies were working at the retail shop,” recalled Gary.
Despite the success of the business, the trio realised that not all lingerie styles were suitable for Asian body types. Working from customer feedback, they created several lingerie designs, adapting the ultra-sexy, couture-like style of French lingerie.
“It was a steep learning curve for all of us. We had to learn about fabrics, patterns and the various techniques involved in bra making,” shared Vera.
After months of experimenting with different styles and working with numerous manufacturers, the founders finally turned their designs into a range of stylish, affordable lingerie catered specifically for Asian women.
The launch was a huge success and, with that, the Chaloné line was born.
Today, the business’ in-house brand makes up more than 80% of the inventory. For any retailer, this means that you are no longer just a middleman. Profit margin rises and the business is able to build up a following for its own products.
Bringing the business online
Having established several outlets, the founders began to explore ways to extend the brand’s reach. In 2016, Chaloné launched its ecommerce website to complement its brick-and-mortar stores.
While the online store did boost business initially, most of the site’s visitors were repeat customers.
In a bid to increase awareness of Chaloné’s website and appeal to the younger generation, the founders decided it was time to engage a digital marketing agency.
However, this was easier said than done. Most agencies only offered generic solutions with no clear advice on why, how and where the founders should spend their advertising budget. Some of the agencies didn’t even have proper social media pages of their own.
Vera then turned to Google for help, and discovered Adtiq.
“I was convinced when I saw the positive customer reviews for Adtiq. More importantly, most of the reviews are from SMEs, which fits us perfectly,” commented Vera.
Thanks to Adtiq, the founders now have a better understanding of digital marketing and which social media platforms to use. The handy tips and list of keywords have also helped tremendously in ad optimisation.
In addition, through tracking and timely reports, the platform provides greater transparency on the effectiveness of each campaign. Real-time estimates on return on investment (ROI) allows the company to better plan their ad budget for maximum results as well.
An enhanced customer experience
Even though online sales have improved with the increasing number of new and existing customers shopping on the website, the founders make it a point to ensure that customer service is not compromised.
“We pride ourselves on providing our customers with a personalised experience, whether they shop in-store or online. Many of our clients appreciate this and that’s why they keep coming back,” shared Justine.
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