When the conditional movement control order was announced, Dahlia Nadirah, founder of Malaysian beauty brand So.lek Cosmetics, says, “It was worrying to see the increase of cases everyday, especially when they are higher than when the MCO was first announced in March".
Dahlia says, “Our challenge now is just to make sales in order to keep the business afloat. To control cash flow and to release stocks through promos. Another struggle would be ‘where do we go from here, how do we plan for 2021?’”
“We are fortunate that we have many loyal customers and the reason we are still here is solely because of them. We hope they will continue to support local businesses like us, ” Dahlia says.
“For now we are doing a lot of promos to keep the business going. We will continue with what we are doing but with more marketing and online ads. I am also doing a lot of R&D to see if we could diversify the business".
Dahlia has learned not to take anything for granted and the way she looks at her business and life is completely different now.
“Instead of worrying, I’m choosing to look at other business opportunities. It takes a lot of perseverance to move forward from the feeling of helplessness and what not. I learnt a lot about planning and to always have Plan A, B, C and D in hand!”
Greenology, a Malaysian natural hair and body care brand, was doing pretty well earlier this year but now with the conditional MCO, their main challenge lies in financial management.
Gray Yong Chin Ching, who cofounded Greenology with her sister Cherie Yong Chin Hu in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, says, "We need to be cautious in order to maintain a healthy level of cash flow. We are also trying hard to use the limited resources efficiently to achieve optimum results".
“Our offline sales from kiosks and pharmacies had dropped drastically by about 60%. On the other hand, online sales have increased significantly. Now, with the conditional MCO, we are focusing our efforts on online marketing and brand awareness".
The siblings, who have 14 years of experience in the beauty industry, found many products in the market use harmful chemicals.
In their search for products they would be comfortable using themselves, they decided to create their own brand that uses high-quality natural ingredients.
“During this period, with roadshows suspended and a decrease in shopping mall crowds, sales at our kiosks is affected (which contributes most of their revenue). We are already planning to improve our website user buying experience and develop multi sales channels online (website, social media and marketplaces), ” Yong says.
Yong will encourage customers to buy and enquire via their online platforms and to provide them peace of mind, all parcels are sanitised before shipping.
“Our bestsellers are hair and scalp care products. During this pandemic, we found a high demand for anti-bacterial products such as pure essential oils and tea tree hygienic hand and surface sprays. Consumers are more concerned about hygiene and personal safety now".
“Right now, we are facing a shortage of raw ingredient supplies from overseas. Some shipment of packaging is also delayed".
With too many uncertainties, they have decided to postpone the launch of their new products to next year.
“This pandemic allows us to see that the future of sales channels will move to online. We are more certain in strategising our company direction to the integration of online and offline".
On a positive note, Yong says, “I have learned that changes and challenges are the norm in business. We need to build a strong business foundation during “normal” times, then only will we be able to survive in an uncertain business climate and become a more sustainable brand".
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