Indie brand FrankSkincare amps up online efforts and pop-up stores to counter COVID-19 retail impact
Founded in 2015, FrankSkincare claims to be one of the pioneering organic skin care brands on the Singapore indie beauty scene.
In the last five years, the brand has been building up a strong base of loyal local customers and expanded into the physical retail space with a flagship in the city’s upscale financial district.
While founder Cissy Chen admits the journey has not been consistently smooth sailing, the brand has been growing due to an increased interest in organic ingredients, indie beauty and the wellness movement in recent years.
In 2019, the brand saw another year of growth and planned to open its second brick and mortar store along Orchard Road, Singapore’s busy shopping district, in 2020.
Chen told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that opening a second store was crucial to her business strategy.
She envisioned that the two physical stores would complement its online store and pop-up efforts to continue driving growth for the brand.
However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has derailed those plans. Instead, Chen said the company will channel its resources to tiding through this crisis.
“The virus has interrupted all the plans and made it less possible to open a second store. For a small company like us, one or two bad months could topple our entire business altogether. All our extra funds will have to go into ensuring we can survive this virus.”
Back to online basics
The panic that the outbreak had stirred up was felt at its flagship immediately. Overnight, the traffic at its store fell without the buzzing lunchtime crowd.
“We are doing a lot less business than before, even lesser than the January period right after Christmas. The impact is insane. We are currently discussing rental rebates with mall management, but they have been very slow to respond,” said Chen.
The company managed to pull through in February with the help of a pop-up store it had committed to holding in February.
“It was during the peak of the virus outbreak. Our pop-up was in [Orchard Road] and it was very quiet. Our sales revenue from it was the worst we ever experienced, but without it, we would have done probably only one-fifth as well as our previous month,” said Chen.
Chen believes the impact of the virus on the retail industry will last six to nine months at least.
In the meantime, the company will be focusing its efforts in its e-commerce business and reinforce its presence online.
“It’s like going back to when we first started as a brand. We will focus our energy on online marketing with Facebook advertising and creating content to engage our customers on YouTube, Instagram and wherever we can reach them,” said Chen.
Additionally, Chen said she hopes to hold more pop-up store events if the situation allows as they help the brand gain plenty of new customers and gives them a chance to connect with their current customers.
“I would definitely do more pop-ups if there’s a chance, especially now that we probably won’t open another store, pop-ups can replace the effect we wanted from that. Also, pop-ups are good because they are more flexible, and we can play by ear,” she said.
So far, the brand has not made any plans to hold a pop-up event for the near future.
“We have not committed to any more pop-ups but I feel like things are more normal now. The traffic looks like its returning and there are lesser people wearing masks. But I think the spending power will still not be there yet for the next few months.”