E-volving times: COVID-19 pushes indie Singaporean perfumery to face its future in a digital world

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sifr Aromatics aims to digitise its business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Sifr Aromatics]
Sifr Aromatics aims to digitise its business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Sifr Aromatics]

Related tags: Fragrance, e-commerce

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving independent Singaporean perfumery, Sifr Aromatics, to digitise its business with an e-commerce platform and an online-based bespoke perfumery service that it aims to launch this year.

Sifr Aromatics founder Johari Kazura is a third-generation perfumer whose family founded the local perfumery Kazura in 1933.

After a jaunt studying abroad over a decade ago, Kazura returned home to establish his own perfumery in 2010 to carry on the family legacy with a modern touch.

In the last 10 years, the perfumery has carved a name for itself. Some of its notable feats include being named dropped in the Louis Vuitton Singapore City Guide and expanding into the Australian market.

However, like many small, independent businesses, the company was greatly affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns and its overall impact on footfall, as well as tourism.

Lizzie You, co-founder and partner, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia ​that the global pandemic pressured the business to face its future in an increasingly digitalised world.

The company still runs primarily from its 19th-century shophouse in the heart of Kampung Glam, the same historic district the family has operated in for over eight decades.

The company made use of the COVID-19 downtime to put together an e-commerce platform and increase its online presence.

“We made this website during the [lockdown], so you can imagine it was a bit of a rush. It’s something new we are trying to learn. It’s not there yet; we are working on new visuals, better presentation. In the future we hope to make it more impactful,” ​said You.

Building a bespoke service online

One of the company’s biggest strengths lies in its custom perfume service. You described the service as an intimate process where perfumers take time to get to know their clients before blending the perfect scent for them.

With more importance placed on e-commerce, the company has been working out how to translate this service and its process online.

“At first, the idea of customising a perfume off-site was uncompromisable. I know there are brands that customise perfumes online, but I really couldn’t bring myself to do it,” ​said You.

“A lot of people may think that they know they like lavender, but I have five different types of lavender in store. These words usually don’t mean very much, but when you get to know someone, their life and experiences, then you can really make a perfume for them.”

To best emulate the experience, the company has developed a questionnaire that aims to help the perfumer find out as much as they can about a person’s life and experiences as possible.

The company has successfully trialled this process with select customers and hopes to roll it out sometime this year.

“That’s really been a joyful experience for me, and I can’t wait to offer this to the public,”​ said You.

Picking up opportunities

Aside from building up its e-commerce presence, the company has also been working on a few collaborative projects with other companies in areas such as ambient scenting, which You credited to help from the Singaporean government.

“The Singapore government has been pointing us in the direction of what we can explore as a company. It’s been really fun collaborating and connecting with different companies and working on a project together.”

The company also intends to expand the business overseas and has identified Australia, Austria and Kazakhstan as possible markets.

You said the goal would be to build a physical presence in those markets.

“For sure we are working on social media and trying to move this e-commerce thing along, but at the same time, we are identifying partners like multi-brand retailers because we still hold onto that desire to have a store presence.”

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