An interview with Wendy Siu, Founder Heather & March; Advisory Board Member, Laurent-Perrier
1. How do you think you and your brand are shaping the future of retail
- Being a quality homeware and lifestyle ‘specialty’ store, we prefer to stay humble in terms of claiming how we can ‘shape’ the future of retail as we are not operating in a mass retail sector, with every of our move causing major shifts in the market place. We however do believe that we bring an important dynamics to the retail scene by preserving our brand value in order to deliver the necessary real customer experience, and authentic personalized service which is irreplaceable by normal e-shop or internet sales, which seems to be the dominating player in the retail scene.
- Due to the specialized and quality products and service we provide which involves personal advice to clients; for example, certain home and entertaining needs and etiquette require different solution, customized products with specific know-how and personalized service. Most of our discerning client needs can’t be addressed generically just via the U-tube video, Instagram, on line photos or e-shop platform. We provide real face to face customer interaction, sharing our lifestyle know-how and knowledge to help customers build their fine living. We also offer special VIP privileges that sustain our customer loyalty.
2. What has been your biggest failure and how did you learn from it?
- Under estimating the risk of disruptive social issues which can cause rapid customer and market change and downturn. In the future, we have to be more sensitive and anticipate any potential social and economic situation before taking up any expansion plan. You also really need to know your customers in that market well before you make a decision to penetrate that market . Don’t count on any unproven false hope or forecast. Do your P&L forecast and internal figures carefully to give you a down-to-earth reality check before you take on any new challenge. Don’t do more than you can handle just because you can, especially for entrepreneurs.
3. What have been your top three lessons learned in business?
- Do not force your growth, expand naturally and only when you have made convincing level of profits, otherwise your financial and operational base are shaky which will cause reverse impact of revenue growth.
- People management – be realistic to check if you really have the right people to execute your strategic sales plans and vision before engagement to avoid waste of time and resources.
- Find the right threshold of product diversification, optimal diversification will help you win but over diversification will add heavy loading to your operation hindering growth.
4. What do you think is the next big idea in retail?
- Digitization will still remain a big idea in the coming future. Omni-channels combining on-line and in-store shopping will continue to be the important drivers for mass or affordable products. Interactive customer service that involves face to face servicing, picture illustration, images, video.
5. Who within/outside of the industry inspires you the most?
- William Sonoma was the company I fell in love that inspired me to start my home business.
- Steve Job is a legend and I completely adored him for his intelligence, strength, talents, vision and encourage which he had literally changed the way we lived today.
6. And for a bit of fun…
What was your last purchase (not F&B) and why?
- Luxury shoes and bag. I bought it at a store. Why- Because of the quality and the value of it. I also have good relationship with the store and I do need those items to fit my lifestyle.