Here's how Face Inc is leveraging digital. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s how Face Inc is leveraging digital. Source: Shutterstock

How Face Inc leveraged digital to start, build, and grow in Asia

DIGITAL capabilities don’t come naturally to businesses born in the digital age. It takes careful planning and management.

Face Inc Managing Director Wilson Goh, whose new-age skin care company came to life in April 2015, tells Tech Wire Asia about the nuances of leveraging digital to start, build, and grow the business across Asia.

Given Face Inc’s trajectory as a fast-growing online business that is slowly establishing an independent physical presence in this region, is proof that success comes to those who relentlessly pursue a great customer experience.

Shortly after launch, Goh and his colleagues realized that customers don’t always know what’s best for their skin since not everyone can afford to visit a dermatologist — which prompted the company to turn to artificial intelligence (AI).

“We’re always looking to help our customers by providing them with skin care solutions that are right for them.” The company soon launched an AI-powered digital skin doctor and christened it Dr. Rei.

Hosted on the company’s website, Dr. Rei helps asks customers a set of questions typically asked by doctors at skin clinics — and quickly provides an accurate set of recommended products for clients.

Obviously, Dr. Rei has been an instant hit and help the company wow its customers, from Singapore, across Asia, to more than 20 countries around the world now.

However, the company didn’t sit back and relax after launching Dr. Rei. The company is always monitoring and reviewing how customers interact with their website and brand online, and making sure that they deliver on expectations.

One of the things that the company did, for example, was that it created a mouse-over feature that provided information about things such as skin-type in questionnaire for Dr. Rei’s AI-lab. The featured was created by monitoring customer’s use of the website (and uncovering what they struggled with).

“That’s exactly why we create different versions of our website for audiences from different geographies. They’re all different, they expect different things from us, and we want to rise up to the challenge and give them a digital experience they’re most comfortable with.”

Face Inc’s website provides content, including language and graphics, to suit the tastes, preferences, sense, and sensibilities of audiences from different geographies — showcasing its focus on digital to win hearts and a share of the customer’s wallet.

Internally, the company didn’t invest in expensive digital solutions until now.

Like most companies, Face Inc started off managing accounts and inventory on Microsoft Excel. However, given the importance of tracking products and managing the shelf-life of products, the company is looking to invest in an efficient enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that can manage its data and create useful insights.

“One of the most important things now for us is to find a tool that not only manages our business but also helps forecast demand accurately so we can best manage our inventory.

“Our products have a three-year shelf-life, and although customers typically use them within a month or two, they like to receive products when they’re fresh out of the lab and not when they have two-and-a-half years of useful life remaining.”

At the time of the interview, the company was still exploring how different ERPs could help deliver on expectations, however, given all the data that the company already has, there might be an alternative solution involving AI and big data out there for Face Inc.

Goh, keen on new and innovative ideas, seems open to exploring new technology-powered solutions. However, his ultimate aim is to always ensure the customer’s needs, comfort, and interests are kept in mind — which is what has helped the company scale in the first place.

In fact, the company’s decision to expand its footprint and step into the physical world of retail is one example of how Face Inc intends to get closer to its customers this year.

The company has recently launched the brand’s first stand-alone counter at Robinsons Kuala Lumpur and expects to build more stores in Malaysia and other key markets soon.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that digital natives might have a few advantages when compared to traditional players with legacy systems, processes, and software — but they are, and will always be, the architects of their own digital experience.