A New Shift for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses: Easing Digital Adoption With SKALE
February 9th, 2022 at 8:50 am
Malaysia has long been known for its lag in digital adoption by businesses. Even before the pandemic, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) were underperforming in terms of output and productivity levels. These existing weaknesses were exacerbated by the rise of COVID-19 cases, especially in the retail sector with retailers who prioritised physical stores over omnichannel strategies being affected the most.
In February 2018, prior to the global pandemic that had negatively impacted all industries, Yuet Whey Siah launched SKALE, an all-in-one marketing platform for offline and omnichannel businesses. The idea came about when she was running DREA, a real estate lead generation marketing platform that provided her with the opportunity to engage with business owners across multiple sectors – many of which owned traditional brick-and-mortar businesses without more modern avenues for further expansion.
Having previously been involved with Unilever and Capitaland, this problem reminded her of how many FMCG and CPG brands still struggled to get consumer insights because of the lack of relevant data. In establishing SKALE, Yuet aims to provide an alternative for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to approach new customers and collect customer data, driving in-store and online sales.
We spoke to Yuet Whey Siah, Founder of SKALE, about why businesses should invest in consumer insights and how her digital marketing platform provides a solution to keeping up with the fast-changing consumer behaviour.
What was your journey towards starting SKALE with your team and the industry gaps you noticed that led you to begin your business?
The journey began in 2019 when I was running and growing a marketing automation platform for SMEs in the real estate industry. During that time, I had the opportunity to speak to many business owners, founders of brick-and-mortar businesses. These businesses typically sold their products or services in the physical store and represented ~85% of the retail sales in the country.
I heard first-hand the challenges these business owners faced when it comes to marketing their stores and getting new customers into the store. That inspired me to create a marketing platform that was simple to use, yet effective in driving results for brick-and-mortar businesses.
How do you envision SKALE to become the ultimate go-to marketing solution for both brick and mortar SMEs and enterprises?
We recognize that brick and mortar SMEs are at a very different phase of digitalization from that of an enterprise. Some enterprises have started adopting solutions in-store that allows them to capture customer data or even track in-store sales conversion whereas many of the SME brick and mortar businesses are still at the early stages.
In order to empower both brick and mortar SMEs and enterprises, SKALE’s platform is designed to accommodate brick and mortar businesses across all stages of digitization and requires no integration with existing cashier systems for it to work seamlessly.
More importantly, in order to be the go-to marketing platform for all brick-and-mortar businesses, SKALE is empowering marketers, agencies and associations that are working with these businesses- with SKALE’s technology so that we can collectively drive success.
What positive impacts do you think SKALE is able to drive and how do you plan to initiate them?
SKALE’s mission is to be able to empower brick-and-mortar businesses to be able to drive footfall and sales, grow a customer database and keep their customers returning.
To do that, SKALE allows businesses to be able to launch geo-fencing ads to capture the most actionable shoppers near their store. Brick and mortar businesses can effectively incentivize shoppers to visit the store and convert through SKALE’s app-less Digital Vouchers and track sales conversion across multiple touchpoints, be it with the scanning of a unique QR Code, pin code, voucher redemption or through a receipt upload.
In particular, SKALE allows brick-and-mortar businesses to capture a wealth of customer data from each interaction and be able to utilize these information to keep their customers coming back or to upsell / cross-sell.
How does SKALE stand out as a specialised digital marketing platform for brick and mortar businesses and how does it continue to drive tangible results for its users?
There are many marketing platforms out there, but they tend to drive greater impact for ecommerce businesses where data and a shopper’s interaction is easily trackable. In the brick and mortar world, these interactions and shopper behaviour are often not tracked and brick and mortar businesses stand to lose out on the same opportunities that are made available to ecommerce players.
Beyond being able to drive footfall and trackable sales, SKALE allows businesses to act upon the customer data that is being captured with each offline interaction (e.g. voucher download, redemption, scanning of QR code, receipt upload) and trigger targeted SMS / email to these shoppers to remind them to visit the store, or to introduce new products and promotions.
Data is only as important as how we want to use it, and SKALE is the platform that helps these businesses acquire the data and offers them a myriad of ways to utilize these data to drive tangible results.
What was the thought process like while designing and creating the SKALE platform?
From the onset, we knew that in order for the platform to be effective for brick and mortar businesses, it must not first require any integration with their existing cashier or POS systems. We also knew that the challenge was in acquiring new shoppers, and not just retaining existing shoppers. This was incredibly important in defining how we created the SKALE platform.
What challenges and successes did you face along the way since starting this entrepreneurial endeavour?
One of the key challenges we experienced was with changing Brick and Mortar SME’s perception that Digital Marketing only works for ecommerce businesses, and that it is unable to drive the same impact for physical stores. This is however untrue and there are many ways brick and mortar businesses can promote their brands online yet drive impact in-store with the right platform.
Throughout this journey, we have had significant success working with numerous brick and mortar businesses including malls, consumer good brands and retailers big and small. We were able to help brands drive in-store success and achieve 10x – 30x returns on their marketing. Notably, SKALE was able to work with a mall group to drive 7 digit sales for its tenants within a month
How will your vision affect SKALE’s growth and how do you plan to increase brand presence in SEA key markets?
In order to grow our brick and mortar users, SKALE is working closely and empowering marketers, agencies and SME brick and mortar associations in the region – with SKALE’s technology so that we can collectively drive success in the ecosystem. In addition to our presence in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines, we are also excited about opening up new offices in other South East Asia markets to continuously acquire and enable more brick and mortar brands.
What does the future of SKALE look like and what can users look forward to moving forward?
Our mission is to enable brick and mortar businesses, big and small to drive success in the store. This year, our users can look forward to even more initiatives to help support SMEs that are badly affected by the pandemic. In 2021, SKALE was able to bring together a few hundred retailers in Singapore in a nationwide digital voucher sale event, named VoucherFest and this year, SKALE looks forward to bringing together even more retailers in Malaysia to jointly drive footfall recovery and sales.
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