From the perspective of Christopher Madiam, Co-Founder & President of Social Bella (Sociolla).
The pandemic has become the momentum of accelerating digital transformation in multiple fields. How can digital transformation develop in the beauty tech industry?
The development of digitalization is not always about shifting from offline to online; it is also the integration of many things. Although Indonesia’s income per capita is not yet the biggest in Asia, digital adoption in our country is relatively successful. Also, mobile phone ownership grows more exponentially in Indonesia compared to other countries. The pandemic has accelerated the demand to shift from offline to online. In the beauty industry, it is crucial to provide a combined experience in which customers cannot tell the difference between online and offline shopping. We need to be able to provide the best from both worlds.
In our case, online platforms are limiting customers’ shopping experience because our customers would need to physically touch and feel our products with their own hands before making purchases. Therefore, we do not favor online extensions but rather integrate our onsite store with online technology to give a more nuanced shopping experience.
In the midst of digital acceleration and transformation, Sociolla keeps developing and expanding onsite outlets in multiple places. What are the long-term goals that you plan to achieve?
We are certainly motivated to provide a different experience. Many people focus on changing things in the next 10-15 years. However, many also forget that some things will remain unchanged, such as the retail industry. The retail industry was established hundreds of years ago and will remain to thrive in the future, so it needs to start adopting digitalization. Accordingly, we thrive to serve our customers in the most holistic fashion that allows them to physically touch and try the product themselves, although technology like AR (Augmented Reality) is now trending.
Those are the reasons we keep opening new offline outlets, particularly stores with minor or no presence in the market. Nevertheless, since we are a digital company, we do not need too many outlets because they only stand as an experience store. Meanwhile, product purchasing has been digitized, so the difference between online and offline shopping is non-existent.
What kind of synergies are created between Sociolla and other stakeholders in order to support digital distribution to regional areas?
Our business is beyond retail and online marketplace. We also have our distribution network that operates directly from modern retail channels to convenience stores, department stores, and even traditional stores across Indonesia. It is one of our ambitions to establish retribution centers in 21 cities in Indonesia. We are expanding these retribution centers to multiple cities using one application to assist them. As we know, traditional stores, particularly in suburban areas, give considerable economic contributions. Though, it is not the same case in Jakarta where almost all transactions are accessible from customer data. Among other things, we are supporting digital sharing as we believe it allows for more efficient operation, which eventually expands our business and creates better job opportunities for the workforce in areas with our presence.
What business strategies does Sociolla prepare as a beauty tech company to keep improving the quality of your products and services while integrating them with digital roles?
We dedicate our substantial strategy this year to sustainability, which is a vital element. For us, sustainability encompasses business and all things we do, especially the environment. The next 10 years is a crucial period that will see a soaring amount of wasted packaging in addition to overconsumption. Digitalization has brought huge impacts because some people make decisions to purchase simply because they see social media influencers are buying; despite whether or not the product would suit them. We educate the community about this issue in a mission to reduce waste, and this year we aim at cutting down e-commerce over-dependency on bubble wrap. Therefore, we try to figure out a sustainable and delivery-proof alternative packaging to bubble wrap. We also expect to reuse paper. If we can do those things, it also becomes one of the good ways to support environmental sustainability.