However, challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic put Epitex’s track to success on hold. The company had to find ways to reach customers and maintain or expand its revenues to stay afloat. We sit down with Judy to find out more about her journey as an entrepreneur and how Epitex overcame the obstacles presented in the past two years.
Hi Judy, thanks for your time. Can you describe what Epitex does?
Sure! We are a bedroom linen company that has been serving the Singapore market since 1997. Our customers love Epitex for our wide variety of items, which ranges from bed linens to items like pillows, mattresses and protectors. To keep things affordable, we offer perks like free deliveries for purchases over SGD80 and luxurious bedding accessories at lower prices.
What’s special about your products?
We have a huge range of products and use some of the latest technologies to offer comfort for our customers.
Sleeping and resting spaces like bedrooms are extremely personal to each individual. We give customers more choices when it comes to creating comfortable spaces to rest and sleep. Our product range allows customers to find a bedroom accessory for diverse needs—from bedsheets with cartoon designs for children to hypoallergenic fabrics for people with skin conditions.
Our products are also elastic and cooling, which helps people get a better night’s sleep amid the warm and humid climate of Singapore. For example, our Bamboo Collection of bedroom linens uses 100% bamboo fibre, creating sheets that do not trap heat under the fabric and deters dust mites and allergens.
Your business was growing rapidly until the pandemic hit. Can you tell us what it was like?
It was a nerve-wrecking experience, to be honest. We had been selling our products through our 21 retail stores located island wide but they had to close due to the Circuit Breaker. During those times, our stores saw little to no footfall and our revenues plummeted as a result. We had been planning our move to e-commerce for a while, but it was during Singapore’s lockdown measures that we accelerated our efforts. The pandemic was truly a wake-up call for me and the business.
That must have been difficult. Were you facing any other challenges as well?
I was looking to grow the business too. I wanted to improve our brand exposure in the local market and overseas, in countries like Malaysia and Vietnam. Offline, our company could only reach customers through sales teams, word-of-mouth and marketing materials like brochures and advertisements. We wanted to find new approaches to boost our reach and put our brand out there in front of more customers.
So how did Epitex solve these issues with e-commerce?
My team and I created an online retail strategy with two aims. The first was to improve our branding by revamping our website. The second was to work with online marketplaces, like Amazon.sg, to boost our reach and improve our sales—especially in disruptive times like COVID-19.
With our website, we raised our profile by showcasing our latest lines of products that offer great comfort for resting and sleeping. Then, our store on Amazon.sg helps to directly sell our products in the low to medium price categories to customers and also brings traffic to our website.
Why did you choose Amazon.sg?
Amazon.sg is a very established brand name. It has over 200 million Prime members and 300 million shoppers worldwide, which helps potentially expose Epitex to thousands of customers in Singapore and beyond.
Furthermore, Prime membership allows us to connect with customers who tend to spend more. We can also leverage events like Prime Day and Black Friday to accelerate our sales through our Amazon.sg store.
How fast did your e-commerce strategy take off?
Within six months, we hired e-commerce marketers, who sat down with web developers and sales teams, to plan how to transform our website to become more attractive, informative and user-friendly.
For our online store, an Amazon.sg team, including ad consultants and account managers, guided our staff on every step of the way – from uploading items on the site and launching our store to running marketing campaigns. Amazon.sg account managers have been incredibly helpful in getting our online selling strategy up and running quickly.
Are you happy with your e-commerce transformation?
Absolutely. With e-commerce, we have bounced back from our challenges in the pandemic and continued to grow our business.
On Amazon.sg, we are promoting our products to more customers and driving more sales. Currently, our online store has 80% of our full product range. To promote them continuously, Amazon.sg ad consultants and our staff have been working closely to use tools like keyword optimisation. The ad consultants recommended keywords and paid campaign adjustments to help our customers find the right Epitex products for themselves quickly and easily. In October 2022, we received 200% more impressions than the previous month thanks to Amazon.sg’s ad consultants’ advice.
We also rode on Amazon.sg events that helped us our share latest promotions and new items. For instance, we participated in Amazon.sg House, an interactive event showcase held at Singapore’s Suntec City in November 2022 ahead of Black Friday. At the event, we displayed our products sold exclusively on Amazon.sg, such as our Egyptian cotton bedsheet set, to customers and encouraged them to buy with promotions like a 15% Epitex storewide discount.
That’s great news. Has it resulted in more sales too?
In October, a quarter of our overall online sales came from Amazon.sg. We are also seeing bigger ticket sales on the online store. Before Amazon.sg, the average value of the order was between SGD 100 – SGD300. Now that figure has risen to SGD200 – SGD300.
Customers are also buying more from us. Offline, the average number of items they buy is two, but it has increased to as much as three via Amazon.sg.
Are there any perks you’d like to share about using Amazon.sg?
For starters, we have successfully lowered our business costs. Amazon.sg initiatives like the seller strategy program and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) have helped to lower expenses such as commissions and logistical manpower and equipment. For example, we outsource part of our order fulfilment to FBA, reducing the need to purchase, pick, pack and deliver using our own resources.
Together, with return on investment on our marketing campaigns, the combined savings on operations, including logistics, is about 20%.
Now that you’ve overcome the pandemic’s challenges, what are your future plans?
It is definitely expansion. We have positioned ourselves to grow in the next few years. With the support of Amazon.sg, we are better equipped with the marketing and logistical capabilities to expand into new markets, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and possibly even the United States of America.
One final question. Being a busy female entrepreneur selling bedroom linens, what is your secret to a good night’s sleep?
I would say it’s a huge sense of satisfaction of building a business and overcoming challenges. When you work hard, you can rest well knowing that you’ve done your best to achieve what you believe in.
On a day-to-day basis, I also ensure that I consciously make time for my family and friends and to rest and recharge with some of my hobbies. It helps me disengage from my hectic schedule and puts my mind and body at ease.
Check out Epitex’s products for a good night’s sleep.