Staying relevant amidst a challenging market

  • BusinessToday speaks to Zane Lee, Vice President, Skechers Southeast Asia on what 2020 was like for Skechers and what it means for a business to stay relevant in this day and age
  • How does Skechers differentiate itself from its competitors and what are Malaysian’s perception towards Skechers? How do they identify with Skechers’ products?

Comfort and classic are top of our Malaysian consumers’ minds, based on a research by Euromonitor 2019 carried out at Skechers SEA level.

Our key USP lies in the technologies that highlights the comfortability – we are well known for the Memory Foam, Air Cooled Goga Mat technologies – the extra cushioning, lightweight features and some are even machine washable – these are what makes our brand a favourite.

In meeting consumer demands for comfortable and stylish athleisure wear – we have a wide range that caters to our customers from varied profiles.  

The Go Walk series from the Performance range has been our best-selling range of walking shoes and we have launched our latest series Go Walk Smart this month.

We have launched exciting collaborations for eg Skechers One Piece and Sailor Moon collections, they were a hit and there will be more interesting up-coming collabs: soon Skechers x Jeremy Ville and Skechers x Hello Kitty by Q4 this year.

  • As Skechers continue to open up more stores, both lifestyle and concept stores, what are the factors that go into this decision?

There are many factors we look into when considering store expansions and thought processes are precise; from selection of location (store/mall to ensure locations have potential to drive relevant target audiences) to working with the right landlords and business partners are the key factors in consideration apart from us continuously striving to develop new range of products to meet consumers’ demands for comfort and yet stylish combination of athleisure assortment.   

  • There have been discussions in recent years that the brick-and-mortar concept has somewhat suffered and doesn’t contribute as much to sales, what’s that been like for Skechers?

While it is true that in general brick-and-mortar has received rather lukewarm responses (I wouldn’t say suffered) but for us, our brick-and-mortar comprises the largest percentage of our business in sales contribution. And thus, we cannot deny the fact that brick-and-mortar will still meet consumers’ preferences of shopping physically in-stores – we give consumers the shopping experiences on having to touch, feel and try the merchandise before purchasing – this is the experience they cannot achieve online.  

  • What has the y-o-y sales been like for 2020? Are there changes to the expected target for the year?

We are fortunate to say that we have had positive growth Y-O-Y. Of course, there have been changes to targets, with consistent reviews and close monitoring of the results for us to react to market changes and the very competitive retail environment.    

  • Can you share more on the in-store traffic and efforts to increase it and are you confident that the trend will continue in years to come?

It’s undeniable that Malaysians in general loves to visit shopping malls – this is wonderful to us as a retailer.

We have seen decrease of footfall post lockdown, which makes sense since many still felt skeptical to go out of home.

It takes 2 to tango – both retailer and mall landlord. While we play our role to offer wide range of merchandise and attractive promotions to stay relevant amidst the challenging market, it is also crucial for landlords to support their tenants in driving awareness and traffic to their malls.

And as consumers have now become even more cost conscious – buying when there are promotions. 

Shopping patterns have changed and nobody can be sure to say that the trend will continue in years to come, same like the pandemic, it hit everyone globally. We will have to react depending on market conditions.

  • How did you face the impact created by the Covid-19 outbreak, both operation and sales wise?

The Covid-19 outbreak has taught us many things – from responding very quickly at the beginning on setting the right SOPs (adhere to government’s requirements) in managing customer flow processes in-stores – all these affected the sales and operational procedures.

We have managed them well and we are fortunate to have colleagues in other countries in particularly China, who has imparted their experiences and knowledge on taking precautionary measures and steps to combat the impact of the outbreak. 

  • How well has e-commerce played a role in the growth of the company?

E-commerce has played a significant role especially during the lockdown where the sales channel was solely online via our marketplaces.

E-commerce will continue to play an important role in the business and as well as complementing brick-and-mortar business.

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