Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 21 November 2017


One of the most important sources of sales to retail stores is repeat customers. Though it knew it had many loyal supporters, Charcoal House found it difficult to improve the interactions it had with them. It also had to do so in a cost-effective way

The retailer of bamboo charcoal products, ranging from healthcare to bedding, was using e-mails and phone calls to engage them, which was not effective enough.

It also had to find a way to reduce occasions when stocks were unavailable in retail outlets selling its products. This meant potential customers walked away because they could not buy what they wanted.

Staff can now easily identify regular customers, and serve them better

“We knew we had to improve the experience for customers, by making use of new digital tools that integrated with our retail stores more seamlessly,” said Ms Angela Ho, owner of Charcoal House. “Luckily, there are some proven digital options readily available to SMEs.”

The company turned to the Dodoca Integrated Mobile Marketing & Productivity Solution. This built-in customer relationship management (CRM) system enabled it to capture customer information such as name, WeChat ID, e-mail address and mobile phone number for more targeted marketing efforts.

Staff learnt to analyse, filter and make sense of the data collected. They can now easily identify regular customers through a review of their transaction history to better serve them. They can also plan ahead for promotions for VIP customers.

At the same time, Charcoal House set up a WeShop, the equivalent of an e-commerce shopfront, within the WeChat messaging platform. This brought in new customers who could browse and buy directly within the WeChat app.

This online shop is also complementary to the traditional retail channel. It enables Charcoal House to execute its own marketing strategies without the need to engage external agencies. As a result, it cut 30 per cent in marketing costs.

Value-add service make easy

To solve the problem of customers not finding stocks at a shop, Charcoal House rolled out an auto-booking function. Shoppers can book a slot to collect their purchases at retail outlets, without requiring a staff to manually set up an appointment. This has saved staff half a working day to sort out these bookings, as they had to do in the past.

“Going digital is not as hard as it seems,” said Ms Angela Ho. “Seeing how it has impacted our business, I wonder why we had not tried to transform it easier with the tools available.”

Visit SMEs Go Digital Programme for a list of Pre-approved Digital Solutions, or find out more about Accreditation@SGD.