People take courses so as to add more credentials to their names. But for me, it is to learn how to manage people and to enrich oneself.
Discover SIM GE Roger Yuen (man in black) with Clozette staff during the launch of the Web site What women want is to emulate the grace and stylish fashion of Kate Middleton. If they can’t get a nose job to have Kate’s facial profile, at least they want to dress like her and carry the same brand of handbag (a Mulberry). Virtual closet Technology entrepreneur Roger Yuen, 55, offers the women a closet on his Web site Clozette.co where they can stuff virtual Mulberry bags and other fashionable things used by Kate and other celebrity ladies, and share their discoveries with friends. Roger, who started this social shopping and networking site with some partners 2-1/2 years ago, says that on Clozette you have 3,500 brands to browse, from hand bags to shoes to clothes to make-up products and fashion accessories. “We have over 250,000 users across the region,” he says at his spartan office off Upper Paya Lebar Road. He employs 20 people, including Web designers and developers, and online marketers, to manage Clozette which has proved popular with teenagers and young working women. Unlike Amazon, Clozette is not a merchandise seller; it doesn’t have handbags, clothes, warehouses, forklifts and container lorries. Instead, it handles referral sales. When a woman clicks to buy a product featured on Clozette, she goes directly to the merchant or supplier where she places the order, makes payment and specifies the delivery. Clozette simply collects a referral commission. “We’re still in the investment phase,” says Roger. “But we expect profits by 2014.” Fifth P in marketing The shrewd business owner is a graduate of SIM’s Diploma in Management Studies. Although he completed his part-time two-year course in 1986, Roger says the concepts he learnt remain relevant when managing Clozette. “For instance, I learnt the four P’s in marketing are product, price, place and promotion. But now in my business, there’s a fifth P, which is People. And in my business, People means women consumers who browse and use my Web site.” Roger says he needs to understand women’s psyche and apply this knowledge to Clozette. “For instance, in the fashion business, we should never sell technology to women, no matter how sexy it is. Technology must be transparent. What women want is not the technology for its sake but rather how it improves their user experience on our site,” he says. “The latest technology, no matter how marvellous, if irrelevant, is just a solution looking for a problem, not a solution for existing problems.” On further education, he says, “People take courses so as to add more credentials to their names. But for me, it is to learn how to manage people and to enrich oneself.” Clozette is now on an expansion spree, after securing a S$2.4 million funding in 2012. It will launch localised sites in Thailand and Vietnam in the first quarter of 2013, in addition to its network of sites in Japan and Indonesia. It is also talking to potential partners in Europe and even in Russia. Story by Chia Yong Hong, 24, second-year student with SIM-RMIT Bachelor of Business (Economics & Finance) Interview in January, published in VIBES March 2013