LoveLotsLuxury: SME Excellence Business Award & Singapore Consumer’s Choice Award 2022/2023
For luxury brand aficionados, getting their hands on a new luxury purse can be a real thrill. However, what do you do when the item that you have had your eyes on is no longer sold in the retail boutiques, or if you have a limited budget? Most would turn to preloved resellers instead, where they can still get their desired luxury pieces. Meet Lovelotsluxury, one of the leading players in the second-hand luxury retail in Singapore.
Founded in 2014 as a home business, it all started with Zhennie Tan’s and her husband Peter Ang’s love for luxury goods. Being luxury collectors themselves, Peter and Zhennie saw an opportunity to turn their no-longer wanted pieces into cash. At that time, there were no Facebook or Instagram livestreams yet. Carousell was also only in its infant stage, and was not as big as it was today. The two were using a local online reselling platform that no longer exists, as well as eBay for their international clients. Zhennie is a NUS graduate who majored in Architecture, while Peter was a professional golf player turned coach. The two did not necessarily have any business education or experience, but they learnt how to build the business from scratch. The business saw tremendous growth, and was then registered in 2018 as Lovelotsluxury. They can be found on their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Carousell.
“Our business is really built on trust and word of mouth,” says Peter. One would not have a hard time finding that out, as all their social media platforms are flooded with only positive reviews, landing them at the top of the pack. Zhennie attributes their excellent reputation to the preciseness of their item’s listing–something that is exceptionally important but easy to overlook in the e-commerce industry. “In general, when purchasing something online, you would want the seller to provide the clearest and most descriptive info possible,” Zhennie says. “This is especially true when it comes to luxury items that cost hundreds, up to thousands of dollars. Every single flaw and imperfection matters when dealing with preloved items. We would not want to create false expectations or put up a misleading listing.” They also implement a clear grading system to rank the condition of each item, and use technology such as Entrupy to further certify the authenticity of the items. This commitment to providing transparency is what rewarded them with their customers’ loyalty over the years.
A HUMBLE BEGINNING TURNED THREE SUCCESSFUL VENTURES
Not surprisingly, Peter and Zhennie share that 50-60% of their clients are actually not based in Singapore. They ship internationally to many of their customers who are based in the US, Canada, Australia, Brunei, and other countries around the world. To facilitate transactions for their international clients, they offer a layaway system. They also provide the option to buy in preloved items directly from customers who wish to sell, as well as a consignment system with fees ranging from $100-800. “This makes it affordable for those who wish to sell their luxury items, as we do not go by percentage,” explains Peter.
Apart from that, Lovelotsluxury also prides themselves in their superb service. The couple believes that service is of utmost importance. “Whether it’s a pair of $100 earrings or a $10,000 bag, we believe in providing equal service to every customer, regardless of how much they spend with us,” says Zhennie firmly. In order to ensure a consistently high level of service standard, Peter and Zhennie are pretty much involved in the daily operations of the business. They can often be found at Lovelotsluxury’s office showroom at Tripleone #03-41, 111 Somerset Road Singapore 238164. The two are also hands-on when it comes to replying customer’s queries on their various online platforms.
To Peter and Zhennie, their greatest sense of achievement lies in having grown the business from zero experience starting at their home, to where it is today. This is a testament to their strong commitment to continue sourcing the best pieces of luxury goods and providing the best service to their clients, many of whom have been supportive since their early days. From a humble home-based venture, Lovelots have now diversified their business into two other entities: Lovelotsdiamond and Lovelotslive.
L O V E L O T S D I A M O N D
Lovelotsdiamond was started in 2019, after Peter saw that there was an influx of fine jewellery (diamond & gemstones) being consigned by Lovelotsluxury’s clients. He saw it as a golden opportunity to expand the luxury business into another entity that focuses solely on diamonds and precious gemstones. Despite seeing many cross-over customers from Lovelotsluxury, many of whom are females below 50 years old, Peter notes that there is definitely a market segment for bespoke jewellery.
“Starting Lovelotsdiamond was a totally different experience for me,” says Peter. “Although I have a love for diamond jewellery but I knew nothing in depth about jewellery at that time. I then had to learn everything from scratch. Unlike bags and small leather goods, when it comes to dealing with diamonds and precious stones, you have to understand the quality of diamond and gemstones (color, clarity, diamond grade) and gold price. It is also an entirely different business model, so the learning curve was there.”
Peter notes that for jewellery, they have to be priced at a much more competitive price point to attract online customers. However, some customers are still more accustomed to the traditional experience of visiting a physical jewellery store, where the prices are usually marked up really high and would then be offered by the sales associates at a supposedly ‘discounted’ price. “Some customers may feel that they have snatched a good deal after the whole interaction, but actually over here, what we offer is an already very competitive price, since we do not do any significant mark-up.” Navigating a different set of target audiences is also deemed by Peter as another key to success.
To make their offerings more attractive, Lovelotsdiamond also offers twice complimentary ring size alteration & free one time maintenance service for every purchase. Similar to Lovelotsluxury, they also offer the same layaway system for clients who are located abroad.
Speaking of their next move, Peter says that some exciting business development is on the way. Peter and Zhennie are also taking it slow in terms of team expansion, as they cite maintaining the current service standard as their top priority. “Keeping the team small allows us to pay close attention to every detail and transaction, so we would like to err on the side of caution in terms of growing the manpower size. That being said, we are also looking at ways to build a team of professionals and operate in a way that would not compromise our service standard,” she explains.
To Peter, having the right voices around you is paramount to one’s success. “It is not just about having the right minds to tell you where you are going, but also a supportive team that will stand behind your decisions, celebrate with you through the success, and also help you rebound from the mistakes.” He believes that every decision made in regards to the business should be strategic and well thought-out, as every one of them can have real implications. In addition, he also believes in staying disciplined and having perseverance.
L O V E L O T S L I V E
Lovelotslive is the youngest baby and the latest addition to the Lovelots businesses. Started in 2021, Peter partnered with local celebrity and fellow entrepreneur Terence Cao. The two met through a mutual friend. Terence is no stranger to live streaming, as he has done so for his own e-commerce companies Sibay Shiok and Sibay Fit. In fact, Terence shares that Lovelotslive is currently Sibay Shiok’s largest business partner. When asked why he decided to join hands with Peter, Terence says that it was a “no-brainer” decision.
“Live streaming is what I would call a ‘pandemic baby’. It grew exponentially during the pandemic, where everybody was mostly staying at home and unable to visit physical stores for their shopping needs. But unlike a still image on a typical web listing, live streaming allows the merchant to interact directly with customers, bridging that unseen gap that was there previously. Sellers are able to share more details about the product in an interactive and engaging manner, and customers are more likely to purchase after seeing the item in action. Not to mention, people love the interactions as well,” he shares.
To Terence, the move to partner with Lovelotslive is a strategic one. “A recent study reports that in 2030, Singapore is predicted to have more millionaires per population than the US, China, and Australia, so there is definitely a large spending power to be tapped into. Luxury goods have always been seen as a sign of success for many, so it makes sense,” he clarifies further. As an actor, Terence is already a part of the luxury ecosystem, so it lends tons of credibility to the audience as well.
That being said, taking this step comes with its own challenges as well. Limited product knowledge is one of them. “During live streaming, it only takes one wrong move to negatively affect the company’s reputation, such as accidentally selling a fake luxury goods. That is why in-house authenticators are in place, to prevent such things from happening. We also engage technology such as Entrupy to double certify each item’s authenticity.” The existence of the physical showroom also comes in handy. Should they need any assistance, customers know who to reach out to and where to go, so they can purchase with confidence.
Lovelotslive is currently working on setting up a permanent satellite in Europe that will allow them to reach customers in Southeast Asian countries. “As Singaporeans, our strength lies in being bilingual, some are even multi-lingual. It is important to leverage on that,” says Terence. He shares that his network covers Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and he has future plans to collaborate with the local talents from these countries as well.
To Terence, being a part of Lovelotslive has allowed him to remain grounded. It also gives him a sense of satisfaction from being able to make creative calls, and most importantly, to provide a living for his staff members. When asked about his personal key to success, he has this to say. “Always stay humble. It is not always about how good you are, but how much opportunities people are willing to give you.” Terence also shares that doing live streaming is quite a bit different from acting on TV. While his acting gig requires him to memorise scripts and take on a persona for a role, live streaming allows Terence Cao’s authentic self to come through.
When asked for advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, both Peter and Terence have a few nuggets of wisdom to share. Peter does not believe in setting up a firm timeline to achieve success, or even to hit a certain number or sales target, because consumers’ behaviours are not always predictable. “Being a golf professional sportsman for the pass 16 years, I have learned that determination, perseverance and self believe is always the key paramount to success. On the road to success, it is often lonely and it might not always work out the way you anticipate it to be,” he shares. “Similarly, in business, you also need determination, perseverance and belief in things that you plan and execute! I always believe opportunities are always there for people who are ready.”
As for Terence, he encourages aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to be patient during this difficult time. “Right now, there is an economic downturn and the market is still chaotic. During the pandemic, so many businesses have shut down, while many others have also emerged–all fighting for the same five million populations of Singapore. This leads to an extremely competitive landscape,” he says. That being said, Terence believes that through patience and hard work, one can achieve success. “The most important thing is to know your own strengths. What is your USP? How can you hone it and capitalise on that? Do not pursue something just because a particular market segment is lucrative at the moment, but choose your own path based on your strengths and focus on it. Own who you are and what you have to bring to the table.”