During the National Day celebration in 2022, a local retailer specializing in Jigsaw Puzzles showcased their remarkable achievement of creating a 6-meter-long map of Malaysia using intricately assembled puzzle pieces. This exceptional accomplishment garnered significant attention, leading to its inclusion in the prestigious Malaysia Book of Records. Major media outlets promptly covered the event, resulting in widespread discussion and making it a prominent and engaging topic of interest throughout the nation.
It is worth noting that this particular jigsaw puzzle retail brand has successfully maintained a robust presence in the local market for a span of 10 years.
Puzzle Planet, is a brand that has etched its success story through tenacious progress, starting humbly as a small mobile booth and evolving into a well-established physical store. Their journey took an exciting turn during the challenging COVID-19 period when they swiftly adapted to the times and ventured into the online realm, paving the way for their innovative New Online and Offline Retail Model.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Exabytes’ new retail team, Mr. Tang Wai Loon, the Managing Partner and CEO of Puzzle Planet, shed light on the company’s vision for the future.
The brand’s ambitions reach far beyond the confines of the Klang Valley, as they have set their sights on nationwide expansion in the coming three years. With a strong desire to connect with puzzle enthusiasts in various cities across the country, Puzzle Planet aims to unravel the joy of puzzling to every corner of the nation, leaving no piece unconnected in their quest to bring delight to puzzle enthusiasts far and wide.
Adapting to the ever-evolving landscape; Innovating a path towards a promising future
Locating a specialized store for jigsaw puzzles similar to Puzzle Planet is quite challenging in Malaysia. During a discussion about the establishment of Puzzle Planet, Mr. Tang expressed his passion for model kits and puzzles. He realised, before Puzzle Planet existed, it was hard for the general public to find jigsaw puzzles as they could only get them from bookstores or toy shops
While visiting Taiwan, Mr. Tang’s encounter with a captivating plastic puzzle sparked an idea. Intrigued by its uniqueness, he realized that such innovative products were yet to make their mark in Malaysia. In 2012, he founded Puzzle Planet with the vision of making high-quality plastic puzzles accessible to a wider audience in the country.
However, Mr. Tang acknowledged the challenges faced by Puzzle Planet due to the scarcity of local jigsaw puzzle stores. With few existing businesses to learn from, they embarked on their journey without a comprehensive operational framework or industry know-how. Operating with limited guidance, Puzzle Planet navigated the complexities of running a successful jigsaw puzzle retail business, striving to establish a complete operational system from scratch.
Puzzle Planet embarked on an entrepreneurial journey akin to navigating a river by feeling the stones. Mr. Tang reminisced about the initial five years of the brand’s establishment, during which they actively engaged in a multitude of activities. Traversing between the bustling locales of Klang Valley and Penang, Puzzle Planet tirelessly sought to enhance its reputation and expand its customer base as their primary objective was to foster customer understanding of their products.
“I often remind the team that we mustn’t linger in our comfort zone indefinitely, or we risk being swiftly overtaken by others. That’s why it’s crucial for us to constantly innovate, offering customized products to our valued customers, and expanding the diversity of our product range,” said Mr. Tang.
100% Offline? Or 100% Online? The integration of Online and Offline retail fulfils the demands of the current era.
The puzzle retail industry thrives on delivering exceptional product experiences, which made the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 particularly challenging for Puzzle Planet. Mr. Tang explained that despite having already established their own website prior to the pandemic, it was not a focal point of their operations.
“Before the pandemic, our primary focus was on the growth of our physical stores, and our website served more as an online catalogue. Due to this lack of preparedness, when the government implemented the MCO, our team found themselves in a state of panic,” Mr. Tang revealed.
Mr. Tang added that during the initial stages of the MCO, many customers were unable to visit physical stores, compelling them to turn to online shopping as an alternative. Unfortunately, Puzzle Planet’s website was not adequately optimized at the time. The information provided was insufficient, inventory listings were incomplete, and the loading speed fell short of expectations.
“Following the customer complaints, we took immediate action to address the situation. This led us to delve into the realm of digital transformation and new retail, seeking ways to enhance Puzzle Planet’s business model.”
Mr. Tang emphasized that this incident served as a pivotal realization for Puzzle Planet regarding the significance of adopting an integrated online and offline new retail model. He acknowledged that in the current era, no retail business should solely rely on either offline or online operations. Instead, it is crucial to synergize the two approaches in order to effectively cater to customer demands.
Mr. Tang explained, “conducting business operations both online and offline is essential. Sales representatives must facilitate product experiences and comprehension within physical stores while simultaneously providing customers with constant online access to product information. Only by embracing the New Retail model can we effectively meet the evolving demands of the present times.”
A business should adopt a broad perspective to achieve a win-win situation.
“While jigsaw puzzles may be perceived by the general public as a leisurely board game to nurture temperament, Puzzle Planet recognizes their profound impact in effectively stimulating the development of both the left and right brain hemispheres. Engaging with puzzles not only aids in relieving the pressures of daily life and work but also fosters the cultivation of patience and offers numerous other benefits.” said Mr. Tang.
“Puzzles have undergone astonishing changes. At Puzzle Planet, we strive to introduce more people to the uniqueness of puzzles. Moreover, our product range boasts remarkable diversity. Aside from offering traditional jigsaw puzzles suitable for wall display, we also innovate by transforming puzzles into functional items like key rings, vases, clocks, and other everyday essentials.”
Mr. Tang highlighted Puzzle Planet’s strategic plan to extend their reach beyond the Klang Valley and establish physical stores in various states across Malaysia within the next three years. This expansion aims to ensure that puzzle enthusiasts from all corners of the country have convenient access to their diverse range of products.
“In our future endeavours, we also aim to collaborate with local painters and photographers,” Mr. Tang revealed. “By transforming their remarkable artworks into puzzles, we can help showcase their creations to a wider audience.”
He further expressed his admiration for the abundance of potential and talented painters and photographers in Malaysia, emphasizing the exceptional quality of their works. However, Mr. Tang expressed regret that many of these outstanding creations remain unseen by the world due to the artists’ limited ability to transform them into marketable products.
“Therefore, we, Puzzle Planet, are willing to give unwavering support to artists to establish connections with the consumer market. Through the creation of puzzles, we aim to provide a platform for artists where their works can garner widespread visibility and appreciation, achieving a win-win situation.”
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