Retail Hero Chapter 6: VARIANTE
Although he has 21 years of retail experience, he could not sell a single product during the pandemic. Fortunately, he later decided to adopt an open mindset, embraced new concepts and ideas, and finally succeeded in saving his business through digital marketing.
VARIANTE’s founder, Leslie Variyan laughed and said that he used to be an “old antique” with old thinking until the pandemic changed his mind. He can now say with certainty that digital transformation is the future direction of the retail industry, and the traditional retail business model will be completely replaced one day.
I followed my mother to shop for fabrics from a young age
Founded in 2005, VARIANTE, a ready-to-wear fashion brand, provides trendy and elegant fashion for women in the new era, highlighting women’s personality and charm.
The journey by which Leslie entered the fashion industry can be described as the best example of “one’s character is formed at a young age.” When he was a child, his mother would take him to the fabric store to buy fabrics and tailor their own clothing.
Leslie Variyan said that his mother had always had an eye for fabrics and colors, and he felt in love with fashion design from a young age. Having been dazzled by his childhood experience, he then devoted himself to the fashion design industry.
VARIANTE firmly believes that fashion design should not only make the customers look more appealing, but should also highlight their personality. Thus by wearing VARIANTE clothing, you can show your personal charm and be different in a crowd.
Leslie Variyan emphasized that “customer first” is the core of VARIANTE’s business maxim. Based on customer feedback, the VARIANTE team will discuss meticulously and do their best to satisfy customer tastes and preferences.
“If customers ask for a style that we don’t have at the moment, then we will have a discussion at the weekly meeting. As long as it is within our ability, we will do it.”
The pandemic opens the door for digital transformation
VARIENTE’s goal is to become a reputable women’s fashion brand in the global market. Currently, it is focused on becoming a leading brand in Southeast Asia.
In view of this, in the era of global retail digital transformation, it is a wise move for VARIENTE to switch to an OMO (Online-Merge-Offline) business model.
However, before the epidemic, Leslie thought that using an online store to drive sales performance was a mere fantasy. “In my time, everyone believed that if you want a successful business, you need to open more physical stores. The more, the better. I used to run my business with this old thinking in mind.”
However, the pandemic has brought down the entire brick-and-mortar retail industry. With the restriction of the MCO (movement control order), VARIENTE’s business performance plunged.
Despite poor sales performance, the rents of each physical store were snowballing. Leslie Variyan, at the suggestion of a business partner, began live selling on social media. This opened the door for VARIENTE’s digital transformation.
“After gaining positive results, we started to set up our own website and do product shooting.”
The Unlimited Potential of OMO (Online-Merge-Offline)
When asked about the challenges of digital transformation, Leslie Variyan said that outsourcing companies can be hired for website creation and that photography is his interest. So the real challenge of his job lies in figuring out how to effectively conduct digital marketing to 32 million people across the country.
He added that in the process, he learned to have an open mindset, listen to the opinions of young people, and discuss various digital marketing solutions together, while constantly improving himself, learning, and absorbing new knowledge.
At present, Leslie runs his business via an online store and seven physical stores. Although currently the physical stores have a relatively more significant performance, Leslie Variyan believes that his traditional brick-and-mortar stores will be surpassed by his online store sooner or later, and the commercial potential brought by Online-Merge-Offline (OMO) is unlimited.
Hold on to your dreams and never give up
After the epidemic, Leslie Variyan realized the wisdom of making changes for the better and the importance of embracing the new era.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Amid future uncertainties, as long as we believe in the goals we have set and persevere to the end, we can surely achieve our goals.”
For those who are interested in business or design, Leslie Variyan also suggests that everything should be planned in advance.
“Stick to your choice, and never give up. If you don’t plan ahead, you’re doomed. Let’s do it together!”
Be our retail hero now
Every retail brand has a great story behind it. Let’s be our Retail Hero and your experience now. Preview the Retail Hero official website for more Retail Hero Stories and nominate the retail brand you love.