Big on beauty
Homegrown e-commerce website Hermo is the nex t big thing, writes S yahir ah M okhtazar
IREAD a recent online post that went viral about women asking their boyfriends or male friends to identify what a beauty blender is. The responses were naturally hilarious, withmen notbeing able to tell whatthe egg-shaped objectis and whatitdoes.
Some thought it was a clown’s nose. Another thoughtitwas an apple.
The postconfirmed the age-old suspicion: mostmen are woefully ignorantwhen itcomes to beauty products and accessories. Why would they bother anyway, right?
Butit’s a differentcase for Ian Chua and his business partners Ian Mok and P.S. Chong. If you approachthem and ask them to differentiate between BB cream and CC cream, they may justblow your mind with the correct answer, even furnishing you withextra details.
How is that so? Well, the trio are the founders of one of Malaysia’s leading e-commerce beauty website called Hermo.
While Chua is chief executive officer, Mok is chief operating officer and Chong is vice-president.
GOING FOR IT
In an interview, Chua recalled paying multiple visits to beauty stores like Sasa, in the early days of Hermo, to learn more about beauty products.
“Itwas tough. There were so many products in the store! I didn’tunderstand why there are suchthings as nightand day cream. I didn’t know the difference,” he said.
Hermo was established in 2012, withthe founders inspired by the growing beauty online business in China.
Dubbed as a one-stop platform for all things beauty, the online site makes shopping for beauty enthusiasts a breeze as ithas a wide range of beauty products from various countries.
“We knew we wanted to startan e-commerce site butwe didn’tknow exactly what to focus on. So we started by shortlisting the categories.
“We know women love to shop. So itwas dividing the categories into fashion, clothes and accessories. Later, we settled on cosmetics,” he said.
While the Hermo headquarters is in Johor, ithas an office in Kuala Lumpur as well. Ithas also expanded its offices to Singapore and Indonesia.
“We wantto reachmore online customers as we believe thatthe future of retail is driven by e-commerce. We source for good products withaffordable prices to provide more value to customers.
“Being Malaysians, we want to supportlocal brands too, so we’re looking into bringing several local brands on board,” said Chua.
To date, Hermo has partnered with international brands like L’Oreal. Most recently, itbroughtin NYX, another famous and affordable brand.
“It was quite a challenge to get these brands on board as you need to give them the assurance that it generates a lot of users.
“The firstinternational brand to come on board was Naruko from Taiwan. We paid a visitto its office multiple times to convince itto say ‘yes’.
“Besides L’Oreal, we have popular Korean brands like innisfree, Laneige, Yadah, 3CE and Holika Holika. They have the best-selling products on the website.”
ONLINE VS OFFLINE
So how does an e-commerce beauty site compete withphysical stores?
“Whatwe provide atHermo is a userfriendly experience. We provide one to three days of shipping, whichmeans it’s easy to get products from abroad which aren’tavailable here. Plus itsaves time,” said Chua.
“I believe thateveryone will ultimately navigate towards buying beauty products online.
“As a homegrown company, our ultimate goal is to become the number one cosmetics e-commerce site here.”
When asked aboutthe nextbig beauty name that Hermo will be bringing in, Chua just smiled and said “it’s a secret”.