VisionPlus in conversation with Mr. Chin San Lee. He has been an experienced conqueror in the optical field for more than 15 years and his business skills have deeply influenced the industry
His career kick started in the year 2000 with Pentax frames. In the year 2001, he was offered a partnership and then in 2006, he obtained sole distributorship of contact lens care products by Alcon Laboratory. Mr. Chin San Lee has always loved challenges. In the year 2007, he formed a business of his own with brands ‘Scoreye’ and ‘masarata’ that strongly stood grounds in the domestic market.
Spec Zone, his own entity has since then been featuring big brands and collaborating with them.
Lee’s achievements are to be listed in golden words and it can be a source of inspiration for all.
VisionPlus: To begin with, your entry into the optical field, was it by chance, or a dream realisation? How did S & Z Eyewear come into existence? What was the driving force behind its launch?
Mr. Lee: It was by chance that I stepped into the optical field. I was introduced by a senior to one of the branded optical frames company in year 2000. S & Z Eyewear Sdn Bhd was the last name of my eldest daughter and second son, Shun and Zhan. The Mandarin meaning for these two characters is smooth development of a business, and this is what I’m aiming for.
VP: A brief insight to its beginning, and the challenges faced and how did you combat it.
L: Malaysian optical field is very challenging business. It was not as easy as I had thought when I started the business. It very much depends on the relationship between the optical retailers and yourself, fortunately, we managed to build up a strong relationship and had loyal customers that continuously supported us and provided us with valuable feedback right from the word go.
Customer Relationship Management is one of the business strategies that I always strive to achieve. As I have always emphasised on prompt service to customers, reverting to customer requests and deliver their orders at the soonest. We are still searching for good courier companies to work with, in order to ensure prompt delivery of eyewear to our valuable and loyal customers.
VP: How have you maintained your balance between sunglasses and frames?
L: Actually, we are producing both sunglasses and optical frames, and we are striving to produce good quality, comfortable, trendy and fashionable eyewear. Currently, we have few optical frames manufacturing business partners who are able to produce and manufacture quality products that meet our requirement standards. Over the years, we have built a strong brand image and strengthened our brand position in the domestic market.
It is another story for sunglasses, as consumers prefer international brands in comparison to local brands. We are unable to compete on sunglass pricing with the international brands. This is because of the high production cost that is incurred to meet the high quality standard and huge investment for building up a strong brand image and brand awareness among the consumers.
We are continuously trying our very best to achieve the pricing competitiveness and review our marketing strategies in order to gain better market share in the sunglasses segment.
VP: Tell us about the brand Masarata , Melissa? The USP, its acceptance/ popularity in the domestic / international market? What is the competition like for SZ products? What is the positioning of your brand in the region?
L: masarata, is our signature brand. It is the fusion of elegance and performance. The titanium designs from Japan, excellent in corrosion resistance, durability, antiallergic, lightweight with exquisite design properties. Majority of masarata titanium series are manufactured by using titanium block enhancing the durability of the optical frame by minimising the welding points that enables the temples to be more flexible. The unique fusion of advance technology, ION plating and IP coating enhances the quality and durability of these frames.
masarata- X series, thin steel structured foundation, formed in lens, temples and structural design with precision surface handling technique that reflects in every eyewear.
Every thin steel model’s structure is the designer’s meticulous innovation which fully display the original innovation in design.
Mellisa by masarata is another optical range expansion from masarata titanium, catering specially to the female market segment. The unique frame designs emphasise on adventurous colourful and veins application.
VP: What are your expansion plans for the brand? Any strategies in place?
L: Currently, we are engaging in expansion through cooperation with few strategic alliances with whom we have worked for years and still looking for potential alliances to adopt and capitalise on their expertise in the advance technology and vanguard designs to produce quality, comfortable and trendy eyewear. For each brand, we will design few series extension to cater for different market segments, for example Executive range, Sporty range and etc. There will be at least three session launching of new designs for each brand every year. Unrelenting searching for advance technology, unique designs creation and wearing comfortability are our primary goals.
VP: Any plans for collaborations overseas?
L: We are looking forward to potential opportunities to expand beyond the national boundaries, by actively participating in different countries’ optical exhibitions, optical seminars and talks to exhibit our products in the global marketplace. We are in the midst of expansion through internationalization and transformation of moving abroad with our local brands.
We are constantly searching for energetic and vigorous sales force to join our team especially in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
VP: You have partnered with international optical brands, such as Trussadi, X-ide and Fossil. Elaborate.
L: There are few valuable experiences we learnt from the international business collaboration, such as how to target the correct market segment, brand management, brand positioning, advertising, marketing, promotion etc. From the business collaboration, we also learnt that the design concept, colour application, material and technology used to produce the frames and sunglasses vary from Europe and Asia, especially on the eye shape, nose pad, length of temple and colour of the whole eyewear etc.
From the experience, we established our own marketing and promotion concepts for our house brands, for example we design different casing for different frame designs and optical series, stylish and frequent update on our advertisement, trade mark registration, build our own branding and set new positioning strategies for our brands in the domestic market.
VP: You had collaborated with Abbott Medical Optics as contact lens and eye care products distributor. How has your experience been in this area.
L: In this FMCG line, timely delivery of goods and service is crucial. From this business collaboration we learnt that not only time is money but it is most important to speed up our service. Not only to get the sales order, but also the after sales service which is important for overall customer relationship management. Another valuable lesson learnt from all the business collaboration is that, simpler the hierarchy of an organisation, the faster is decision making and problem solving. Therefore, we keep a simple hierarchy in our organisation to ensure elasticity, efficiency and effectiveness of our management.
VP: Anything more you need to add and inform our readers?
L: No doubt we are a Malaysian brand, but we are constantly striving our best to bring good quality, comfortable and fashionable products to our people. So, I sincerely hope that our potential and valuable customers will spare some time and give opportunity for our sales and marketing team to introduce our eyewear to them.