Home Safe Home: Household-cleaning Brand Stands with the City Against COVID-19
As demand spiked for household cleaning products fuelled by the coronavirus, Timothy Cheung, Managing Director of SWIPE (Hong Kong) Ltd., said the company’s products, known for its safety and versatility for almost 50 years since it first set foot in Hong Kong, has been highly sought after and confided in for their disinfectant capabilities. He cited sales volume has recorded a 30% year-on-year growth, with a staggering 300% surge in online business performance. The company is prudently enhancing the breadth and depth of its supply, product portfolio, new market development and customer service. He believed seizing the most opportune moment is the key for any company to evolve and thrive, no matter in good times or bad times.
NASA Co-Invention Stumbled into Common Household
Introduced into Hong Kong in 1971, the half-a-century-old brand was originated from SWIPE in the US, which invented the SWIPE Miracle Cleaner for the NASA Mercury Space Programme. Using a direct selling approach at the beginning, the brand was franchised to SWIPE (Hong Kong) for local dealership later. The moment came when the brand owner tried to sell off the company, Timothy took advantage of the opportunity and acquired the company’s trademark and formula in 2012. Since then, he has continued to capitalise on the rising prosperity in China and South East Asia, expanding steadily from Hong Kong to Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand. With the major raw materials imported from the US and assembly line in Xiamen manufacturing plant, Timothy revealed the existing production lines no longer fulfill the multi-market demands, and is expecting a new plant in operation soon in Zhejiang. “The sales volume in China takes up one-third of our business, mainly from the South China region and major Eastern cities like Hangzhou and Shanghai. I believe the escalating China local demand and borderless online shopping trend will further drive the growth of SWIPE products, a new production line is therefore critical to our future roadmap.”
Word-of-mouth Publicity and Miraculous Use Uncovered
Red SWIPE is the best-selling product series among the portfolio, Timothy cited. First-class quality aside, the product’s popularity is somewhat by chance. “The Consumer Council published a test report in 2018 and selected Red SWIPE as one of the "Dish-washing Champion". Customers helped spread the words and so it becomes SWIPE number one item.”
Caring customer service is another success factor for SWIPE. “SWIPE is offering household cleaning solutions, not just products. We have a YouTube channel that show users ways to clean different objects, and have designated staff to respond to users’ questions and problems via Facebook, phone, email. We are also using WhatsApp to recruit target users like housewives to offer discounts on a regular basis.”
“Customers had told us before the Blue SWIPE is the “cockroach nemesis”, so we found out the product can dissolve the grease on the cockroach and suffocate them to death, as effective as an insect spray.” Championing quality, consumer-centric services are some of the core reasons for SWIPE to be crowned “Caring Company” in 7 consecutive years.
Rowing Upstream and Turning Crisis into Opportunity
The company used to launch new product every year to enlarge market share with diversified product range. “We postponed the new product launch this year because there was higher cost driven by material shortage and stretched logistics arrangement.”
Even then, Timothy discovered new market opportunity amidst the coronavirus crisis. “I was travelling with family to Australia as the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong took place earlier this year. We moved to New Zealand later and just happened to find the local Chinese supermarkets are selling SWIPE products using parallel imports. After looking into the market potentials, I set up domestic sales arrangement with local business partners, aiming for the local Chinese customers as a start.”
“The trip has extra rewards: as New Zealand is known for its pure water and air, I found a local merchant producing bio-degradable, organic bamboo fibre wipes that meets our requirements, so I included in our baby SWIPE product series, striving to offer more environmental-friendly products that customers need, and they are happy about it. We plan to launch baby shampoo and body wash in future to develop a complete baby product portfolio.” Walking
Side by Side for 30 Years, for Better, for Worse
SWIPE has been a GS1 Hong Kong (GS1 HK) member since 1990 and ezTRADE member since 1999, Timothy agreed the organization has been evolving with times. “GS1 global barcode has been helping our team to identify products and accelerate B2B order fulfillment, and enabling third-party logistics supplier to facilitate warehouse management and enhance efficiency with a simple scan. As I realise barcodes today can facilitate shopping experience from searching, comparing prices, sharing, to ordering and more, I believe these functions are essential to SWIPE’s online business development as they can connect us better with our consumers.”
As a member of GS1 HK SMEs Advisory Board, Timothy hopes to network and exchange with SMEs from other trades, and facilitate communications with the government to enhance SMEs competitiveness and efficiency, striving ahead with renewed perseverance.