“If the smartphone was invented to change the way people communicate, then e-commerce was invented to change people’s shopping behavior,” shared Chau Vo, Head of Production at Leflair. As an e-commerce site with flash sales, Leflair’s vision is to supply high-end brands to consumers at a fair price.
We learned what it means to be Head of Production through Chau, in addition to the differences between working for an agency versus in-house, and the role of production in customers’ shopping experience.
How did you find out about this job?
I graduated with a degree in biotechnology with a focus in microorganisms. Unfortunately, my physical health wasn’t suitable to work in a factory, so I decided to work for a small supply chain company that filled orders from the US.
I received an offer to join a project developing an e-commerce website in the US between 2012 and 2013. As an online shopper, I gladly accepted the offer. After joining the team, I worked eight hours a day researching popular e-commerce websites such as Amazon. I studied their methods of creating ad banners as well as their marketing strategies.
Since I was far from our intended market, I wasn’t able to fully understand American consumer behavior and the e-commerce market. Although the project was never launched, I learned a lot. In 2014, I started working at [the largest e-commerce site at the time], Zalora. I took on the role of Content Leader, and worked as Head of Production until 2017.
As the Content Leader for the Production department, I learned the basics to the e-commerce model. I also gained valuable experience from the projects of which I was a part.
In 2018, I was fortunate to receive an offer from Leflair for the role of Head of Production. I’ve worked for this company for more than a year now.
Can you describe what being the Head of Production at Leflair entails?
My main job is to establish a goal and lead the production team to create a plan on how to achieve it. After listening to my team’s proposal, I present a feasible idea to my boss. In my presentation, I also discuss the proposal’s KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and potential profit.
As the Head of Production at Leflair, I’m responsible for guiding my team. Most importantly, I create a vision, set goals and develop plans with my team.
The Production department comprises of smaller teams: Studio, Retouch, Graphic Design and Content; it’s like a production house. Serving as a representative for my team, I am responsible for answering my supervisor’s inquiries about KPIs, work efficiency, the quality of visuals, new projects, etc.
However, I also encourage the team to be creative and maintain a steadfast work ethic. The team must be able to meet deadlines and produce quality work.
Can you share more about the working process in the Production department?
Leflair is an e-commerce platform that offers short-term promotions, therefore requiring everyone to work in a fast-paced environment.
In terms of photoshoots, we usually have two hours of preparation time. For shoots that require models, there is only one day to contact the modeling agency, makeup team, etc. With this work pace, our studio can have photoshoots for 4000 products on average each month.
In addition, with the products from the retouch team – from edited studio pictures to images provided by the suppliers of the imported products – the entire department presents around 10,000 products a month.
I also work with the buyers team, marketing team, and the customer service team. They work directly with the customers and receive their feedback, giving us the ability to create a better vision and image for the products.
How do visuals influence consumer’s purchasing decisions when shopping online?
The traditional retail model allows customers to physically interact with the products and also seek consultations from the sales associates. For the online retail model, visuals are the most powerful method of presentation.
Visuals communicate the company’s message and its personality. If the customer likes the brand image and believe that it fits their demand, they will visit the website. Customers will stay longer on the website if there is sufficient information and appealing visuals. Over time, customers will build loyalty with the company and eventually start making purchasing decisions on the platform.
With the current competitive landscape of e-commerce, the two basic foundations, “sufficiency and accuracy,” are still not enough. We need to create our own signature style. This means creating quality images that tell a story to the customers. At Leflair, our targeted customers are people who live simple, sophisticated lifestyles and exude confidence. The Production team strives to portray this lifestyle.
As the Head of Production, how do you balance meeting KPI’s and being creative for your team?
Goals and deadlines are two factors that need to be prioritized when presented to the supervisor. This also applies to the creative department. I always ask my team to be creative, but at the same time they need to make logical decisions and follow the guidelines. However, I don’t impose any standards on my team because I don’t want to constrain them. Instead, I try to create an environment for my team to sustain their creativity.
What are your strengths and what are the weaknesses that you need to improve?
I’m not any better than anyone else on my team. On the team there’s the art director, photographer, stylist, retoucher, and content writer; all of whom are good at their jobs. All I need to do is just observe and lead my team to achieve their goal.
Initially, interacting with people was my weakness as an introvert. However, when I took on this job, communication and presentation skills became a necessity. Therefore, over time I had to learn how to overcome this weakness. Even though the feeling of anxiousness hasn’t gone away, I still choose to push forward. To me, as long as I take the first step, everything will fall in place.
What are some pros and cons of working for an e-commerce site?
I really like to work in a start-up environment because it brings you new experiences everyday. However, this job cycle also creates pressure.
The feeling after overcoming hardships and reaching the peak is always satisfying. At Leflair, there will always be demanding challenges that are immensely gratifying.
What is your secret to maintaining high spirits when working under such a high-pressure environment?
I try to stay positive by simplifying my thoughts. I don’t think anybody has the ability to foster inspiration alone; it’s a collaborative effort.
I try to inspire my team as much as possible. I believe all the positive support that I direct to my team will be reciprocated.
As a senior in the e-commerce industry, what do you predict about the growth of this industry?
Currently, the e-commerce industry in Vietnam is slowly expanding to the importing sector. In the future, this trend will make impressive progress. Customer’s demand for foreign goods at reasonable prices and high quality [will therefore rise].
Leflair is catching up with this demand by focusing on the importing sector. We’re working directly with foreign brands and importing directly from Leflair’s international warehouse located in Singapore.