First US, Next Worldwide

William Hsieh Of Lifestyle Shares His Ambition To Globalise His Business

The key distinction between lifestyle and other companies in the market is that Lifestyle creates demand for products

With its business philosophy to bring best quality products at the best price points to the market, Lifestyle, an Asian sourcing and global marketing furniture company has successfully established its foothold not only in the US but is selling to more than 60 countries worldwide, making up roughly 30% of total sales at the moment. Shipping more than 3,000 containers each month currently, the company has set a global revenue target set for US$500 million this year. The company is on track to achieve this goal.

According to William Hsieh, founder of Lifestyle, the key distinction between lifestyle and other companies in the market is that Lifestyle creates demand for products. Not only a bridge to link demand and supply specialising in products from Asia to the world, the company’s unmatchable pricing makes their products irresistible to buyers. The low prices in turn translates into affordable furniture for consumers and profit for Lifestyle’s buyers.

A marketing maverick who first made his company well known in the US with attention grabbing shocking prices and “mascots” on advertisements such as a Persian cat, a crocodile and a host of other animals as well as offering premiums such as ipods and ipad, Hsieh thinks outside the box. He is known to even sell below cost to secure new clients and penetrate markets.

During the past few years, in addition to focusing on the US, Lifestyle’s single largest market, the group has established an international distribution network with sales offices in countries and regions such as Australia, Europe, South Africa, South America, in Asia as well as the Middle East. This is the result of what Hsieh views as a more “localised and customised” approach to serving each market.

Hsieh believes that the different markets may have their own ways to go about their furniture businesses and with dedicated local offices, the group will be able to provide next-door solutions to its customers. Hsieh often draws valuable lessons from successful companies even in other industries. For example the company’s approach on products shares the “Coca Cola” model. This means one universal product for markets around the world. However, bearing in mind that there are distinctive tastes in each market, the company also came up with “Sprite, Minute Maid and Dasani” equivalents to cater to these markets though are limited in numbers. The company is acutely aware that if there are too many products in its inventory line-up, there may be a tendancy to lose focus and in turn jeopardizes quality, efficiency and the all-important cost. 

This sharp focus has provided Lifestyle its chief strength of offering value products, which the company is capitalising in its attempt to replicate its US success in other markets. “Quality products do not have to be expensive if one can get the supply chain done right” is one of the several fundamental beliefs the company subscribes to. A staunch believer in providing the best value for money (or lowest prices), the company works closely with its 26 partner factories across China and a dozen others in Southeast Asia to help them achieve the greatest economies of scale. Lifestyle is confident that if the prices are right, everything else will fall into place.

Another core strength of the company, according to company executives, is Lifestyle’s tip-top customer service. The reason being that the company feels that in business, no customer will ignore a supplier who provides tip-top customer service. This is supported by the company’s most enthusiastic and very aggressive staffing.

To further grow worldwide, one of Lifestyle’s latest strategies would be its investment in a new 3,500m2 Forbidden City Showroom in Shanghai. Located at JSWB Global Home Furnishing Centre in Shanghai, the new three-story trade-only showroom will feature products for the bedroom, living room and dining room. While two floors will showcase exclusively upholstery, one floor will be dedicated to casegoods. Scheduled to open on 9 September 2013, this is viewed as a new milestone for Lifestyle in its effort for global expansion. Simon Siow, Lifestyle Global CEO will head the project as President of Lifestyle Shanghai Forbidden City.

According to Siow, the Shanghai showroom will cater to international buyers and provide for future domestic Chinese market. The key distinction between the company’s showroom in High Point and Shanghai is that the former will cater to retailers in the US, while the latter will be for global customers.

Lifestyle is confident that if the prices are right, everything else will fall into place

Lifestyle is betting on Shanghai which it believes will be the future of global sourcing in Asia – when retailers worldwide are looking to source Asian furniture, they will look to China and Shanghai is the first point of entry. The Shanghai showroom will serve as a permanent showroom that opens year round and features all new products from fresh production line.

In addition to its new Shanghai showroom, a mini showroom has recently opened in Singapore to serve the wholesale market locally. Opened on 1 August 2013, the local office hopes to be able to cater to the retail market, its next target for 2014. Headed by Careen Too, President of LF Holdings (Singapore), the showrooms is also open all year round.

On offer at the Singapore showroom for its opening promotion according to Too are two “super-hot” items: a fabric sectional or 3+2 seater sofa at US$199. On top of that, an iPad mini will be given to customer who placed order.