Did I remember the trip last year?

Oh, yes I do.

I have to say email marketing done right still works, even though we are bombarded with numerous junk on a secondly base.

That’s the subject line of an email from Airbnb, one of my favrouites sites. It was perfectly timed at the same month we went on a road trip as a family last year around the west coast.

As a digital native and also a practitioner myself, I successfully gifted a digital-driven trip to my parents, who are only barely stay digital on Wechat.

The trip started as an idea of “act while you can”. Back in 2008, I planned everything down to daily schedule with my grandma to the States. However, just the day before I asked her to go to our family doctor to get some safety med just in case. Her blood pressure turned sky high and the doctor strongly advised against going. That was it. My grandma never got to use her American visa. With that in mind, while my mom and dad are still mobile and healthy. We decided to go on a family trip.

How digital was it –

  • My parents’ ticket to SFO was redeemed by my Asiamile mileage online. It blew off my hard-earn 144,000 miles over the past couple of years. (To be honest, I did try to NYC, California and Dallas in less than 12 months and Bali and Amsterdam some time slightly earlier).
  • My ticket to SFO was bought directly from the airline website and the air tickets to Van Couvar and train ticket back to Seattle and air ticket back to SFO were all done directly on the relating sites.
  • I tried searching some online tool to plan for our itinery. Only the Roadtrip planner was good for a while. So I went back to the old-fashion Excel file to fill in the dates, temperature (I used Google to check the weather down to the days), where we will be, whom to meet and rough budget. I also shared that with my two aunts who we would staying with.
  • For the cities, we didn’t have free accomodation, we turned to Airbnb. We booked a stunning flat in downtown Van Couvar and Seattle.
  • We also booked the rental car in advance.
  • When we were on our rental car, we used Google Map to navigate  to tour along California 1 and Yelp to look for resturants to dine in.
  • While we were not using the rental car, we ubered or lyfted. It worked perfectly fine.
  • We used Wechat, Whatsapps and Facebook messager to communicate with our friends and families.

It was a small step for me, but a huge leap for my parents. Look forward to our next trip Hawaii this Christmas.

365天的思念

Found this on my computer, an unfinished piece. It was written on Sep 6, 2015, a year after my grandma peaceful departure.

即使在今天365天之後, 所有事情都像在剛剛發生一樣, 記憶猶新.

在那天之前, 你突然發高燒, 媽還打給我中醫, 老中醫建議用酒精幫你降溫, 明早再看情況. 我早上醒來, 在上班前還看看碰一下你的額頭, 你還在發燒, 但不太熱, 我就去上班了, 心想父母會好好照料你. 你已經好幾天沒有反應了. 我很怕, 讓你帶上助聽器, 我跟你說話, 因為那感覺太可怕了, 你沒有反應, 我像對空氣說話. 沒想到, 那已經是差不多最後一次我跟活著你的說話了.

我在一個event, 剛好放break, 我還約了舊同事中飯. 我突然收到媽的電話, 其實平時, 我很少馬上就接電話, 這次我馬上就聽了, 媽說你進醫院了. 過去幾個月, 你進出醫院很多次, 我還不以為然, 問媽我為什麼要馬上來. 她只是說我要馬上來. 我就馬上截的士來. 路上, 我才開始會怕, 我開始意識到事態严重, 這可能是我最後見到活著的你了. 我在的士上, 激動情緒開始來了. 我不能忍住淚水, 不停地流淚. 來到醫院, 你還在急證室搶救中. 慌了, 還平日冷靜的老父也慌了. 我們在乾等, 等著不知是好是壤的消息

醫生終於出來了. 他說你被搶救過來, 但已經返魂乏術. 我們只剩幾小時. 這是我人生中最長也是最短的幾時小時. 你已經不能眨眼了. 你被推到病房之時, 只有你的眼活動和機器的指標能令我們相信你還活著. 你已經不能說話, 不能動彈. 我們在你身邊守著, 等著…每次見到你心跳減慢時, 我們大喊. 叫你回來. 護士已經叫我們致電遠方親人, 一個一個親人對著空氣說話, 我知你好想親口道別., 但你已經沒有這能力. 直到醫護人員進來病院告話我們你已走了.   我們悲哭, 大喊…

感激你 (上年就寫到這里)

我終於明白到我為何只能寫到這裡, 因為看到這裡, 我已經熱淚滿框了. 在這個雨過天晴的干午突然到這篇未完的文貼, 再鼓起勇氣寫下去.

快兩年過去了, 你總是在我最需要你的時候, 在夢中來探我. 在萬中, 你還在生, 還是無限的慈愛, 我還是感無限的温暖, 心裡非常的實在. 每當一醒來, 意識到你己遠在另一個世界了, 失落不以, 還是難以接受, 用盡力睡回去, 回到你的慈愛中. 可以越用力, 越難回到夢中, 只有淚水伴我漫漫長夜.

時間是不會沖淡一切的. 你對我的愛, 你在的心中的重要, 永不會沖淡. 現在已哭成淚人的我, 也寫不下去了. 阿婆, 我好掛住你. 我永遠愛你.

願所有朋友都懂得珍愛身邊的人.

 

友誼隨想

其實這個主題已我心裡醞釀了一段日弓, 今日終於開始提筆(打字).

去年某日, 我獨自行山時, 老遠看到兩個小閨密在山澗中逆流而上, 有感而生. 兩小無猜的純真友誼是多麼難能可貴, 令我想起我祖母與她身美國的摯友的深厚情誼 – 一段經歷歲月洗滌, 分隔千里, 終能維繫 – till death do us part的友誼.

在一個沒有社交媒體, 沒有互聯網的年代, 友情可以維持70多年, 一年幾通電話, 兩三封書信來往(聖誕節通常會附上一張20元美金), 對方珍惜這份情誼. 十多年前, 我還在大學時, 交換生計劃完結後, 我在美國留了一段日子. 那時, 我只是覺得奇怪, 為什麼一些我素未謀面的親戚, 對我如此熱情. 我祖母的朋友堅持我到她家住一星期. 年時已高的她不單帶我在她家附近飲茶食飯, 還陪我到環球片場玩, 一個70多歲的老人家還帶我一個20來歲的”小朋友” 去玩, 原因只是這位”小朋友” 正是她挚友的孫女.

其中一位我也從未見過的表姐告訴我, 為什麼她們會為我這個陌生的親戚張羅 – 她們已離鄉背井多年, 她們對我好原因是她們對我家人關愛的投射. 那一刻年輕的我沒有明白, 但現在我明白了.

2009年, 我決心想祖母到美國玩, 但因為她的血壓突然上升, 我們沒有去成, 所有親屬都很失望, 但也明白老人家旅行需要很大勇氣. 大前年, 祖母沒有收到她美國朋友的聖誕卡, 她已預感到不幸的事發生了. 祖母還說可朋友的先生過世了, 我們還是不要打擾她. 沒想到, 這一次的不想打擾成了永訣.

前年初, 祖母的身體每下愈況, 氣弱遊絲她靜悄悄的走了, 我們都在她身邊. 當我們開始靜下來, 通知親朋好友時, 我也打電話到美國知祖母的好友. 想不到電話接通了, 她第一反應是” 佩容嗎?” (我祖母的名字), 她原以為是我祖母致電問候她, 可惜我帶來的郤是一個壞消息. 在她平靜的反應中, 我聽到幾千裡以外的悲痛. 我放下電話, 心仍在痛.

去年, 我心感把握時間, 要活當下, 決定帶父母到美國看看世界. 我看到的是那些親戚重遇交的感動, 百感交雜. 到了LA, 我們全家都同意去探望祖母的摯友. 我致電她時, 她的看護接電話, 她不是太清醒, 我們跟看護解釋我的們的來意, 安排在第二天我們上門探訪. 第二天, 我們到她的時候, 90歲的老人家思路還很清晰, 她還如家珍地講她與祖母年時的故事, 她們小學時已認識, 一直到中學, 還分享午餐, 由她們幾歲開始, 這段友情維繫了超過80年. 老人家很安慰有朋自遠方來, 還可以用鄉下話(沙溪話)跟她交談, 她還記我大學時身體比現在豐滿多了.  在臨別時, 她不停地用沙溪話說, “看到阿敏(我), 我直快活!” 那一刻, 我只能强忍淚水, 叫她好好保重. 我也真的不知道這次是否我們的最後一面. 人生無常, 活好每一天才重要.

聖誕的之前, 我在整理舊相片時, 找到了祖母與摯友朋在80年代的合照, 我重晒了一套, 寄到美國. 希望這些照片能勾起那些美好的回憶.

在這個世代朋友多, 深交少. 友情也會隨人生的不同階段而改變. 交上好友, 且行, 且珍惜.

 

遺憾美 – What if…

前言

太久沒有寫作了, 來到快到3月底才開始2016年的第一篇, 有感提筆生疏. 現在答應自己在庸庸碌碌的生活中, 停步下來, 把每一刻的小感動寫下來, 保觧僅存講故事的能力. 雖說獻醜(我可真的忘了醜寫怎樣寫, 要在Yahoo Dictionary 查 “Ugly” #somin). 不如蔵拙, 但寫作對我來記是一個理清思路, 思考人生的方法, 就讓我來獻一下醜. 

記得去年在社交媒體上,  有一套電影吸引了我的注意 – “哪一天我們會飛”. 本想到戯院看, 朋友們的-評價好壞參半, 但不知什麼原因, 也淡忘了.

上星期在飛機, 偶然看到了這套戯在Movie List上, 就選了來看看. 原來對該片沒抱很大期望, 但故事遠遠超我意料. 故事的巧妙構思, 使我看完電影還不停回咮著. 故事訴說一對人到中年的夫婦經過歲月的洗禮, 為活而活, 外表風光但忘郤了對生活的熱情, 如行屍走肉地活著. 偶然的機遇下, 回憶學生時代的青澀初戀和重拾年輕時追夢的熱血, 完一個故友的心願. 初戀的情節似曾相識, 令我不其然聯想到一套總是令我感動不以的電影 – 情書. 兩片的遺憾美也是始於年輕是擦身而過的暗戀, 到了長大後才發現的的由衷感動, 的確有異曲同工之巧. 兩個故事的男主角也是對之後的女友看似一見鍾意, 但其實只是女友和初戀對像很相似而已. 而在電影倒敍時也已去世, 到女主角發現和時已經追也不回, 只有淡淡的遺憾美 – “情書”中女主角在書簽後的插畫, “哪一天我們會飛” 中女主角發現在獎杯下的登機證. What if 情書的女主角一早就看到書簽? What if 在”哪一天我們會飛”的女主角看到了紙飛機的留言? 在”哪一天我們會飛”中, 少時的三人行, 女主角周旋於兩個心儀自的的男生中間, 微妙的友誼和青葱少年情,  第三者說男角A令她想起以前的男友, 而男角A是因為第三者令他想起他女主角年輕的時代,  其實第三者以前的男朋友正是男角B, 最巧妙的地方是第三者的前男友正是男角B, 因為男角B鍾情的也是女主角, 可謂超越時空的四角戀.

除了感情線外, 電影的重拾追夢的熱忱值得我們反思. 男女主角其實也是夢想成真, 做了兒時想做的工作, Living their dream. 但他們倆也忘郤了對夢想的初衷, working to live, not living to work. 夢想成真又如何? 劇中男女主角最後也因為亡友對夢想的執著激勵, 重燃對生活的熱情. 可算是Happy ending.

記得兒時的夢想嗎? 是否已經活在夢想生活中, 而郤身在福中? 在成長是又有多少段令你不斷回想的What If…的遺憾? 無疾而終的初戀總是美麗的, 因為它是一個夢, 沒有生活的洗滌, 還留有許多你腦海裡的想像空間. What if…

 

 

 

Project H&H

I’m burnt out, I’m stressed out and my body is telling me I’m not healthy or happy. There’s just so much family, friends, colleagues, doctors can do; but at the end of the day, it’s your own responsibility to make yourself healthy and happy. In the spirit of #happy100 which I had done a year back. Keep yourself healthy and happy is a long time battle. To me, a bit of struggle at the moment. Sometimes, you need to actively remind yourself to be healthy and be happy.

I’m stressed and tried on weekdays and drawn my sorrows by partying. I ended up being drunk and hungover and feel horrible on weekend and insomnia on Sundays. It’s a total downward spiral.

Reality check on my physical and emotional healthiness:

Physically:

  • Constantly fatigue
  • Constant migraine, especially in the afternoon. It gets worse when I’m angry or upset (Chinese doctor said it’s related to my liver. The more frustrated I get, the worse the pain gets)
  • Insomnia (It was only Sunday night before and occasionally on week days. I had been on sleeping pills for 2 weeks to get a slightly more decent night of sleep)
  • Feeling numb on my left face sometimes
  • My hands shakes sometimes specially when hungover
  • Regular stomachache, sometimes it gets really bad
  • Digestive problem (I don’t put on weight simply because my body is not really absorbing)
  • Loss of hair (like a lot)
  • Dry Hair (no matter how expensive treatment I put on)
  • Stiff shoulders
  • Constant neck tiredness and pain
  • Non regular heart rate sometimes

Emotional:

  • Burnt out
  • Easily upset
  • Easily frustrated
  • Hard to control my anger
  • Miner depression
  • Forgetful
  • Stressed
  • Loss of memories
  • Constant nightmare (waking up in the middle of the night completely scared)

The list goes on and on…

I’ll start this project and document it all on my blog. Here’s what I’m going to:

  • Do at least 1 thing to make myself happy
  • Do at least `1 thing to make myself healthy
  • Try not to do anything that harms my physical or emotional health
  • Always end the day with a positive thought
  • Keep a notebook next to my bed to write down any idea I would have or things I need to do the next day
  • Control my food intake (avoid food that causes me trouble, eg. spicy food)
  • Control my alcohol intake (no more than 2 a day)

I’ll put the first 90 days at the first milestone and reflect if . Good luck to me!

Things I learnt through selling my old clothes online (O2O)

It looks harder than you think. Much hard.

The story started when I had an over flowing wardrobe and my friend told me there’s a Facebook group that allows people to sell old clothes in our neighbourhood. So I signed up for that and finally took the time to take the photos of my clothes and made it look slightly better. To be exact, it wasn’t exactly online transaction, it’s more omnichannel online to offline (O2O). 

I didn’t plan well at all. Period!

Let’s break it down by 4Ps – Marketing 101.

Product – the things people sold were of all sorts, from designer bags, clothing, assesories to cosmetics. One thing I did notice is that most people only sold less than 10 items at a time. Or they would have an open house, taking photos of their clothing rack. -> I thought mine would look so much better if I take individual photos especially with a bit of styling too. (Now I know, it’s hard to be a Taobao shop owner)

Price – Some were selling claim-to-be authentic Prada for HK$2,000 (Not bad of a bargain if it’s real). But for most of the clothing items, it’s about $10-$300. Mostly, below $100 I would say. -> So I had a vague idea of how i should price my clothes. $10-$250 for casual clothing to designer night gowns. (Not too bad as a deal).

People – Here, I meant the members of the group. This group consists of both the house-wives (usually expat or foreign Chinese), working ladies like myself and domestic helpers. -> Not be a racists but my target audience should be small-frame Asians who look for a bargain.

Promotion – I saw bundled offers (all for $100 deal) but those products looked bad. -> So GWP (Gift with Purchase) seems a good idea given I have many old greeting cards and many untouched scarfs.

Before I actually started – the whole thing seems such a well-planned idea. I will have my wardrobe space and some cash. Well, things weren’t as easy as I thought:

Here’s what I learn:

1. Products

My dresses are nice but taking individual photos and styling them took time! It took up my whole morning and I was phsycially and mentally exhausted after taking 32 photos (I didn’t manage to take all). So feeling accomplised, I uploaded the dressesd directly and mentioned an open-house, at the afternoon the coming Sunday. (Which was also ignorant of me to consider my target audience). I also put up a few more with the pricing on and I also put another two boxes up with unified pricing ($20 and $10)

Also, with that size of assortment, I was not able to handle the customer service effectively.

2. Pricing –

The Native me thought I could handle all the enquiries later and price precisely better. The sad truth is, I put $10-250. and

a. I ended up with overwhelming responses asking me how much is a certain dress

b. I price the dresses differently and it’s extremely difficult for me to remember how I priced them and I was not as organised so I only put down the prices beneath each photos much later. Due to the arbituary pricing, I ended up spending another hour putting the stickers on the clothes individually and re-arranging my dresses according to its price.

c. Reservation is not a thing. I just couldn’t keep track of all the requests. So I ended up cancelling the reservation service I thought I could offer.

3. People

Well, many people said they could come or asked for a different time (unfortunately, I picked the wrong weekend. I was very busy that weekend too).

Most of the members who were interested in the dresses were domestic helpers. I did these wrong:

– Timing: I didn’t consider rescheduling my time-slot. Sunday is their day-off. Most of them would have made plans to go in town to meet their friends or go to church. Setting it in the afternoon was very unconvinent of them.

– Pricing: back to pricing again. Many of them are of lower income. They won’t be willing to buy second-hand clothes over $50. $20-$50 should be the sweet spot.

Out of the 30 something requests, only 2 people actually turned up. Good that I had 100% sell-through. I also managed to cross-sell a couple items. 

4. Promotion – 

The free greeting  cards I put on my post weren’t exactly a traffic driver. No one actually liked it. But I gave it to my second customer and she gladly accepted. These cards are nice and I hope they will make someone’s day.

OK, I wasted quite a bit of time setting up the open-house and waiting for people to come. I prisoned myself on a beautiful sunshiney day while I could totally be out at the beach roasting myself.  Consider what I made and compare to my normal hourly wage, it was not a good investment of my time.

What I will do differently next time?

1. Narrow the assortment down. 5 items tops so that once it’s sold. It’s gone. No open-house needed.

2. Lower my prices and offer unified pricing. $50 each, $100 each, $150 each for each batch. Cross selling is a good idea but it also needs manpower to back it up.

3. Open-house is not a good idea unless you are moving out of the place. It’s too hard to manage and too much preparation.

4. Timing! Posts on this group got sunk down pretty quickly. Your stock should be cleared before your post is down to the second page.

5. Model shots helps conversion. I show my Instagram photos with my #adressaday project and my customers were impressed and they were more willing to buy know how great it’ll look.

Well, it’s a valueable lesson. I’d never know if I never tried. It does take a lot to be a good enterprenuer.

One very wise man once said, the secret recipe for retail success is simple: 

Connect   Engage  Convert

I connected my potential customers on the Facebook group, I engaged with them through enquiry and the interaction while at the point of sale, last but not least, I had 100% sell-through – Convert!!!

Now, it’s time for a bath and unwind.

Meet Zalora’s Popup Store – an O2O Story in Hong Kong

O2O has been such a buzz word that you can apply to the same high school sex metaphor again. 

O2O is like high school sex. Everyone talks about it; few actually did it; for who who did it, they have no idea what they are doing. 

Just fill in the first subject to something new and exciting. You get the idea. 

O2O becomes such a buzz word to a level that even in a local Personal Loan TVC, this very word was used in the ad copy. (Something like we offer you the O2O option. You can apply the loan online and go pick up the money at the branch). The first time I heard that. The first thing popped to my kind was “marketers are you target audience for the ad? So marketers tend to over spend on their credit card and need help?” Or the copywriter was too immersed into the buzz word and thought everyone understand what O2O stands for. (Sorry, completely irrelevant. I’m still yet to find out the answer yet)

O2O (online to offline and offline to online) is to use marketing means to bring online traffic to offline stores and vice versa. (At least, it’s my definition). 

Back to Zalora, Zalora is one of the major vertical fashion online retailers in South East Asia. The popup store is more of a showroom for customers to try on and experience the product/sample firsthand and but online through their app or their website. The products will ship to you. 

The store is located at Windsor House, Causeway Bay. It took us something to find it as we were under the impression that it was more like a roadshow but it was indeed a store.

First glance – 

 
The store is decorated with a post- Morden minimalist industrial style, with open display of products that encourages interaction – picking up, touching it or trying it on.

Wifi is there – thank god. That the most basic need in the new age Marslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

  
What’s so special about it?

There are Samsung tablets (you can shop directly from the app installed on the stanley) and a mac book attached to a bar code scanner (you can be your own shop assistant , scanning the bar code on the price tag yourself) for you ease to shop.  – you get 20% off if you download the app on your android and key in the promo code(not sure if it works on iOS too)

 
 
What’s my favourite part? The QR code on the price tag. Open up the Zalora app (it took about 1-2 minutes to actually load it – Not Cool) and scan the QR code. The item would be automatically added to your cart.

So I tried an item on for the sizing  – yes I’m a size 8 

Scan the QR code 

  
It’s in my shopping cart (or bag)

 
I’m yet to check out though. 

My colleague went back to the store after work. Apparently, it was one of the busiest stores in the mall. 4 of the 5 items were already sold out.  If you have HSBC credit card, you get 28% on selected items. I hope they replenish soon or they are missing out a huge opportunity. (Actually, this is the perfect opportunity for them to acquire customers database  –  leave your contact info, you’ll get a notification with an offer once we restock. Easy as pie).

My take – it’s a good way to get our spoiled Hong Kong shopper to have a taste of online shopping, encourage first time trial, and above all brand awareness building. Sales are a bonus I would say

As a shopper, I’m an advanced online shopper as in I shop everything I wear online; I don’t need further preaching on online shopping. It still felt good to try out the sizing saving me the hassle of returning or exchanging. 

Time to shop😉   

[Flash of Genius] Tmall Apple Product Launch

Chinese creativity never fails to amaze me.

Today, there’s a top banners on the biggest eCommerce platform in China – Tmall.

On the top purple banner, the Chinese reads “Secret Apple Product launch 2015”.

Tmall Home Page Top Banner on May 6, 2015

Tmall Home Page Top Banner on May 6, 2015

When you click into the banner, you’ll get the idea – A landing page with a typical Apple/Mac look and feel only with Real Apples in the key visual. (See the page here)

Landing Page for Queens Apple - sells actual apple - the fruit.

Landing Page for Queens Apple – sells actual apple – the fruit.

Looks Familiar?

Apple Feature

Apple Feature

Apple Feature

To top it up, they actually mock Apple to the max by creating a product videos completely Apple Style. I seriously love the video and the whole creative idea. (What exactly does a VP of Visibility Reduction do?)

Queens Apple Product Video

Queens Apple Product Video

http://cloud.video.taobao.com/play/u/788020900/e/1/t/1/p/1/25046539.swf

Yes, they are selling real apples from New Zealand.

This is by far, the best apple-mocking campaign I’ve seen (Apart from the whole Xiaomi craze).  Have a laugh and enjoy!

Follow-up:

It didn’t stop there:

Queens Apple and Tmall Internatinal worked with two top celebrities who are currently starring in the celebrities dating reality show “Let’s fall in love” (我们相爱吧)

With their Quotes, which had been hot topic on Weibo since the show aired.

Ren Zhong's Apple Packing with his famous quote

Ren Zhong’s Apple Packing with his famous quote

Shangwenjie  Customized Packaging

Shangwenjie Customized Packaging

Of course, KOLs (Nice adaptation of Coke’s “Share a Coke” – Isn’t the packaging familiar too?

KOL Posts

KOL Posts

They also built up the hashtag/ Topic on Weibo #AppleforReal# (真的是苹果)- It’s less than 48 hours since its debut on Tmall, the topic itself has over 20 million views and 17K Tweets and definitely counting.

What’s more? They have sold out over 30K packages of Apples in less than 2 days before they apples are picked. Isn’t it a marketing miracle?

Sold Out Banjner

Sold Out Banner

Well done, Tmall International! I wonder when international news will pick up the story.