Since video sites like Netflix took over the digital world, brick-and-mortar video retailers have been taking a hit.
After all, who’d want to spend on DVDs when you can simply watch it online, let alone keep an antique of a player sitting around the house?
But did you there’s still one company going strong in Singapore?
Here are 6 facts you might not have known about Poh Kim Video.
1. It’s Singapore’s Last Surviving Video Retailer
Turn back time to when retail was flourishing and you might have seen TS Video and VideoEzy in your neighbourhood. Today, only Poh Kim is still alive.
With 21 outlets across Singapore, they don’t plan on throwing in the towel anytime soon. In fact, their newest outlet in Northpoint, Yishun, just opened in March 2017.
And according to their website, a new outlet at Heartland Mall, Kovan is set to open soon as well.
To this end, founder Lim Chee Yong says that he “won’t give up so easily.”
“I feel for the business as [it’s] been around for 33 years,” he remarked.
2. They Had A Strong Strategy With Copyrights
Copyright acquisition became “an important factor in strategic marketing“, with their products making up 60% of their selections.
In 1997, the brand won the copyright from “Overseas Movie Private Limited”, which included English films and Karaoke.
They also became the sole distributor for “Chinese Box” (with Maggie Cheung and Gong Li) and “An Alan Smithee” (with Jackie Chan, Stallone and Whoopi Goldberg).
In 2001, they were the first retailer to acquire the copyright for Korean drama distribution in Singapore, and this successfully generated a strong fanbase in Korean dramas and films for t.hem
Poh Kim is now the sole distributor for home-video titles from Walt Disney, Warner Bros and Universal Pictures in Singapore.
3. A K-Drama Fan Helped Them Redesign Their Website
22-year-old computer science student Janel Heseri and K-drama fan happened to meet Lim at the 2016 International Film Festival.
It was an encounter that would turn serendipitous for Lim. “I’m aware [many] brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling, with online retailers eating their lunch,” she told Straits Times.
As a way to help them, she redesigned Poh Kim’s website and manages online interaction on social media. The goal? To convert interactions into customers.
At the same time, the experience also helps her hone her skills.
Poh Kim’s revamped Facebook page also uses the new video format for its cover image.
4. They Used To Rake In $15million A Year
Back in its heyday, the 38-outlet strong brand enjoyed a steady stream of customers from 10:30am to 10pm.
In the 1980s, video rental was “very hot”, and titles like The Legend Of The Condor Heroes (1983) were especially popular.
As tech advanced from laser discs to DVDs, the brand constantly renewed their selections to keep up. But 2008 brought a growing slew of streaming services, sales started slipping.
“Now, we are lucky if we can get $5 million in sales a year,” says Lim.
5. They Are Still Breaking Even
They do so by keeping tight management on costs, especially in terms of rental.
Outlets are kept to under 400 square feet and whenever rental prices hike, the company will close down that outlet and re-open it in a cheaper location in the same neighbourhood.
Staffing-wise, Poh Kim now only hires 30 people, and 10 of them have been with Lim for over 20 years.
Thomson Plaza’s branch supervisor Madelynne Hoe describes her job as “rewarding“, as many of her customers now come by with their children and grandchildren.
“I trust that my boss can keep [it] going,” she states confidently.
6. The Money Is Now On 4K And Drama
In March 2017, Poh Kim started selling latest films in 4K, whose ultra high-def quality is powerful enough to even catch the fine wrinkles and freckles on faces.
They have sold over 200 of the latest films such as Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
Meanwhile, their Korean and Hong Kong dramas are also selling well, the 2 best performing ones being Love In The Moonlight (700 since February), and Doctor Crush (600 since April).
“I can watch them online but [they aren’t] dubbed into Mandarin [so] I’ll always buy a physical copy [and share it with my relatives,” shared one loyal customer.
A 4K Future
Lim plans to open a showroom at their main office in Ubi Crescent by end-2017.
This will serve both walk-in and online customers as a free order collection site.
“Our mall outlets are smaller and cannot display all the DVDs. We want to provide more comprehensive customer service by having everything at one place,” Lim told The Middle Ground.
This doesn’t mean that they will be closing outlets though, as they “are still important leisure spots [and] important contact points with customers.”
While Poh Kim might indeed become obsolete in the future, but for now their future is still in high-definition.
Featured Image Credit: Insing