,Singapore
Photo from XM Studios.

What is the most vital factor in developing quality products?

XM Studios reiterates how listening to customers helped in creating quality collectibles.

Customer engagement and feedback remain an important part of XM Studios operations to come up with quality products, which is the top priority of the collectibles maker, CEO Ben Ang said.

XM Studios garner comments from collectors through its official Facebook page and a Facebook group where collectors gather, he said.

“We involve and engage with our collectors' community from the design process by gathering their comments and feedback,” he told Retail Asia. “Delivering quality products is our top priority.”

“We actively respond to comments and feedback on these platforms, as well as direct messages. We listen and take notice of what they like, what their suggestions are, ways to improve the design, what they wish to see, and translate this information into our designs,” he added.

In making high-quality collectibles, XM Studios makes sure that each piece has gone through three rounds of quality checks, Ang said.

“Each collectible is uniquely numbered with a 16-digit code that collectors can register online for authenticity and ownership,” he added.

But digital engagement did not only help the company to garner comments, as online has also become a platform for them to grow their business, especially during the pandemic.

Before, XM Studios participated in comic cons worldwide along with their distributors; but since they are not able to participate in such events anymore due to the pandemic, the company geared towards digital marketing to boost their digital presence.

“Our international fanbase were actively conversing online as we saw increased community engagement and online shopping frequency. We took the opportunity to ramp up our digital marketing efforts to create more awareness and build conversations with our online audience,” Ang said.

“Pandemic has not derailed growth for us, as collectors spend more time at home admiring their collections and, since traveling for vacations are also put on hold, they do have extra savings,” he said, adding that XM Studios saw its revenue doubled in 2020.

XM Studios revenues reached S$16.9m in 2020 from S$7.9 in the previous year, with a net profit of over S$4.2m in 2020, according to a press release.

How it started

XM Studios was incorporated in 2012, but Ang’s experience in the collectibles industry traces back to 1997 where he and his brother Seng, XM Studios creative director, took over a hobby store.

Ang said they also took on various works which range from teaching airbrushing workshops to making large-scale models. They were also landscape artists for over 15 years.

When it became physically tiring to work on large scale models as they start to age, they looked for other ways to continue their art “in a financially sustainable way.”

“With the encouragement received from our customers, we decided to make our own licensed products. XM was incorporated in 2012 and after a string of setbacks and rejections, we finally secured our first license with Disney in 2013,” Ang said.

“We had been in the industry long enough to know that there is a demand in the market for real, quality products so we set off to produce top-quality luxury licensed figurines,” he added.

XM Studios has produced more than 200 handcrafted products and holds 11 licenses which include Marvel, DC Comics, Disney (Marvel, Star Wars, Alien/Predator), Hasbro (Transformers, Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons), Godzilla, Ultraman, and Sanrio.

How it is going

XM Studios in September listed notes on digital securities investment platform ADDX to raise S$4.5m capital. This came after Temasek’s Heliconia’s S$1m investment with the firm. The notes have a maturity date of 18 months with an interest rate of 6% per annum, according to the press release.

Ang said this will help on their plan on acquiring more licenses banking on their existing business in the US, Europe, and Asia. They also want to enter new markets such as the Middle East and India.

“We are diversifying into mass premium collectibles and lifestyle products to reach a wider audience. We are also delving into blockchain to add an additional layer of authentication to our products,” he said.

XM Studios is also opening the XM Flagship Store by the end of the year. The 19,000 square feet space at the Kitchener Complex will house the company’s retail, gallery, café, and office.

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