Zalora leverages technology for Trender

A data-driven approach also allows brands to effectively pursue new categories for adjacent growth

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic courtesy of Zalora

STAYING on top of technological advancement has become the most vital element for the retail and fashion brands to stay on the pulse of South-East Asian consumers’ evolving tastes and preferences.

Zalora Marketplace and Platform Services director Simone Cortini said Under Armour, for example, has been tapping on Zalora’s data solution service, Trender, to mine insights from its 2.6 million active consumers across South-East Asia.

He said the platform gives the global sporting wear brand immediate access to timely behavioural insights that in turn inform their design decisions and even demand projections in a much more precise way.

“This helps to accelerate their e-commerce growth in the region by bridging the gap between their global outlook and local nuances. Secondly, it is important for brands to create an online shopping experience that is entertaining, engaging and highly social.

“As people spend more time staying at home, they increasingly look to shopping as a means of connecting with the wider community based on shared passion points. One way to bring this to life is through digital content marketing and influencer engagement,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview.

This is why Zalora continues to work with brands to create innovative touchpoints like its live-streaming platform Z-Live, where shoppers get to interact with fashion and style enthusiasts. Cortini said the company is also looking into augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to offer immersive shopping experiences.

“By harnessing and leveraging data to derive genuine insights about consumers’ needs, brands can better anticipate shopping behaviour and curate more effective engagement strategies, including personalised content and locally curated digital marketing efforts.

“A data-driven approach also allows brands to effectively pursue new categories for adjacent growth,” he added.

According to Zalora’s internal data, the number of unique customers shopping for luxury goods was 172% higher in July 2020, compared to March 2020 — a strong signal that quality now reigns over quantity for consumers — and that consumer trust in e-commerce has deepened considerably.

“Based on the data, we launched our new and dedicated Luxury segment in September 2020, and the category has seen triple-digit growth on Zalora.

“We also saw a great response to our inaugural Luxury Festival recently, where we offered to our consumers over 6,000 items from brands like Coach, Ralph Lauren and Steve Madden.

“Another big opportunity that the data have shown us is consumers’ embrace of sustainable products. 90% of consumers we surveyed presented some level of interest in sustainable products, and more than half are now willing to pay a premium for such items,” he added.

Zalora is Asia’s Online Fashion and Lifestyle Destination. Founded in 2012, the company has a presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Zalora is part of the Global Fashion Group, the world’s leader in online fashion for emerging markets. It offers an extensive collection of top international and local brands and products across apparel, shoes, accessories and beauty categories for men and women.

Given the pandemic situation, Cortini said most brick-and-mortar brands and retailers started looking to diversify their risk profile by moving more sales online.

He said many global brands are also naturally keen to tap on the demand boom in the region, but building data and fulfilment capabilities from the ground up is a capital-intensive endeavour, not to mention time-consuming.

“To help these brands and retailers seize the momentum quickly, Zalora expanded its offering towards becoming also an e-commerce enabler by offering our platform services to them.

“Our data-solutions service, Trender, helps brands better understand the region’s consumers by providing valuable data on geo segmentation, buying behaviour, design intelligence, assortment and pricing insights.

“Our Operations solutions, meanwhile, leverage the infrastructure and technologies Zalora has built over the years to streamline and consolidate stock and order management across all online channels for fashion and lifestyle brands,” he said.

This has been especially helpful for fast-growing brands like Milliot & Co, Puma, Under Armour, Kath Kidston and Mango turbocharging their expansion beyond Malaysia to Indonesia and the Philippines.

He said the exponential e-commerce growth observed through the pandemic is here to stay because the 40 million new Internet users who joined South-East Asia’s digital economy in 2020 are likely to remain plugged in.

He foresees one key barrier to market penetration in South-East Asia is the sheer diversity of the region, so it can be challenging for brands to keep up with the demand boom and scale their e-commerce efforts quickly and effectively.

“As a first-mover in South-East Asia’s e-commerce landscape and a leader in fashion and lifestyle, we have been focused on addressing that challenge across geographies and markets.

“This is why we are offering Trender and Operations by Zalora to leverage the capabilities we have built over the years and help other fashion brands and retailers overcome the challenge of scaling up their growth in South-East Asia,” Cortini said further.

With its Regional e-Fulfillment Hub in Malaysia serving as a nerve centre for markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, Zalora has been able to navigate the disparate geographies efficiently.

“With our Malaysia hub, we have built the capacity to perform 99% same-day processing of customer orders and 99% same-day processing of returns received.

“Zalora Malaysia is also the first and only fashion e-commerce retailer in the country to obtain the authorised economic operator status that gives our Regional e-Fulfilment Hub a form of the express lane at customs, making 24/7 cross border movements seamless,” he added.