Beauty & Shopping, International Fashion, Singapore Fashion

[Material World x Asia Fashion Summit] The Secrets To E-Commerce Success

Although Zalora only launched in late 2011, it is arguably one of the biggest players in the online retail market right now. We find out from Zalora’s Managing Director Harry Markl how they did it. 

You see their ads everywhere on social media and you’ve probably even received a marketing e-mailer from them, but the secret to Zalora’s success doesn’t lie in aggressive marketing. Markl explains it’s all about creating the perfect retail experience for the consumer.

Zalora MD Harry Markl at the Asia Fashion Summit 2014

Zalora MD Harry Markl at the Asia Fashion Summit 2014

How do you think e-commerce has changed the face of fashion retail?

“As a retailer, you need to offer consumers choice – if you’re not online, you will lose out. In Asia, the population is younger as compared to more mature markets in Europe, so there’s a natural gravitation towards all things web and mobile. As a retailer, you go where the consumers are.

Of course, you need to do more than just create a website and drive traffic. You need to understand your consumers and create an experience that converts them into repeat customers.”

Online shopping can be quite a cold and impersonal experience. How can brands bring a “personal touch” to the consumer’s online retail experience?

“After a customer first shops on Zalora, we will send them a short email to get feedback on their experience. For customers who rate our service as anything less than excellent, we will drop them a call to find out what exactly went wrong and how we can improve. Internally, we hold weekly meetings with all the departments to sort through these issues. This has had significant results on our customer relations. Between the time Zalora first launched and now, we’ve had far less reasons to call up customers.

Another way to engage with consumers is through pop-up store concepts. This allows your customers to touch and feel the products before buying, and interact with the people the brand. The important thing to remember is, pop-up stores are not about driving revenue. It’s about creating value for your consumers.”

How can e-commerce stores draw the line between being engaging and being spammy?

“Over the years, consumers have evolved from saying, ‘I want stuff’ to saying, ‘I want an experience’. Thus, it’s important that you don’t confuse your consumer or overwhelm them with too many products and clutter. One great way to engage with your consumers is through valuable content like brand stories, magazines, and trend reports.”

A peek at Zalora's latest trend report.

A peek at Zalora’s latest trend report.

Brands are often concerned about creating a beautiful and exciting brick-and-mortar storefront. How do you convince brands to overcome this and sell their products online on Zalora?

“For some of the brands we work with, they’re given a shopfront concept where they can talk up their products through videos and other branded content. In addition, we also spend a significant amount of time and money on models and product styling. The truth is, you can sell a not-so-great-looking product on a nice-looking model but not the other way round.”

The Asia Fashion Summit is organised by Textile & Fashion Federation (TaFf), and is a premier business conference that creates knowledge, provides and shares expert views on fashion topics that are important to fashion industry professionals in Asia. It’s on from today till 17 May 2014 at Suntec City Convention Centre.