Building a Fashion Em­pire: Zalora is Asia’s largest fashion e-com­merce site

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents -

The com­pany spe­cialises in every­thing from cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories to footwear and beauty prod­ucts. But it takes more than a wide reach and prod­uct se­lec­tion to make a suc­cess­ful e-com­merce site, ac­cord­ing to Mag­nus Grime­land, co-founder of Zalora and man­ag­ing director of Global Fashion Group, the com­pany which ac­quired Zalora a lit­tle over a year ago.

“I think what dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from a lot of other fashion e-com­merce sites in South­east Asia is that we have in­vested a lot into the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mag­nus Grime­land ex­plains. “For ex­am­ple if you are in Bangkok, Jakarta or Sin­ga­pore, you can get your or­ders de­liv­ered the same or the next day, and in the rest of the coun­tries we de­liver very quickly and re­li­ably. When we tell you when we will de­liver, we de­liver at that time. In gen­eral, we make it very easy for the cus­tomer to re­turn their pur­chase, which is very im­por­tant to us be­cause with on­line shop­ping it is very dif­fi­cult to get the right siz­ing the first time around.”

“Our strong lo­cal reach also al­lows us to do things like cash on de­liv­ery. In most of our mar­kets in South­east Asia you can pur­chase a prod­uct and only pay when it ar­rives on your doorstep. So you don’t have to bother with en­ter­ing in credit card info. A lot of our cus­tomers also don’t have a credit card so it is a good so­lu­tion for peo­ple with­out a bank ac­count.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mag­nus Grime­land, it is this com­bi­na­tion of great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and a huge and ever grow­ing se­lec­tion of prod­ucts that have en­abled the com­pany to ex­pand so rapidly. “Our ex­pan­sion strategy is to fo­cus on the coun­tries where we be­lieve we can de­liver a good cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. That means all of the South­east Asian coun­tries where we be­lieve the in­fra­struc­ture is in place,” he says. “Some­times we work to­gether with lo­cal part­ners to cre­ate that in­fra­struc­ture but of course one of the main cri­te­ria is that there are a cer­tain amount of peo­ple on the in­ter­net and that it is pos­si­ble for us to build the in­fra­struc­ture to de­liver quickly and re­li­ably. Se­condly, we try to en­sure that we ex­pand as quickly as pos­si­ble be­cause in e-com­merce both you and the cus­tomer ben­e­fit from scale. The big­ger you are, the more prod­ucts you can of­fer and the lower ship­ping costs you have, so you can de­liver bet­ter prices to your cus­tomers. Also, with scale you can to do every­thing bet­ter and more ef­fec­tively.”

A lit­tle more than a year ago, Zalora was merged into Global Fashion Group and Mag­nus Grime­land went from be­ing one of the founders and man­ag­ing director of Zalora to be­com­ing man­ag­ing director of Global Fashion Group, The group op­er­ates in 27 coun­tries, in­clud­ing coun­tries in South America and the Mid­dle East as well as Rus­sia and India, amongst oth­ers.

“We op­er­ate in very var­ied coun­tries,” says Mag­nus Grime­land. “Some core char­ac­ter­is­tics are the same, how­ever. What is very im­por­tant in e-com­merce is de­liv­er­ing a very good

“Cen­tral Group is a very strong group and a great new owner of the busi­ness in Thai­land and Viet­nam,” says Mag­nus Grime­land, man­ag­ing director of Global Fashion Group, which ac­quired Zalora just over a year ago. “There are a lot of syn­er­gies be­tween what Cen­tral Group and Zalora was do­ing there, so hope­fully they can de­liver an even stronger prod­uct in the years to come.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mag­nus Grime­land, who co-founded Zalora, there are huge ben­e­fits to new group that Zalora now is part of – the Global Fashion Group.

“We have gone from al­most noth­ing to be­ing part of a global group with ac­cess to 27 mar­kets and we con­tinue to see very healthy growth. There is a lot more value we can cre­ate both to our cus­tomers but also to the com­pany as a whole and this is where part­ner­ships are im­por­tant. When we were run­ning and building Zalora, we were learn­ing from any­one we could learn from. Now we have six amaz­ing e-com­merce com­pa­nies in the port­fo­lio. Some things one com­pany does re­ally well and other things another com­pany does re­ally well. You can take the best of the best prac­tices and ex­pe­ri­ences and learn from them and de­ploy them in other parts of the re­gion.

“It is rare to have an e-com­merce group that has a global pres­ence across all these mar­kets, es­pe­cially for fashion, so we have a unique value prepo­si­tion that we can of­fer to our sup­pli­ers and part­ners that again will ben­e­fit the cus­tomers. What I’m fo­cussing on now is re­al­is­ing all that value and en­sur­ing that we reap the re­wards from all this po­ten­tial that we have. Most of our mar­kets are in are in the same sit­u­a­tion as South­east Asia: e-com­merce pen­e­tra­tion is low and grow­ing and the fashion mar­ket is grow­ing. We are in the mid­dle of this, hav­ing al­ready built a very good plat­form and a good cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence that we can only make bet­ter. So I’m very pos­i­tive about the fu­ture and I think we will just con­tinue do­ing more of what we do to­day.”

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