Meet the Singaporean democratising fashion online
Noticing that Southeast Asia’s local retailers were often missing from the online marketplace, Ankiti Bose co-founded Zilingo, a Singaporebased e-commerce venture that aggregates small fashion brands from the region on a single platform. She spoke to Sout
How did you end up in this industry? I always knew I wanted to be in tech – it’s an area where creativity in problem solving really shines. I felt there was a huge gap in the online retail space and, despite the ubiquitousness of the internet, there was a massive section of young businesses that were not able to use the digital economy to their benefit. What excited me the most about starting Zilingo was that we were – and still are – on a mission to amplify the way technology is used to grow business. How has the domination of the internet changed the nature of a career in the retail industry? Retail, like other industries, has become far more democratised. It’s no longer the Louis Vuittons and Zaras that rule fashion, for example. Small vendors, young designers and aspiring business people have a chance to break that status quo without breaking the bank. At Zilingo, for example, we have 4,000-plus sellers growing their online business and reaching customers who are continents away from them. In real time, these sellers are able to track inventory, plan their order dispatching, receive payments and run promotions, all through a simple-to-use dashboard on the cloud. In an internet-less world, this would have never been possible. What are you looking for when choosing a vendor to feature on your site?
I’m looking for vendors who only sell fashion and lifestyle products. We have guidelines set up regarding image quality, product quality and shipping timelines to ensure an excellent shopping experience for our customers. Our focus is on the millennial crowd, and their average spend is about $15, so we have quite a few vendors that specialise in fast fashion. What advice would you offer to people wanting to build a career in the online fashion industry? As an individual, the hunger to learn and grow, I think, is very important. Change is the only constant in this industry so being adaptable to a fast-moving environment is an asset. Most importantly, as in any tech industry, one needs to champion innovation and audacious thinking. What has got Zilingo and our team ahead is that we celebrate our crazy ideas and our ambition to do what others are too afraid to do.
– Madeleine Keck