Is Virtual Reality The Future Of Southeast Asia’s Fashion E-Commerce Industry?

We chat to Zalora’s CEO, Gunjan Soni, and Private Label Director, Stefanie Block, to find out more about the booming business of e-commerce

Zalora

Gunjan Soni and Stefanie Block. Photo: Courtesy

As Asia’s leading online fashion destination, Zalora currently offers over 500 international and local labels and offers everything from womenswear and menswear to footwear and accessories to match. BAZAAR sat down with Zalora’s CEO, Gunjan Soni, and Private Label Director, Stefanie Block, to find out more about the booming business of e-commerce and what three items every woman should have in her wardrobe.

How would you say e-commerce has changed the fashion landscape, particularly over the last few years?
GS: I think it has changed phenomenally. If you think about it from a consumer point of view, the kind of choice that is available now is something we have never had before, particularly for those living in more remote areas where setting up real estate has been difficult. If you look at the brands and the fashion ecosystem, I think whether you like it or not e-commerce has ended up shaping that as well. These days it’s almost impossible for a brand to succeed without having an online presence as it allows them to expand their market reach.

What are your predictions for the industry moving forward?
GS: I think one of the biggest changes will be the increased use of virtual reality and augmented reality to shape the user buying experience, especially when it comes to e-commerce and fashion. One of the biggest barriers to online fashion has always been that missing touch and feel, getting to try a product on and see how it looks on you. To help combat this we are looking at virtual fitting rooms that are far more real than we have ever seen before and using augmented reality to predict how a garment will fit you.

Zalora

Photo: Courtesy

Zalora now houses quite a few private labels. Could you tell us more about each label and how they differ from each other?
SB: Zalora has four different private labels which we divide into women’s apparel and modest wear. In women’s apparel we have Zalora, our core inhouse label, which is designed for the contemporary shopper and includes smart work wear to the very best casual weekend range. Another women’s apparel range is Something Borrowed, which is a much younger and trendier range. It caters to the girl that is engaged in social media and wants to follow the latest fashion trends. Then we have two modest wear labels: Zalia and Lubna. Zalia offers modest fashion with a modern twist while Lubna caters to the younger customer, the girl who wants to be trendy yet modest.

Do you have any advice for those who are still cautious about online shopping?
GS: The simplest advice I have would be “go try it” because you really are missing out. I think what you’re largely missing out on is choice, and of course, the added benefit of convenience, especially when time is limited. With e-commerce you can shop while you’re travelling or even on the MRT on your way to work.

Zalora

Photo: Courtesy

What does a typical day at the Zalora office look like for you?
GS: To be honest, I think it’s more of a typical week. Every Monday we start the week with something called a “top of mind” meeting where we discuss everything that’s top of mind for that week and to make sure we are all on the same page. Every week we also have a consumer forum where our customer experience team shares their insights and we listen to customer calls, usually the unhappy ones, so we can figure out what improvements we need to make. The only constant in my life is my nighttime routine. I always take my dog for a walk after dinner and that gives me a little bit of peace and clarity.

What are the key trends for spring/summer 2019?
SB: For Zalora it’s all about utility, tailored suiting, and athleisure of course. In terms of colours we are seeing a lot of nudes, earth tones, and trusty animal print.

What three items should every woman have in her wardrobe?
SB: If I had to narrow it down I would say a dark wash denim, the perfect white tee, and a sharp blazer because that’s the base of your essentials and at the same time, the best 24 hour look I can imagine.  

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