Fashion gets on a discovery mode

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So many of today’s apps focus on barcode scanning, deals and offers or price comparisons, but none simply rounded up all the nearby sales at local retailers in one easy-to-access mobile application. Wooplr is one of India first fashion discovery app which has the fastest growing community of shoppers of which 80 percent are women. Ankit Sabharwal talks to Images Business of Fashion about its new app and how the mobile platform presents a huge opportunity for Wooplr.
What is Wooplr?
According to Ankit Sabharwal, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, there are two frequently used type of apps that are a favourite; one is used for shopping and the other for discovery. Wooplr not only lets consumers browse for a 100 million different products to the point of purchase, it also navigates consumers to various platforms that inspires a shopper on their next purchase, making the app different from traditional commerce platforms. Wooplr has soon grown into an engaging community of users of currently over 7,00,000 app users browsing on the platform. They are both content creators and consumers. The discovery aspect of fashion trends and style is the biggest pull factor, followed by sharing of newly purchased apparel to what users plan to buy next.
Explains Ankit, “The important aspect in this discovery is the personalisation, as people
really would like to know what they really like. There is a global shift towards personalisation. Every domain, company and e-commerce is moving towards personalisation as it is an app that knows its users.”
How is it useful?
Regular apps offer discount sales to boost networking, but on a discovery app, consumers
end up spending more time on the app and find out what its new features are before
carrying out their purchases. With around 400 online fashion brands on the app, Wooplr
has offered its consumers the omni-channel experience of online and offline store
Explains Ankit, “We have over 14,000 offline boutiques and shops listed by our user on a
platform. We have tied up with some of the top fashion brands like Raymonds, Zara and we allow people to discover what is great about these brands.”
Ankit also tries to maintain the app as an exclusive women’s fashion app, “It is also about the community who gets involved. Women are more forward in sharing their styles and getting inspired by an app like Wooplr. We wanted to make a conscious choice that women feel that it is their platform. The idea is also that we can have 2-3 categories on the app, but as a start up we would like to focus on one aspect of fashion because the response we received from that community was tremendous.”
Research & development
Following their years at McAfee, four partners: Praveen Rajaretnam, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-Founder; Soumen Sarkar, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder; Arjun Zacharia, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder and Ankit Sabharwal, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder, teamed up to start an app as they followed and discovered the new trends around them. Ankit graduated in 2010 and had started a small start up where he had explored design and later went on to got into 360 degree photography for real estates. He got into the McAfee company where he worked for a year and that was where he had met his partners. At Wooplr, Ankit looks after the product, content and the overall look of the app. Praveen Rajaretnam takes care of marketing, Souman Sarkar takes care of technology and Arjun Zacharia takes care of business development.
Elaborates Ankit, “Wooplr started from our own personal investment when we were
boot strapped. We had spent less than 5 lakh just to make sure our primary server and
infrastructure, the app and the platform were hosted and built. We are present in 74 percent of Bengaluru.”
Ankit would also go up to his friends place to ask where they had bought their shoes or
T shirts from. He soon realised that people actually knew certain things and at the same
time had no clue about revolving fashion which can at times be difficult for consumers
to catch up on. Offline, consumers have a very limited social circle which can often be
so limited that they end up going out. The Wooplr app was launched in 2014 and the app
saw a tremendous amount of growth in the past one year hitting 1,00,000 users.
“We launched the Wooplr app in January 2014. Growth has been tremendous in the
past one year. We had hit a 1,00,000 users and now have 1 million. People do intend to
buy a variety of things and we redirect them to our affiliate stores. When we started out
with Wooplr, shopping was not a major part of the platform. In order to complete the
experience for our consumers, we introduced commerce last month and the results have
been tremendous. We are looking at 45 percent of our unique users, who are intending to buy a particular product and more than a million in a month. Over the next 2 years we want to hit a 100 million dollars GNP. We expect around 2 million users by the next one year.”
How does it work?
When a consumer installs a Wooplr app on their mobile phone, they immediately get a
run through about what the app is all about. Following this, an app user will be given
knowledge of what is trending around them, what people are wearing and shopping around them. It is in fact a live feed of the kind of spending that is going on. This makes Wooplr different from a traditional e-commerce store where the app user will look at a certain inventory that a merchandiser has presented and show you what people are shopping for and what people are actually buying. So now, when the end user begins to share their style, they take an outfit photo, then they are able to comment on it and even hash tag it. For instance, if a person is wearing a pink top with blue denim, the items can be tagged and optionally tell the other users where they bought them from. Once the output post is tagged, the Wooplr search engine automatically looks at the best matches for other people to shop for. So when a user comes to the consumer’s post, they will be able to see what the app user is wearing. If the other person would like to shop the same look, they can do so by clicking on it.
Adds Ankit,”We also started a collections community to show our community of users
the new fashion trends from different brands. We are doing more experiments in the
field of fashion so that we can redefine how people consume fashion in India which is not
According to Ankit, at the moment the payment is done through third party affiliates
of the store. The experience is also maintained by them. In the next few weeks, Wooplr
has plans of rolling out their own buying experience app.
While shopping through an app, one has to make sure that the interface is clean, so
that people are able to navigate through it thoroughly. The app does come with a few
challenges. Unlike the traditional desk top where one can look at really high resolution
images and photos, the Wooplr app, has to work really hard on compressing the
images and making sure that the quality is not distorted. The app functions on a one
tab checkout experience. The delivery of the products are done by the brand.
Another major challenge that Ankit has seen, is the speed in the app. At Wooplr,
speed has been one of the primary issues as the mobile app is very heavy. People like an
infinite stream of information when they are browsing or shopping as they usually do not
know what they like. Explains Ankit, “While consuming so many photos, we do not want to tell our customers off by saying that they have just used up 1MB of their data pack. So we have taken effort to compress all the images and taking into consideration the quality of the images and use edms to make sure that the images stay closer to our users.”
Marketing & promotions
The Wooplr app is marketed as a budget friendly app to begin with. Ankit is certain
that the growing and engaging community will pull in more people by word of mouth. The validity option on the app allows users to talk about their experience with their friends which Ankit feels will give the company the organic reach that the company is looking for.
He adds, “We take all the content and market them on social media platforms, we are
tied up with our campus community programs and apart from that, we have bloggers and app users helping us spread news about the our app. We are targeting the 16-30 years old.”
The way forward
The main bulk of users comes from Delhi with more than 35 percent of Wooplr app
users, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru recording the largest consumption with 70-75 percent Wooplr also has a lot of user activities coming from Pune as well as Chandigarh. The company has also opened a branch in Ankit is also keen about growing his base in Mumbai and Delhi.

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