As e-commerce continues to grow and consumers increasingly turn to the web or an app to find products they need, e-tailing is slowly but gradually witnessing a shift from a plain-vanilla listing of products towards personalisation for consumers, through curated platforms.
The trend is more visible in fashion and lifestyle category where shopping through these sites became an exercise rather than an experience; searching page after page for a specific product simply got tiresome after a point.
Shifting The Trend
“The e-commerce industry has completely been discount driven, which is a high cash burn and not a sustainable strategy. Fashion curation platforms, on the other hand, have tried to shift the trend. They not only increase a brand’s customer reach but also boost the consumer stickiness to the platform,” believes CEO of Wooplr, a fashion discovery platform, Arjun Zacharia.
Started in 2013, Wooplr helps consumers discover and buy products from stores around them through recommendations drawn from a combination of three tools. “The first is Social Recommendation from people you follow on our application. Then, a taste graph, which is developed on the basis of data collected according to the action/purchases done in the past and lastly, a trend chart that is created using computer data science and recommendations,” Zacharia explains.
Wooplr is present in more than 100 cities and has three million users across web and mobile app.
Red Polka, another fashion curation startup, also sees curation, personalisation and socialisation as the next step in online fashion retail.
“Today, 30-35 per cent of our visitors are repeat audiences. We are working with 200 plus odd designer brands and a large number of those brands have seen the impact of Red Polka. Our weekly edition of curation of designs, stories of designers and content on designs and trends has helped Red Polka create a strong position in Shoppers’ minds,” says Founder Red Polka, Vishakha Singh.
“Consumers have evolved over the years. They want much more than bumper discounts. Our team of fashion curators showcases niche, crafted products under a weekly theme,” she adds.
Over the last few months, Red Polka has created Omnichannel presence and is hosting Red Polka Shows: a day-long experience zone where brands get to meet shoppers and shoppers can experience and buy designs at the place. The idea is to bring the designers and shoppers closer together.
Social Shopping: Taking Fashion Up Close & Personal
Not just curation, some fashion commerce platforms has also prefixed the word “social” to online fashion shopping. Social shopping has become a buzzword that has been gaining momentum in India over the past few months.
But what does it actually entail?
“Social shopping is more like building the most extensive discovery platform, where consumers come because they get to discover simply great products at affordable prices. And this discovery is best led through social channels,” CEO and Founder of Delhi-based social shopping platform, Limeroad, Suchi Mukherjee told Indiaretailing in an earlier interview.
In other words, social shopping fills a fundamental desire of any shopper for social interaction and decision reassurance while they shop on the web.
For many, shopping from a screen simply isn’t as appealing as walking into a store and making a purchase, so social shopping aims to recreate the best parts of in-store shopping.
Limeroad’s ‘scrapbook’ feature allows users create scrapbooks in which they put together looks by mixing and matching various product combinations and share with others who can browse through them and discover interesting looks. The feature works on a focused approach to retain a prolific relationship with both customers and the vendors on Limeroad’s marketplace.
“We make sure that the vendors are able to establish beautiful stores of their own without having to rely on excessive retail costs, while at the same time having access to an army of scrapbookers who are essentially helping them make their products look gorgeous and thereby reach out to millions of potential buyers. It’s an entirely symbiotic association between the vendor and the consumer,” Mukherjee told Indiaretailing.
Personalisation & Curation
The future of fashion curation portals, social shopping platforms and interest of shoppers and brands in them can be further measured by the fact that big players are also trying their hands with personalisation and curation.
For instance, Myntra last year introduced a revolutionary concept that leverages Artificial Intelligence and big data analytics to significantly shorten the fashion production life cycle. ‘Artie’, an indigenously developed smart bot, gathers consumer insights to create a range of on-trend, fast fashion apparel under the ‘ModaRapido’ brand.
The AI platform was developed with the objective of leveraging technology to develop a better understanding of consumer interest/ likes and shorten fashion life cycles.
The smart bot gathers all fashion-related information in real time and uses it as a base to determine trends and forecast demand. The complex yet seamless process shortens the design to production cycle from about six months in the traditional practice, to only three weeks.
Great First Impression
As per a Google India estimates, fashion e-commerce will grow to $35 billion by 2020 (or around 35 per cent of total e-commerce revenue). It is the largest and most profitable e-commerce category globally.
While the segment offers tremendous scope to experiment with business models, the fact is that fashion portals today are a dime-a-dozen and curated sites even more. To stay ahead of the curve, curated fashion portals need to create a strong first impression, apart from providing exceptional customer experience.
Sophisticated personalised product selections, styling advice and curation by experts are all ways that fashion portals can stay far ahead of the maddening crowd.