Tuesday 25 August 2015

From discounts to curation, online fashion gets a makeover

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.

“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 Arjun Zacharia, CEO of Wooplr, a fashion discovery platform. 

Started in 2011, 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 close to 100 million users on its app. 

Red Polka, another fashion curation startup, also sees curation, personalisation and socialisation as the next step in online fashion retail.

"Today, 30-35% of our visitors are repeat audiences. We are working with 85-odd designer brands and a large number of those brands have seen the impact of Red Polka on their sales and order books. By this month-end, we are expecting to cross 100 designer brands. This was the target for the entire year, which we have achieved in just seven months," says Vishakha Singh, founder, Red Polka.

"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. This not only help shoppers, but also gives retailers a new ways to connect with customers, build a distinctive brand, and increase online sales," she adds.

The future of fashion curation portals and interest of shoppers and brands in them can be further measured through Myntra's plan to use its  tons of data  to build a fashion platform which will showcase customer-loving products with the help of data science and artificial intelligence (AI). Myntra has reportedly developed a smart bot -- a web application that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to have conversations with humans -- which accumulates fashion-related information from across the online world, and can be further used as a base to design products. 

The company is currently running a pilot and is in the process to launch this by next month with an aim to disrupt the current way of expert-based fashion forecasting through its 100% tech-backed solution.

"With big players joining the league, our stand has further validated. However, every company has its own DNA. Ours is curation and discovery, while for them its product-listing. Executing this innovation may perhaps be challenging for Myntra, but will definitely make the segment more exciting and competitve," Zacharia concludes.

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