Zalora says it is a ‘data first, then fashion’ company

E-commerce retailer Zalora has launched its own brand insights platform.

E-commerce fashion brand Zalora has launched an insights platform to help brand partners understand more about what people are buying, and why.

According to chief commercial officer Giulio Xiloyannis, the pace of change in the fashion market is so fast that more quality data is essential for brands to make decisions. The South East Asia company houses over 3,000 brands on its website, including global brands like Adidas, Nike and Abercrombie & Fitch.

The Trender platform is the latest iteration of Zalora’s ​‘data first, then fashion’ strategy.

“Through these valued brand partnerships, we have observed that brands have begun paying more attention to customer transaction data as a way of staying ahead of trends and adapting their offerings to meet customers’ evolving needs and preferences.

“As a company that leverages data analytics in the development of our own brand strategies, we thought it would be a timely opportunity to tap on our strong culture of innovation and launch a data-solutions service to help our partner brands in the market better adapt and meet customer needs,” explains Xiloyannis.

He says the launch of Trender last week was the first time it has opened up the data tools it uses itself, to brand partners.

“In today’s world, the more flexible and adaptable brands are in their offerings, the better chance they have in attracting and retaining customers. Any lag time between identifying a new trend and curating the right strategies to match it can place brands at a disadvantage.”

The platform allows any brand on the Zalora platform to find user insights which can help brands make decisions on marketing, merchandising, design and product development. Zalora says brands won’t be able to specifically look at another brand’s sales, though they will have access to users' behavioural and demographic data. It also has a geolocation data layer, which it believes can help inform brands' real estate decisions, as well as e-commerce decisions.

Trender has both a free version, which hands users a PDF report, and a premium level which gives users access to the dashboard. According to Xiloyannis, Zalora hopes that Trender will help brands make its platform work smarter for them, rather than serve as a cash cow product.

“Trender does come at an additional charge, and this charge will be a new revenue stream for Zalora, but a good part of it will go to covering data hosting costs, development costs and the licensing of the Tableau-powered dashboard which enhances the UI/UX of the tool for our partners. Additionally, Trender is being offered free of charge for the entirety of Q2 to help brands gain the most insights, at no cost, when they are most needed,” he explains.

With Coronavirus currently forcing many brands to quickly change strategies, greater insights into e-commerce audiences are no doubt in high demand.

“We believe that the value of real-time data is directly proportional to demand volatility and generally to ‘the speed at which things are changing’, and I think we can all say that demand has never been as volatile as it is now. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly had a significant impact on e-commerce... brands face a whole host of challenges – from difficulties in choosing the most effective marketing and advertising approach, to deciding which product they could or should promote. Having access to data and obtaining insights has become all the more valuable in helping brands navigate customer preferences and business priorities, and adapt their strategies accordingly,” he says.

Xiloyannis explains that Zalora has created a specialised dashboard for Covid-19 in recognition of its unique circumstances. “This includes shedding light on the shift from mobile to desktop, as more people stay home due to tighter safety measures, as well as the change in shopping behaviour pre- and post-Covid-19 by age group, category, price point and discount propensity. We have used these very same data and dashboards to help us re-adapt our strategies in the last few weeks, so we know it to be valuable and, above all, actionable.”

With Trender not necessarily being about driving huge profits for the company, it is instead a part of a larger brand mission to be the most innovative e-commerce brand in the market. Its ‘data first, then fashion’ mantra led the company to launch the Data Science Innovation lab, which Zalora says produced the insights that led to its ‘Shop the Look’ and ‘Follow the Brand’ features. The two features help give users style advice and promote recommendations.

“We have also marked many firsts in the industry, with the introduction of our visual search feature, and the launch of our shoppable live stream and shoppable styling videos on our app and website,” claims Xiloyannis.

Shoppable live stream videos are one of the biggest trends in e-commerce in South East Asia. Pomelo chief marketing officer (CMO) Jean Thomas and Lazada CMO Michelle Yip recently spoke to The Drum about their shoppable live stream services as part of The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival.

Xiloyannis says Zalora’s aspiration to break ground has also driven decisions to be ahead of the industry on sustainability issues.

“Our desire to innovate has also enabled us to be a pioneer in the e-commerce industry. Apart from the recent launch of Trender, we have also embraced sustainability as one of our key areas of focus in the coming years. We recognise the increasing demand amongst consumers for sustainable products and offerings, and have partnered with luxury marketplace reseller Style Tribute in Singapore and Malaysia to introduce a ‘Pre-loved’ category, where customers can purchase pre-loved luxury items on Zalora’s website and mobile app,” he says.

The real reason for the focus on data, over fashion, according to Xiloyannis, is that it helps the company to be customer-first, something that it believes is crucial in times of ‘demand volatility’.

“Technology and data play central roles in our company. They are integrated into all aspects of our operations. Ultimately, our success lies in our data-driven strategies, and we will continue to leverage this to better serve our customers across the region,” he says.

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