Asia's Fashion Expert Drives E-Commerce Success through AI and Platform Services
Simone Cortini, Chief Platform Officer, ZALORA
Empowering Agile Logistics: Leveraging B2B Platform Services for Fast, Efficient Operations in a Dynamic Market
After undergoing rapid change in the early years of the pandemic, the e-commerce landscape in Southeast Asia is facing higher-than-ever demand with the market size projected to triple at a CAGR of 22% and will reach around $230 billion in gross merchandise volume by 2026.
Against this backdrop, we aim to help brands and businesses succeed amid the complexities of the Southeast Asian market through our all-encompassing suite of platform services, including Data Solutions as well as E-Fulfilment and E-Distribution Solutions, which empower them to use our data quickly to respond to market fluctuations and unforeseen events, while boosting efficiency and cutting operational costs.
Our Data Solutions utilise proprietary consumer data to help brands and businesses anticipate key trends and develop a nuanced understanding of the region. By analysing data from over 59 million monthly visits from 2.6 million active customers across seven markets, we are able to provide valuable insights into geo segmentation, buying behaviour, design intelligence, assortment and pricing insights, which are highly useful for various industry stakeholders – from marketers to merchandisers to designers.
Our in-house creative capacity and in-depth industry expertise also offer advertising and marketing solutions to brands and businesses, driving online sales and performance in a simpler way while offering a deep understanding of the Southeast Asian consumer.
Another aspect of fashion e-commerce platform services would be the E-Fulfilment and E-Distribution services across the heart of Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines. These services help brands and businesses navigate the complex Southeast Asian supply chain more efficiently by tapping on the state-of-the-art logistics capabilities that we have built over the last decade.
Utilising Holistic B2B Platform Services: A Case Study
Taking everything together, the combination of our holistic platform services has empowered global brands such as Puma to relaunch and expand their presence in Southeast Asian markets, like the Philippines, with maximum exposure. Having already worked with us in the Singapore and Malaysia markets, the expanded partnership served to consolidate and centralise the brand’s online operations in the region through the use of our E-Distribution services in the more complex, archipelagic regions of the Philippines.
By leveraging the e-commerce supply chain infrastructure in its go-to-market strategy, Puma was able to scale its business in the Philippines with full discretion, while still reducing the logistical risks and potential complexity involved. Their transition away from existing joint ventures with local distributors was also made seamless through our fulfilment-as-a-service offering, One Stock Solution (1SS).
Puma also tapped into our digital platform services, which encompassed our 360 digital marketing solutions – onsite banners, EDMs, organic social postings, performance marketing ads – to increase brand awareness. Our data-driven creative solutions enabled the brand to gain consumer insights that were unique to the market, affording them better customer segmentation and targeting.
This demonstrates how we are shifting beyond just solely being an e-commerce platform towards becoming Southeast Asia’s e-commerce enabler. Ultimately, our goal is to help brands - big and small - scale their presence overseas and stand out in a crowded virtual space.
Revolutionising E-Commerce: Harnessing AI and Platform Services for Seamless Fulfilment
With the advancements in technology, consumer expectations have also risen. The ease of getting products on the same day has influenced consumer behaviour and expectations, along with the availability of same-day deliveries. Consumers are now less willing to wait for their purchases, and online businesses are expected to keep up with this demand.
As the world witnesses the rise of AI, its workings are especially pronounced in transforming the retail and e-commerce industry. The AI-enabled e-commerce market size is projected to reach $16.8 billion by 2030, at a growing rate of 15.7% CAGR in the next 8 years. Anticipating this trend, we have proactively embraced AI technologies to improve operational efficiencies, with the integration of TITAN and OpenAI into our framework.
TITAN is geared to drive technological progress in key operational aspects, such as smart search discovery, conversational shopping assistants, production automation and internal chatbots. These integrated features will play an important role in shaping the future of e-commerce experiences for consumers by offering a more interactive and efficient interface and enhancing the overall consumer journey.
Seamlessly Integrating AI and Automation into Existing Infrastructure
The integration of AI and automation into logistics infrastructure offers significant value for e-commerce, fostering customer trust and loyalty, reducing costs and delays, and even providing insights for process improvement. We have already started harnessing the potential of OpenAI to not only improve the customer experience but also to address significant business challenges. One key facet of this is the automation of production services, which includes tagging complex product attributes such as colour, pattern and sleeve length. The automatic generation of SKUs, coupled with comprehensive product descriptions, has led to significant improvements in search accuracy, a reduction in labour-intensive manual entry, reduced reliance on third parties and an enhanced customer experience.
The strategic use of generative AI enables us to create a more intelligent customer service landscape. This includes an automated platform that is capable of responding to customer queries and resolving issues autonomously by understanding customer needs and providing personalised responses. By delegating routine tasks to AI, human customer service agents are freed up to focus on more complex matters, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience.
Navigating the Future: Unveiling Disruptions and Ensuring Resilience in E-Commerce's AI-Powered Era
One frequently discussed risk associated with the adoption of AI and automation is the potential displacement of jobs in traditional roles, such as warehousing and customer service. However, we see AI as an opportunity to unlock the potential of the workforce by allowing them to further develop their skills and focus on more complex tasks. This could include monitoring systems, analysing data or providing customer service with a personal human touch. An additional risk associated with AI in e-commerce is the security of customer data. With platforms managing significant amounts of this data, there is the potential for data breaches and complications with data security. This is why our culture of innovation is inherently customer-centric – we prioritise the protection of the millions of people we serve and their confidential data.
Finally, as AI technologies gain wider traction within businesses, there is a potential risk of overreliance on AI for decision-making, which could result in uniform strategies and offerings that lack differentiation. Our culture of innovation is specifically designed to break away from this trend. This was demonstrated during a recent 32-hour hackathon, which saw the participation of over 70 individuals spanning 13 teams. Their collective efforts were dedicated to tackling authentic business and customer challenges using AI technologies. The outcome of this hackathon included functional prototypes and concepts, ranging from virtual shopping assistants, chatbots for internal business intelligence and automated error detection for returns, alongside a host of other innovative ideas.