Fashion is one of the industries that has been disrupted by the advent of new technology. From offline to online, retailers are taking a step back and are exploring an omnichannel approach as customers long for a memorable shopping experience.
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From its design studios in Bangkok, to the doorsteps of millions around the world, Pomelo is a fast fashion brand launched in 2013 with a global mindset. Created by former Lazada Thailand Managing Director David Jou, the vertically integrated business has made some noise in the industry with its new retail strategy.
Working with manufacturing partners and handling its own production process from sourcing materials to design to retailing, Pomelo manages the full customer journey.
Among other innovative micro-retail points, customers can have their products shipped at home or to a store for trying on the fit before finalising their purchase.
Last July, Retail in Asia joined RISE in Hong Kong, the largest tech conference in Asia attracting over 70,000 attendees from 170+ countries around the world.
David was invited to join the RISE conference to provide insights on Pomelo’s new retail model and how they are coping with the continuous changes within the fashion industry and at the same time being part of it. “Rise is all about companies and people seeking to disrupt how business is traditionally done. This is where Pomelo comes into play. As disruptor of the fast fashion space that has long been controlled by EU fast fashion brands, Pomelo not only provides a better experience, but also better products combined with social responsible, innovative, and creative way,” he said.
Retail in Asia had the chance to meet and interview David. He shared with us his views on the future of retail giving examples on how he is driving innovation at Pomelo. “New retail is all about micro retail points. We must figure out how to design physical and digital touchpoints across the everyday customer journey,” that’s how David opened the interview.
On trend. Online. On the go. is Pomelo’s philosophy. To make sure they stay true to it, David explained how they are rapidly increasing the assortment, soon reaching thousands of different styles, while personalizing the experience for each and every single individual.
In deepening its product line, this year, Pomelo will launch a men and cosmetics line, both available in their offline stores.
New technologies and customer preferences have challenged the way that all companies – in all sectors – approach every aspect of their business. Retail is no different and as customers are striving for greater authenticity and personalization, innovation is no longer an opportunity, but has become a necessity. Sustainability is one of the hot topic where a lot of innovations are being brought.
Other than the ethical reasons, going green offers a wealth of benefits for both retailers and their customers. David explained that Pomelo “thinks about it in a startup-like way by taking a lean approach to sustainability”.
This June, the brand has released a sustainable collection named Purpose. Through it, they can “test hypotheses, take the features and strategy they assessed and identify the ones which worked to then scale them up throughout the company and across different product lines”.
An example of this strategy is a feature released within Purpose whereby a QR code available on the clothing labels of the collection can be scanned to give consumers the possibility to easily recycle the item. Indeed, it redirects clients to an app where they can schedule for a recycling company to come and pick up their used clothes, free of charge, to be donated or recycled.
David shared insights on the Asian market’s response to this collection as he told us that following the releasing of Purpose “tons of folks reached out wanting to feature us in the press and on social medias.”. He added “people care deeply but do not know the right way of expressing their concerns. We need to give options to socially aware and responsible customers. The reality today is that people will not care unless we give them the option to do so through practical and well thought solutions. Our customers are well educated. All we need to do is offer them a product which encompasses these issues.”.
David also urges people to “disregard data when it comes to sustainability or the adoption of innovative technologies. You have to go with what you know to be right and the market will follow.”. Indeed, Pomelo’s CEO shared how he had seen a survey which asked people how important sustainability was to their apparel purchasing decisions and, to his surprise, a majority stated it was not a big factor for their purchasing decisions. However, David still moved forward with Purpose and he was right as the market responded very positively to his initiative.
Millennials are a market segment which are strongly aware and attentive to sustainability. Nevertheless, Pomelo doesn’t solely focus on this customer segment as they have a very “extensive customer base”.
From “teenagers to mothers”, their customers are people who “like fashion, follow the latest trend and are looking for something fun and new” but also those who are “digitally native” and therefore “comfortable with the latest technologies.
Pomelo’s strategy naturally points towards “urban centers and big metro cities like Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore as we are looking for people on the move who cannot afford to spend hours in shopping malls, walking around and checking out clothes. We also look at people who care about quality but do not want to overpay for it”.
With over 20 different nationalities represented at Pomelo, the brand is proud to define itself as an international company. This multicultural presence allows them to have a full understanding of their markets.
“I think the key is to create a personal relationship with your customer through the use of social and digital while trying to build a customer experience which fits our new lifestyle. Our three main markets are Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. There, people are always on their phones, moving around and travelling which is why you have to build a fashion experience that fits today’s customers’ lifestyle. We strive every day to make this experience more seamless while deepening the level of engagement. This is more important than the typical metrics people usually look at such as the number of stores you possess or the current pricing in the market.”
Day after day, as Pomelo grows, David seeks to “get everybody to think big while making sure we never lose focus on the day to day customer experience”.
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Moving forward, David shared Pomelo’s plan to “open physical touchpoints including stores across Southeast Asia”. He said “a lot of activities will take place in the next 8 to 24 months. We are soon rolling out in Kuala Lumpur and Hong-Kong is also coming-up. We are all about continuous improvements, not making the same mistakes twice, finding better ways of doing the same thing each and every day. We continuously push ourselves. We must stay focus and prioritize as change is coming fast.”
David left us on the following note “We are standing in No Man’s Land, trying to figure out our own path.”