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Q&A: Sylvia Yin of Shoppr on making shopping fun

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Online store aggregator Shoppr is one of Malaysia’s most watched retail startups. We chatted with co-founder and COO Sylvia Yin at Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2016 to find out more about the app’s beginnings, marketing to millennials and the personalised shopping experience.

Retail in Asia (RiA): Tell us how Shoppr began.

Sylvia Yin (SY): Shoppr started one year ago when I moved back from the UK, where I fell in love with online shopping. When I came back to Malaysia, it was quite hard to find an online store that catered to what I liked. That’s when I realised that there’s an opportunity in optimising the top funnel of online shopping, which is discovering brands and products.

RiA: What’s unique about Shoppr?

SY: If you go onto Shoppr and do a simple search for a red dress, the app gives you results from over 3,000 brands. That’s a lot, but using our algorithm, we are able to narrow it down to a subset that best suits your personality, tastes, preference or price. That’s a hit among our user demographic.

RiA: What were some of the challenges you faced starting Shoppr?

SY: When Shoppr first started as an app, the Malaysian consumer hadn’t really caught on with the pace of technology yet, and a lot of users were choosing to transact online. So, we had to create a web version of Shoppr.

RiA: Who are your target consumers?

SY: Shoppr targets customers between 25 to 35 — working women who have the purchasing power but not necessarily the time to drive to the mall or spend hours on the internet.

SEE ALSO: What retailers need to know about millennials

RiA: How do you market to millennials?

SY: Eighty to 90% of our user base are millennials, and we target them where they are most comfortable — on social media. We write articles and optimise for SEO. We’ve rolled out loyalty programs and ambassador programs. Millennials’ preferences are always changing, and they are constantly seeking new experiences.

WATCH: Sylvia Yin shares one of her proudest moments with Shoppr

SY: The proudest I ever felt was when we released our personalised recommendation feature. Shoppr is about a fun and efficient shopping experience, so receiving a personalised recommendation is like receiving a screenshot from your best friend of an item they think you’d look great in. I’m very proud of having that human touch.

RiA: Thoughts on physical stores versus e-commerce?

SY: I think they can’t be seen as separate strategies. Every business has to think of itself as a business with different distribution strategies. You can’t be purely e-commerce or offline, you need to have both.

RiA: What is the future of retail?

SY: Malls would be experience theme parks, so consumers would walk into retail stores to experience the brand, to understand how that brand fits into their life story. Store assistants would be stylists or experience creators, who would lead workshops or in-store events to get the user to understand what the brand and product is about.

MORE: See our video on the #FutureofRetail featuring Stylerunner, Althea, Love, Bonito, Costco Asia, Zalora and more at Retail Congress Asia Pacific. 

Retail in Asia is an official media partner of Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2016. See our full coverage from the Congress here.

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