by Staff Reporter on 26/06/12 at 2:06 pm
Against the background of the growing international ecommerce market where, according to research firm Mintel, online fashion sales in 2010 were a booming R54-billion and Spain’s online fashion leader Privalia singularly booked R3.3-billion in 2011, SA fashion ecommerce is following suit. Recent MasterCard and World Wide Worx studies presented jointly, show SA turning to online buying with almost 90% of South Africa’s online shoppers being satisfied with their Internet shopping experience, and 73% likely to make a purchase in the next 6 months, increasing this segment of the market by 23% to R2.6-billion.
SA’s online fashion retail pioneer, 36Boutiques, is one of those expected to lead the pack. By combining ecommerce expertise, online publishing strength and a community of progressive web-savvy fashion designers, 36Boutiques has created an innovative model for bringing the latest apparel to fashion-forward customers.
36Boutiques has built a model that solves the four biggest challenges in high-end fashion: carefully selected fashion items, great content, a premium shopping experience, and convenience – giving customers a compelling reason to shop online instead of opting to shop in a mall.
“A massive challenge in online retail is creating a sense of luxury. It requires high quality photography and on-trend fashion selection to excite online shoppers. It requires those little touches that make the experience feel special. Quality content and premium service costs a lot, which can kill the price advantage of shopping online. At the same time, unless shoppers can find something new and unique that they can only get online, they will opt for the familiar comfort of their local shopping centre,” says Gadija Gamieldien, CEO of 36Boutiques.
Originally a 36-hour Flash Sale site offering apparel from different designers every week, 36Boutiques underwent a ‘metamorphosis’. The site relooked its business model and based on feedback received from customers and the opportunities it identified in the online clothes shopping space in South Africa, a new version was launched. The new fashion destination resembles a combination of international shopping sites, Asos and Net-a-Porter.
“Six months ago, we went from an innovation platform to test the market, technology and business model to a full-blown pure retail player for MIH South Africa. We have been refining our strategy – but also building a powerful ecosystem of suppliers, partners and platforms,” explains Gamieldien. “We had to find ways to give our customers something special and unique online, offering better convenience when shopping for their fashion fix. We’ve created a South African first – a luxurious online shopping experience.”
It’s not just enough to have a beautiful website – there also need to be captivating items that are not available anywhere else. This is why 36Boutiques established Exclusives – select designers have ranges that can only be found on 36Boutiques.
“We are working closely with our South African designers to help them adapt to the new world of online fashion shopping. Globally this sector is growing incredibly fast and accelerating – it doubled globally over the past five years and will probably double again within another year or so. Designers must understand that this is where their future business will come from,” says Gamieldien.
Innovation in this space is key, and 36Boutiques is investing heavily in new technologies and systems. It is innovating fast in areas such as payment systems and loyalty programmes – currently online customers pay using their Credit Card, but EFT is currently in development.
“We have a wealth of experience to call on, with two of South Africa’s top e-commerce sites in our stable – Kalahari.com and PriceCheck.co.za. A significant factor in fashion shopping in SA is store cards that allow customers to buy on credit and pay later. We’d rather they find online shopping so affordable that they don’t need to go into debt – better for them, and better for our economy. We are working closely with our payment providers to introduce more payment options – but also to reward customers for buying online,” concludes Gamieldien.
Ideate is one of South Africa's biggest business blogs, with a team of authors all of whom have had entrepreneurial experience. Ideate is read by entrepreneurs thinking BIG. Follow us on Twitter here. View more articles by Staff Reporter.
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