With the advent of online shopping and worldwide delivery, we have access to a whole world of exciting fashion trends and savings. However browsing online rarely gives the same comfort of trying on clothes in a physical store. Watch this video of bargain hunters receiving clothes that were far from what they expected.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Rohit from Pixibo to find out about how his company is improving the online shopping experience for clothes, by providing the same comforts offered by a personal shopper.
Pixibo is the world’s first AI powered personal shopper that delivers style and fit advice in real time. Customers will no longer need to browse through thousands of dresses to find the perfect one as Pixibo’s deep analytics is able to make bespoke fashion suggestions based on the unique preferences of the customer. Sizing is also a non-decision with Pixibo’s clever automatic size recommendations, which enables customers to shop online without feeling uncertainty around size and fit, thus turning more browsers into buyers.
Headquartered in Singapore, Pixibo has grown to serve Toronto, Chennai and Amsterdam, boasting partnerships with the following organisations.
Trends in the region
Rohit sees that retail is moving online rapidly. In 2016, e-commerce accounted for 8.7% of global retail sales and by 2021, is expected to increase to 15.5%. (Statista, 2018). The e-commerce scene in South East Asia in particular is heating up as Chinese and Western tech giants are lured into the region by the promise of fast growth. In 2017, Amazon officially launched in Singapore and Alibaba pumped in a billion dollars to increase its stake in Lazada to 83% in addition to buying Tokopedia, an Indonesian ecommerce group (FT, 2017). Currently the online economy represents 1.3% of the regional GDP and is expected to account for 6% by 2025 according to a report by Temasek Holdings and Google (Techinasia, 2017). Additionally e-commerce sales in South East Asia is expected to grow at 32% CAGR from $5.5 billion in 2015 to $88 billion in 2025 to make up around 6% of total retail sales (Business Insider, 2017).
Riding on the trends
While e-commerce is growing rapidly, Rohit has observed that a major hindrance for online shoppers and a challenge for fashion retailers, is the inability to try on a piece of clothing. In addition to being a poor experience for online shoppers, the inability to try drives up the cost for retailers due to rampant returning of online purchases. In 2016, 30% of UK online shoppers deliberately over-purchased to subsequently return unwanted items and 47% said that they would not make a purchase if they had to pay the cost of returning their purchases (Barclaycard, 2016). Mirroring the behaviour of UK online shoppers, a 2015 report from the National Retail Federation in the US, found that almost 15-30% of online purchases were returned as compared to 8% for all US merchandise sales. Ordering the same item in multiple sizes and even colours was one of the main reasons for the high return rate. (Chicagotribune, 2016). To solve this, Pixibo is enabling customers to shop smart with the assurance that the fashion pieces recommended to them have been selected based on their unique preferences and body dimensions by the most advanced technologies available. This will eliminate the need to order multiple pieces to try on, whilst saving retailers the headache of dealing with frequent returns.
Rohit shared that working with SPRING Singapore to build up Pixibo has been a positive experience. The grant application process was simple albeit requiring some amount of patience.
JTC has also been supportive of the company by offering subsidised rental of an office space at the JTC Launch Pad @One-North.
With the announcement of the Retail Industry Transformation Map announced by Mr S Iswaran Minister for Trade & Industry (Industry) in 2016, companies like Pixibo can look forward to more support from the government. For example IMDA’s Enhanced iSPRINT can support up to 80% of project costs (capped at $1 million per SME) for ICT solutions that can potentially transform a sector. (SPRING, 2016)
On expanding overseas, Rohit shared that Pixibo will be able to benefit from the SPRING model of funding but beyond financial assistance, would require connections. In this regard, companies can approach IE Singapore for connections with overseas partners. For example Anurag Avula, CEO of Shopmatic shared that IE has been helpful in their overseas expansion efforts to India by connecting them with local governments and firms which has made Shopmatic more competitive and able to offer more to customers. (IEsingapore, 2017)
Call to Singaporean companies
Today we have access to a multitude of services at the push of a button; a cab can arrive at your location, food can be delivered to your office unit and mail can be sent to your doorstep. Still there are many avenues where technology is still underutilised and Singaporean companies need to identify market gaps to fill with technology, just as how Pixibo is utilising deep technologies to transform fashion retail to be much more intuitive, personable and delightful.
Barclaycard. (2016). Emergence of ‘serial returners’ – online shoppers who habitually over order and take advantage of free returns – hinders growth of UK businesses. [online] Available at: https://www.home.barclaycard/media-centre/press-releases/emergence-of-serial-returners-hinders-growth-of-UK-businesses.html [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
Chicagotribune. (2016). Online shopping makes it easier for consumers, but returns are still a hassle. [online] Available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-retail-returns-1228-biz-20161227-story.html [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
FT. (2017). Chinese and western tech giants battle for Southeast Asia. [online] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/e8654faa-6ac3-11e7-b9c7-15af748b60d0 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
Businessinsider. (2017). Southeast Asia’s set for explosive e-commerce growth. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/southeast-asias-set-for-explosive-e-commerce-growth-2017-5/?IR=T [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
IEsingapore. (2017). Shopmatic – Venture Overseas – International Enterprise Singapore. [online] Available at: https://www.iesingapore.gov.sg/Venture-Overseas/SgGoesGlobal/Shopmatic [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
SPRING. (2016). Annex: Initiatives under the Retail ITM. [online] Available at: https://www.spring.gov.sg/NewsEvents/PR/Documents/2016Sep15_Annex_Initiatives%20under%20the%20Retail%20ITM.pdf [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
Statista. (2018). Global e-commerce share of retail sales 2021 | Statistic. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/534123/e-commerce-share-of-retail-sales-worldwide/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].
Techinasia. (2017). Google: Southeast Asia’s online economy is growing faster than we predicted. [online] Available at: https://www.techinasia.com/google-temasek-internet-economy-2017 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].