The online fashion retail site, 36Boutiques, originally launched as a 36-hour flash sale site offering apparel from different designers every week, has launched a new version, following feedback received from customers and the opportunities it identified in the online clothes shopping space in South Africa.
By combining e-commerce expertise, online publishing strength and a community of progressive web-savvy fashion designers, it 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 reason to shop online instead mall shopping.
"A 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.
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 pure retail player for MIH South Africa. We have been refining our strategy but also building a powerful ecosystem of suppliers, partners and platforms. We had to find ways to give our customers something special online, offering better convenience when shopping for their fashion fix."
It's not just enough to have a beautiful website; it also needs to have captivating items that are not available anywhere else. This is why the company established Exclusives with select designers that have ranges that can only be found on this site.
"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 the company is investing heavily in new technologies and systems. It is innovating 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 South Africa 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 and reward customers for buying online," concludes Gamieldien.
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