Experience luxury ecommerce with BlinQ app
Founder and CEO
WFB Bureau: When did your journey start? When did you realise to capture the untapped market of luxury ecommerce?
Bob: After my previous exit, I was on the lookout for the next big thing. Having a background in analytics and Asia, I was keeping a keen eye on the megatrends which would lend itself to the next Big thing. I knew it had to do with E-Commerce, Millennials, Mobile, and SE Asia.
See the phenomenal growth of all of these factors narrowed my focus towards the BlinQ model, as it has the ingredients of all of the above. I added the AR (Augmented Reality) function to the front-end, and the automated logistics to support the back-end, as this provided an entire eco-system to the scale of what I wanted to do next. The luxury component also provided us with an edge in terms of catering to an untapped market in the region.
So, as much as I think it’s a rather obvious model, it took some time to fine-tune to thinking to have all of the above gel to form the BlinQ offering.
WFB Bureau: What is BlinQ actually? And how do you plan to revolutionise luxury ecommerce with BlinQ?
Bob: As mentioned above, BlinQ is an entire Luxury Fashion E-Commerce eco-system, allowing brands to ride on our technology and infrastructure to reach 600 million or so young and affluent SE Asian consumers. Luxury is a fast growing sector in the region, and we’re aiming to facilitate that gap by providing leading edge technology and infrastructure to luxury brands.
Being mobile focussed allows us to focus on all the possibilities and stickiness around millennials, mobile shopping, and AR functions, as both mobile and AR functionality starts to really disrupt how we interact with purchasing and engagement with brands.
On marketplace front, we are also catering to a shifting demand in how consumers acquire fashion, which is constantly evolving, hence why we’re also offering rental, curated, and pre-loved as an option.
On the back-end, we envisage utilising automated logistics to cater to the demand of accuracy, a real-time expectations of our consumers.
Dealing with numerous SKU’s calls for such technology for regional fulfilment, and a rather different focus when it comes to luxury.
WFB Bureau: Why did you specifically choose South East Asia to launch the platform?
Bob: SE Asia represent a pretty unique opportunity. The region has the most connected Social media, mobile and E-Commerce penetration in the world. The Online retail growth is growing at a staggering rate, however still only represents 5% of retail purchase. The upside is huge, however we need to provide the scale and regional coverage to make sense to onboard our clients.
WFB Bureau: Which all luxury brands are integrated into the app for customers?
Bob: We’re currently signing up some large deals to the regional catalogues, which represent a mixture of International brands, as well as up-and-coming regional brands. We see the need to provide the infrastructure to these smaller brands too, in order to reach a larger base.
WFB Bureau: What allows BlinQ to provide effective and satisfying fitting experiences to reduce returns?
Bob: We feel the AR virtual fitting room allows for our clients to really emulate how something would look and feel on them without the need for physically trying them on. The ability to also mix n match brands is a plus point, which leads to increased purchase propensity and decreased returns. Both factors a plus point for brands.
WFB Bureau: The app also features Rent and Subscription Box models. Please tell more about it.
Bob: In the US for example, we’re seeing a huge uptake in subscription models of fashion. Rent the runway for example has been very successful in this area, currently churning US $ 100 million of revenue per annum and having raised huge VC funding. We feel that whilst the operation model varies for ‘buy now’ vs ‘rental’ etc. we can leverage the full potential of our inventory and more by providing such options to our users. At the end of life of each product, we then either ‘flash sale’ them or add them to our ‘pre-loved’ categories.
As for the curated models, models such as Stitch Fix have also been very successful in terms of having professional curators provide options to users to supply them with curated outfits for different scenarios. This helps elevate the option of having to keep up with the latest trends, which a lot of our users tend to enjoy. It’s really a new mode of how users interact and engage with fashion, hence we need to remain ahead of the curve to fulfil the changing trends. We call this ‘new retail’ which will provide a huge ‘network effect’ to what we do.
WFB Bureau: At a time when social media platforms amplify fashion, how have you decided to use social media platforms to reach a larger number of people?
Bob: We will interact with all the Social Media platforms and in-app features to reach and engage with our consumers. New retail will be all about this.
WFB Bureau: With seed funding secured, what is your next step and future plans?
Bob: The eco-system described above is rather capital intensive, hence we will continue to fund-raise to expedite our growth, and focus on executing at scale. We have numerous parties we are already talking to, so we now need to ensure we can focus on executing well.