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Business  15, Jul 2014

This startup adds social element to assist your retail therapy

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Singapore-based startup FaveChic curates fashion products from East Asian marketplaces for consumers in SEA; integrates social interaction elements into online shopping

Image Courtesy: FaveChic

Founded by serial entrepreneur John Wong, FaveChic is a shopping app with a difference. Along with curating fashion products and bridging the gap between East Asian marketplaces and consumers in Southeast Asia, it integrates social media, messaging and chat functions, allowing users to communicate via text or voice. Another feature is that the users can communally browse fashion products together from different locations.

Online stores continuously sprout up across the globe, offering similar products at different prices. FaveChic functions by aggregating deals from the marketplaces in China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, displaying them in the local currency including shipping fees. This simplifies the shopping experience for consumers. Wong explained, “Our single price includes shipping and through the economies of scale from shipment consolidation, you will find FaveChic affordable compared to buying directly from many foreign marketplaces.”

FaveChic leverages on the outreach available through social networks, integrating with Facebook to allow items purchased or items of interest to be shared. FaveChic makes shopping social by enabling simultaneous real-time product viewing with friends, to gather perspectives and generate a consensus prior to purchase.

The company currently has 30,000 listed products and there are plans to extend its catalogue further. Since soft launching in April 2014, it claims to have served over 2,000 shoppers, many of whom purchased over 10 items in a single order. Payment is also integrated, with prices available in local and international currencies (e.g. Malaysian Ringgit, Singapore Dollar and US Dollars), inclusive of shipping charges.

Also Read: This man’s app plans to open up the hidden secrets of Singapore

Challenges
One technical challenge the company faced in aggregating products from various merchants and marketplaces was identifying a pattern in different formats. The team had to develop a robust method to aggregate, translate and curate the different product offerings existing in mature marketplaces to capture the essential product information such as titles, images and the specifications such as size, colour etc.

It found that advertisements were often inserted in product listings for cross-promotion, so it developed a proprietary technology to identify and remove advertisements. Developing an interactive real-time communal shopping experience for its user community was also important, as a differentiator to other mobile commerce products.

Wong said, “Short sighted investors will see us as trying to out do Zalora or even Alibaba’s Taobao, but we are different. If you see us as just another e-commerce outfit spending on marketing dollars and competing on pricing, then it’s just like the metaphor Red oceans. Sad to say, some acclaimed local investors compare us and ask for traction before actually understanding FaveChic. FaveChic is creating the Blue oceans in pursuit of differentiation and innovation.”

Further plans
The team comprises Singaporeans, Indonesians and Malaysians, with the market focus also on these three places. FaveChic plans to expand to Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines over the next two years as its business escalates.

When asked about FaveChic’s potential exit strategy, Wong explained,”We will really evaluate the parties interested in FaveChic for a merger or acquisition. To us, as a team of established entrepreneurs, we are not looking for an exit for the sake of an exit, but one that is best for FaveChic, the passionate team behind it and the community.”

Also Read: Even after 9 years, Smaato sees itself as a startup

Shiwen Yap

Shiwen Yap

Shiwen is passionate about exploring science, technology and entrepreneurship ideas and is an avid advocate of open source technologies and methodologies.

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