Thai startup Pomelo pivots to fashion tech platform amid pandemic

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FILE PHOTO: A Pomelo store is seen in a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Chayut Setboonsarng

May 25, 2021

By Chayut Setboonsarng

BANGKOK (Reuters) – JD.com-backed fashion e-commerce startup Pomelo plans to boost revenue by offering its own technology in analytics and demand forecasting to other fashion brands in the region, its chief executive said on Tuesday, amid slowing offline sales.

The women’s fashion firm, which started as an online business in 2013, plans to launch its business-to-business (B2B) unit, Prism, next month to offer services like demand planning and logistics for other fashion and lifestyle brands, chief executive David Jou said in an interview.

The plan comes as physical store sales and traffic have dropped.

Store traffic in Thailand plummeted 71% in the first quarter of this year and about 20% in its other markets, he said, adding that e-commerce was strong.

Its B2B service has drawn brands like Levi’s as customers.

The startup has raised a total of $83 million from investors including Thailand’s largest retailer Central Group and competes with companies like Japan’s Fast Fashion Co Ltd.’s Uniqlo.

Retailers are accelerating digitisation due to the pandemic, creating demand for the service, he said.

Local brands, which already know their customers, can get support in product development, textile sourcing, and supply chain management, Jou said.

Pomelo would continue to sell its own apparel brand and is planning to add 44 more physical stores on top of its 25 existing locations.

The company is also experimenting with having customers try on clothes at home in a partnership with ride-hailer, Grab.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Ed Davies)





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