TECH TALK: The Future of Fashion
Anusha Bawany sits down with Zeeshan Ahmed of Pret á Pak to understand how the world of fashion is heading into the digital era
Tell us a little about yourself
and scope of work?
I am a business professional with over fifteen years of diverse experience, and retail fashion has been a constant fixation. I studied Disciplined Entrepreneurship and Mobile App. Experiences at Massachusettes Institute of Technology and my journey as an entrepreneur began with Benchmark Advance in 2004. Last year, I was one of the 100 Best Performing CEOs of Pakistan 2017 at the 4th CEO Summit Asia. My current scope of work revolves around developing online shopping platforms, through which we can create ‘ecosystem economics, where established fashion businesses and digital startups can work together for mutual benefit.
What is Pret à Pak and how is it different from other e-commerce marketplaces?
Pret à Pak is an online shopping platform exclusively designed for fashion brands and designer labels to showcase and sell their products to global customers. What sets it apart is its mobile app model and that it can launch full-featured mobile apps with their own brand name, in record time. We also focus on catering to Pakistani designers, providing users with a safe and enjoyable experience, and having numerous features, including integration with mobile commerce.
Where did the idea of Pret-a-Pak come from?
One of my courses ‘Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies’ at Harvard taught me how network effects, mobile technologies & entrepreneurial ecosystem transformed China from a poor agriculture economy to the world’s biggest ecommerce market. I have recognized a need for a platform that meets the needs of online retailers and shoppers in Pakistan.
Do you think Pakistani
audiences are ready for
How would you describe
this app to the average
Yes, especially now that the entire
world is shifting towards online
and mobile technologies. We will
have to work on promotion, but the
market is ready. Furthermore, I
think that collaboration between
local companies and institutions
might be what accelerate market
growth. In simple words, the app
is an online platform where you
can easily and efficiently browse,
discover, and purchase clothing
Do you think retail stores are a thing
of the past? What is the future of tech in
the fashion world?
No, I don’t. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to create huge value, but need to be digitalized. Social media and digital storefronts help increase revenue at offline outlets. Data is quickly becoming the new gold mine in the Fashion Industry and I believe in next 5 years, the most successful fashion retailers will be great technology companies powered by consumer analytics – generated online or offline. Additionally, fast-growing mobile commerce and cross-border commerce are top mega trends for the success of fashion businesses. I’m sure that we will see more technologies emerge, maybe similar to AR/VR.
Walk us through the app. What makes the process easy to use?
The process is actually very simple: you approach us with interest to launch your store, we will give you a few options, and a simple online template that you need to fill-in. After that, your store is set and integrated within a large shopping ecosystem! We will handle maintenance and help promote your store, you just need to handle your stocks and customers – a process that is enjoyable and hassle-free.
Tell us about the launch at London fashion week and exhibition at APPNA?
We were invited by our partners to present at these events and used the opportunity to connect with more clients. We are talking about some of the leading events in the industry – APPNA is the Association of more than 15,000 Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America.
People were quite impressed with our technology, and we managed to strike more potential partnerships that will help our brand grow and therein allow our merchants to increase their sales. Getting feedback from customers, designers, fashion models, and other industry leaders, highlighted their needs and motivated us to work harder.
What is required to add sustainability to the start-up economic scene in Pakistan, to ensure that Pakistan grows as a market?
This is a great question! I think that collaboration between local companies and institutions, geared toward supporting the development of local startups, might push the market forward. Successful companies could easily provide resources and mentorship to smaller companies, in order to scale innovation. It will give way to new investors, tech networks, and more platforms that can help industry faster growth.
What else do you have in store for
For last two years, Grow Online is building the set of economics for our natural allies for the ecosystem of the retail industry in order to get in to the next curve. If this mobile commerce business model works, it has to work for an entire industry including large enterprises, classic retailers and young fashion startups. We are working towards structuring not just the company but the ecosystem that help every single retailer to launch their online/mobile venture with their own brand and doesn’t need capital investment or acquiring technical resource. We are leading this industry into the future by expanding to more markets, focusing on more diverse offerings, with leading designers, and integrating new technology into ours. Make sure to follow Pret à Pak on social media to stay updated on our progress! The future of retail is personalized online experiences, powered by conventional retail.