ZALORA co-founder and CEO Paulo Campos. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF GENERATIONT.ASIA
Right from the get-go, in 2011, Zalora Philippines’ co-founder and CEO Paulo Campos knew that the country was ripe for e-commerce as a growing number of consumers were shifting from brick-and-mortar shops to discover the convenience and variety found in online stores.
Talk about digital transformation was pervasive, not only in big corporations but in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in lifestyle options as well. Social media platforms were booming,
work-from-home set-ups were common in select industries, cashless banking had been introduced and, in about three years, car-booking apps emerged. In other words, a whole new digital world was opening up for everyone.
And then Covid-19 took over the world last year and continues to spread. As businesses nose-dived during the lockdown that began in March, a lot of adaptability also progressed as people figured out ways to earn revenues and push business despite the drawbacks.
At Zalora, its core business model fit in the pandemic scenario. Online shopping was the new-normal form of retail therapy. The company led by Campos came prepared as it also built a community including collaborations with artists and groups like Maarte Fair, a yearly gathering of local artisans organized for a cause by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines (MFP).
“I think the company has really just accelerated a number of trends that we are already witnessing for years,” Campos said at his guesting with gallery owner and MFP president Albert Avellana late last year in Pairfect, a Daily Tribune Facebook Live show. Earning his MBA at Harvard Business School and graduating magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree from its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Campos worked as a management consultant for The Boston Consulting Group in Singapore and earlier, as special assistant to the president at Ayala Land.
Here’s an excerpt of that interview with Campos:
Daily Tribune (DT): We know you’ve been very busy since online shopping became popular during the pandemic.
Paulo Campos (PC): It’s always very busy. E-commerce has really become a new aspect of our daily life now so it kept us very busy as a company.
DT: Did you ever stop operations during the pandemic in terms of logistics, delivery and all?
PC: First time in our company’s history when we actually had to shut down our fulfillment center for three to four weeks. The Department of Trade and Industry during that time was only allowing us to fulfill essential items, which, at that time, did not include fashion or clothing. We actually put onboard a whole new range of products and categories including essential items and we were able to start operations again. Since May, there has been a dramatic increase in e-commerce and digital adoption.
DT: What essentials were added?
PC: We have an extensive category of masks, sanitizers and personal care items. We also recently entered the home and living categories so shoppers can also find decorative items which was a category we didn’t really have before the pandemic. And this is on top of daily essentials
— food and medicine products. So we have a full assortment now on top of our core fashion assortment for our customers to shop online with us.
DT: Is the direction that Zalora was looking into?
PC: Definitely. We were very privileged that we are one of the companies during the pandemic that is benefiting in terms of e-commerce adoptions and fusing social responsibility so people don’t have to go out. At the same time, we also support the entrepreneurs who are really the backbone of the economy recovering from the pandemic. The fact that you can do these safely at home or from your mobile phones specifically, means that we do our part to help people stay at home. We also opened up our platforms to raise donations. We’ve raised millions of pesos for a range of different NGO and partner causes.
DT: What can you tell us about the changes that you noticed during the pandemic and what direction do you think it will take for the company now?
PC: I think the company has really just accelerated a number of trends that we were already witnessing for years. The digital adaptation in our country existed even before the pandemic and if we look back on this period, this pandemic period is a time where a lot of these trends were accelerated and then catalyzed in a very strong way.
DT: Can you give us an idea how Zalora has grown over the years?
PC: We are very fortunate that the Philippines has loved Zalora over the years. We actually unified our warehouse and our office locations into one new location. Our new combined facilities house our
next-generation warehouse where we still hold stocks. We’ve increased capacity up to two million items that we can now carry in that warehouse. We started eight years ago with 2,000 items and it is great that we still work from home.
DT: What do you wish to do as soon as the pandemic is behind us.
PC: For me, it’s the company events that we have. We’ve transitioned now to digital parties, but now is still different and there is a need to catch up with people to feel the energy. In the meantime, there is no need to put anyone unnecessarily at risk. We have to do things productively at home.
DT: Any message for our local entrepreneurs and shoppers as well?
PC: It’s very important that we remain positive and that we don’t despair about the situation we find ourselves. It’s indeed been a long time now that we’ve been under the condition and we revitalize the economy through doing our part to support the return of life before the pandemic. To the entrepreneurs out there, if you have the inkling to go online, we will be very happy to have you but I am happy to say that e-co.
Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph