I follow the startup world very closely, as it keeps the maverick technology enthusiast alive in me — and never fails to dish out an interesting story. I can honestly say that I have found this to be the easiest way to remain informed and relevant in today’s fast-paced tech world. Perhaps it is also a selfish attempt to avoid becoming a “technosaur”.
Thus, it came as no surprise when I read about a European online fashion and lifestyle retail startup called Lesara that had increased their sales by 175% last year. Their product range has grown to more than 100,000 items, and they recently expanded to serve markets in Sweden, Denmark and Spain. All this with just 300 people on the payroll.
With this kind of growth so early on, I knew that this retailer was actually doing something technologically disruptive.
Founded in 2013, the company has tried to solve a problem that fashion retailers have long faced: how to bring products from the catwalks to the catalogue as quickly and as accurately as possible. Lesara’s approach uses cloud data analytics and cloud-based AI to make statistically-based decisions about what clothes it should produce and sell. It pulls data from various online sources, including e-retailers, search engines and social media to help it make real-time, informed business choices about which products they need to create.
“This analysis removes the guesswork about what will sell and which styles will flop on the shelves. We don’t just know which new styles are popular, we can also identify retro trends that are making comebacks, which styles are on the way out, and that helps us to precisely manage our production.”
What amazed me most about the story was not simply how they could turn a product from idea to market in just 10 days, but also how technology was envisioned and leveraged to manufacture a solution to this problem. As a tech enthusiast, I am thrilled whenever groups of individuals break out of the “business-as-usual” mindset of technology as just a cost reduction lever or an enabler.
It’s exciting to see entrepreneurs recognize the transformative role that technology can play, and use it as a driver to envision a new and novel way of solving a problem.
The moment we stop thinking about cloud technology as an effective way to move expenditures from CapEx to OpEx, we embrace the future. Instead, let’s recognize cloud’s potential to create products, manage inventory, understand customers better, and sell more and better products. One we start thinking that way, “retail nirvana” will be within our grasp.
A graduate from IIM Calcutta with 10 years’ experience in the industry, Subhajit Dutta is a...