Kisura: A gorgeously beautiful ecommerce game changer – an interview with Linh Nguyen, the founder and the Managing Director of Kisura
Kisura in Swahili means something like “a gorgeously beautiful woman”. Apart from that, it is the name of Europe's first personalized clothing service for women, which has proved that combining fashion, high tech and human assistance into curated shopping equals success. In this interview with Linh Nguyen, the founder & MD at Kisura GmbH, you will learn how and why it was possible.
Paulina, E-commerce Capitals: I will start in a provocative way – we live in a world of thousands of big and small eshops. Clothes are basically cheap. There are thousands of sources of fashion inspirations such as blogs, magazines or, simply, Instagram. Why would anyone need a professional stylist then?
Linh Nguyen, Kisura GmbH: There are 2 use cases when it comes to fashion shopping: intentional shopping, where customers look for a specific product, brand, model. This can be most efficiently done online by using the filter mask or just Google to look for the best price. However, the majority is not specifically looking for something, but seeking inspiration. This is where online shops lose most of their traffic. Product recommendations based on purchasing behavior of other buyers, magazines and blogs are the most common tools used online to make the discovery process vibrant for customers. Yet, the most important factor to make guided inspiration online an efficient discovery process and satisfactory purchase for customers is missing online, since it does not consider the personal profile. High-resolution images of models in blogs and magazines are meant to create the desire to buy and, thus, trigger impulse purchases. Still, the most common return reason for online purchases is because the ordered items do not fit (in size or taste). By combining tech with human assistance Kisura is able to provide its customers with access to personally curated products and first class shopping experience. Above-average shopping baskets of EUR 180, which is 3 times higher than that of traditional fashion etailers, strongly confirm Kisura’s use case. Over 30% recurring customers placing 5 orders p.a. highlight customer satisfaction.
Kisura is Europe's first personalized clothing service for women, based in Berlin. You founded it in 2013 together with your friend Tanja Bogumil. Could you tell us a bit about the way that you both had to go to transform this idea into an ecommerce business?
I met my co-founder Tanja 7 years ago at university. We are both highly drawn by dynamic industries and driven by the desire to create new products that have the potential to sustainably change user behavior. After graduation I joined Corporate Finance Partners (CFP), the leading Mergers & Acquisition boutique specializing in tech and media deals. During my time at CFP I specialized on B2C businesses only, consulting leading European ecommerce players in their trade sale or financing process. My key learning was to understand customer lifetime value, which is basically the foundation for a clear path to growth and long-term profitability. Sales generated per order and customer loyalty are critical drivers. Tanja joined Misterspex, the leading online optician in Europe, in 2010 and has been with the company for 2 years. During this time, Tanja has learned how to grow a company from 0 to 1 and especially how to educate a market for innovative products. In 2010, ecommerce was just about to take off in Germany and Europe; consumers had to be educated about online shopping, particularly in the case of traditional products like correction lenses. For the two of us, stationary retail will not remain the main shopping channel. However, online shopping was missing service and personality. Our mission at Kisura is to offer customers the advantage of both worlds – online and offline. Curated shopping is all about redefining convenience – 24/7 availability is aided by personal customer care and relevance.
In one of interviews you have mentioned that you and your team are working hard to “build the next ecommerce game changer”. What is change that you want to make?
When Zalando started its business back in 2008/2009, no one imagined buying shoes online. Today, online shopping has become an essential industry. Even food and furniture are increasingly consumed online. Looking at the female fashion market in Germany for example, still ¾ of the annual sales is generated offline. The main reason mentioned by customers is trust and service. By digitalizing personal service aided by state-of-the-art tech we are able to serve the customer demands more efficiently. Our service can be seamlessly integrated into your everyday life through device independent communication tools: we are available in the web, mobile, email, whatsapp, telephone call, sms, (video) skype, chats.
You are one of the speakers at E-commerce Berlin Expo that is taking place on April 27th. The title of your talk is “Personalization and Relevance as main success factors of curated shopping”. What made you choose this specific topic and why you think it deserves all the time and research you're putting into preparing this talk?
Ecommerce was all about bringing products online and making them 24/7 available and accessible. Nevertheless, the diversity of products now available online has made it extremely hard for a customer to find the right and relevant things to buy. Great dissatisfaction, high return rates and low willingness to pay made it extremely difficult for etailers to grow profitably. By digitalizing human assistance, customers can discover personally relevant products more efficiently. Again, above-average shopping carts and customer loyalty strongly confirm the use case of curated shopping.
E-commerce Berlin Expo will be the meeting place of the big, the small and the aspiring future ecommerce players, so your audience will be quite diverse. Based on all the experiences that you have gained developing Kisura, is there anything that you would tell to someone who’s looking to get into the world of ecommerce – and will be sitting there, in Postbahnhof, on April 27th?
Yes, definitely. Specialized conferences are great platforms for networking and getting new impulses for your own business.
Linh Nguyen will speak to the audience of E-commerce Berlin Expo that is taking place on April 27th, 2016, in Postbahnhof, Berlin. The title of her talk is "Personalization and Relevance as main success factors of curated shopping".