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Zalora Basics. Zalora Work. Zalora Active. Origin by Zalora. Zalora Occasion. Indian fashion e-commerce site Myntra recently added 6,000+ clothing items to its platform from the Southeast Asian player Zalora, thanks to a partnership between the two.

But why is the decade-old Rocket Internet company partnering up with Flipkart-owned Myntra at all? Due to the right associations. But let’s back up a little.

Zalora’s debut in India is the latest in a long line of countries it’s present in—Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, and Taiwan. Run by Frankfurt-listed Global Fashion Group (GFG)—which is also parent to fashion e-tailers Dafiti, Lamoda, and Iconic in different parts of the world—there’s no doubt that Zalora has made its mark in Southeast Asia. The company even managed to narrow its 2020 pandemic losses of US$7.2 million to US$5.37 million in 2021. 

That said, of GFG’s four fashion players, Zalora is one of the two loss-making ones.

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And Myntra—the lone surviving twin of Flipkart’s Myntra-Jabong duo—could be a way into a market that can help it turn that around. India could be that much-needed gateway in Zalora’s path to profitability.

Jabong >> Rocket Internet >> Zalora

Jabong, interestingly, was also a Rocket Internet experiment owned by GFG and sold off to Flipkart via Myntra for just US$70 million in cash—in a fire sale in 2016. It was shut down in 2020, with its portal redirected to its once-competition Myntra.

Though Zalora is no stranger to expansions, it has also lost a few geographies along the way. The company had to sell off its Vietnam and Thailand units in 2016 for a relatively paltry US$10 million. And in 2017, it partially withdrew from the Philippines, after it sold 49% of its stake to conglomerate Ayala Group.

And India is a rather competitive market for the sector, one where fashion e-commerce portal Nykaa—founded the same year as Zalora in 2012—made its mark with a celebrated IPO in November 2021. Nykaa, which has been profitable, saw its valuation hit ~US$13 billion on its public debut.

“It is hard to achieve scale because fashion in India is also quite competitive—and there are many brands listed on Myntra,” said Vion Zhi Voon Yau, Head of Insights at Singapore-headquartered venture outfit Momentum Works, over email to The Ken. “Zalora will need to build its brand value from scratch, and they will probably need to build their own supply chain given the history of restricting cross-border e-commerce into India.”

After all, leading e-commerce company Shopee from Singapore’s tech giant Sea Group left India within six months of being in the country citing “global market uncertainties”.

AUTHOR

Rachel Chitra

Rachel covers the startup ecosystem and hopes to delve deeper into why Southeast Asia is the next exciting emerging economy. She worked previously for Forbes as its Asia correspondent.

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