Fashion industry entrepreneur and disruptor Harry Markl has launched a new venture in London, the AI-driven browzzin app, which is set to disrupt fashion shopping by offering users an easier way to earn money through social commerce.
Browzzin allows users to upload and tag their fashion images to a brand or retailer (either to an exact match item or a similar item) and earn commission should their post lead to a sale. Even if images are untagged, the app allows consumers to search similar items to those pictured and buy them, and the user who uploaded the original image will still get their commission.
Speaking to The Industry at the launch of the app, Markl said: "We wanted to create an eco-system where everyone is incentivised. The users get commission, the brands get the sale and the consumers get what they want."
The app has launched with two million available items from 10,000 brands from designer through to contemporary fashion and high street stores. With some of the brands the relationship is direct, with others it is indirect, through third-party websites. Launch partners include ASOS, Zalando, Matchesfashion.com, Topshop and Coach, among others.
Markl is also managing director of private equity house L Catterton (formed through a partnership between Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault) in Singapore. In 2012 he founded and subsequently sold APAC-based multibrand etailer Zalora, hence he already had relationships with many of the brands he wanted to feature on Browzzin.
A second stage, due to launch in a few weeks, is an in-store app, which allows users to track down items to physical stores near to them. The ability to link the app to stores was a crucial one, according to Markl, and will help retailers to achieve greater stock sell-through. At present he estimates that around 20% of stock produced is never sold.
“The offline discovery function is increasing the inventory available to browzzin users more than ten-fold, as compared to pure online aggregation. Typically, popular items are sold out quickly across all online stores, while local bricks and mortar stores are still holding stock that is currently digitally not discoverable," he said.
The retailer will have a version of the app in-store and will get an alert when a customer near to the store sends a request to ask if an item is still in-stock in-store (the functionality is similar to Uber). The retailer will get a few minutes to respond to the request and, if the item is available, the shopper can reserve it and collect in-store within 48 hours.
The shopper will receive a confirmation to their profile that the item has been reserved for them and will receive a QR code, which they can use in-store to confirm the order is for them. Once they have tried the item on they can complete payment in-store.
Markl is joined in the venture by creative director Zean Vo, who had previously worked with Markl at Zalora. Vo said the new app will democratise the "influencer" market as it was open to people who simply loved fashion, and, no matter how many followers they had, they still had the potential to make money easily and create inspiring content. "We're not just interested in 'influencers'," she said. "This is for fashion lovers, not just fashion insiders."
The venture is being funded by Markl himself and by Ravi Thakran, who is group president of LVMH South & South East Asia and Australia/NZ and chairman & managing partner of L Catterton Asia. “browzzin launches at a defining point in retail history and seeks to address some of the pain points in fashion retail in particular,” Thakran said.
“The combination of the team’s track record, and their holistic approach to addressing some of the biggest challenges fashion businesses are experiencing today, lead me to become an investor in browzzin,” he added.
Markl is planning to roll the app out globally in the coming months but said he chose London for the launch due to its reputation as a global fashion hub. "I could have made it work in Singapore, but if I can make it work in the UK, I can make it work in Singapore, I can make it work in Germany, anywhere...," he said.