Zalora, Rocket Internet‘s pan-Asian fashion retail site, has launched an iOS app, as it seeks to capture the growing base of consumers in Asia who are using smartphones as their primary, and sometimes only, way of getting online.
The Zalora app was quietly released to the Apple App Store on the 17th of April before the wider announcement today, and was built by the company’s Singapore operations. It said last month it started building a regional software development center here to work on its Web platform and mobile apps, so it’s likely we’ll see more apps coming out for the store.
The iOS app allows you to browse and buy items on the store organized by brand or category, and rate favorites as well. Zalora says the app’s catalog is pulled from the store’s various collections across its inventory for different countries, so it sounds like you might be able to view more items in the app than on its country-specific sites.
Zalora is Singapore-based, and is barely a year old. It’s gone through an aggressive expansion in the region, and is in now eight markets in Asia: Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines. It’s most recent round of funding was $26 million in March led by German retail conglomerate Tengelmann, just six months after an undisclosed, double-digit million sum from JP Morgan.
Given its focus on Asia, it’s curious that Zalora decided to debut on the iPhone instead of Android phones, which are more popular in the region. According to a consumer study done in Southeast Asia by Ericsson, by the third quarter last year 31 percent of phones here were Android-based. The iPhone had about 19 percent of the overall handset market.
One country does buck that trend, however. Zalora’s headquarters of Singapore has a 46 percent adoption of iOS, and just 29 percent for Android. Singapore has a smartphone penetration of around 90 to 92 percent, depending on who you ask, so those numbers are generally higher than neighboring countries.
Zalora has also been diverting some resources to the mobile interface. This is its first native app, but it launched a mobile site in January.
We’ve reached out to Zalora for more details on its mobile strategy, and will update as we hear from it.