Next-gen e-commerce was singled out by Mintel as one of its top trends for 2018.
Jamila Robertson launched Slapp, an online retailer and tool ‘for beauty enthusiasts and novices’, in mid-2016. The interactive, dynamic retail platform may offer a template for companies looking to tap into the potential of digital.
Here, Robertson talks cracking the European market, plans for expansion into Africa and the US, and upcoming innovations for the consumer experience.
What is the defining idea behind your platform?
The defining ethos behind Slapp is inclusivity in the beauty industry.
We want every one of our customers to feel included and catered for, no matter, their budget, skin tone or location.
With the Slapp app, our users simply take a selfie, to be matched to their correct shade across a number of brands.
We want to encourage our users to experiment and try new brands that they wouldn't have otherwise considered, or think were catering to them.
We celebrate the brands that celebrate everybody. At Slapp Shop, our customers can find even more under-the-radar quality brands, outside of complexion cosmetics.
Most exciting trends you’re seeing in the industry for digital retail?
Rethinking customer service has to be the biggest trend in digital retail.
We are constantly rethinking how we can give our customers the best service and speak to them on the platforms they are on.
Obviously this year this has really started to gather pace. We've seen brands like Pat McGrath Labs selling on Spotify, others reaching their customers on WhatsApp, and we personally have a lot of contact with our shoppers on Facebook Messenger.
Personalisation is still a huge trend in retail, but in digital retail, I would say that this will be the big trend next year.
Utilising AI (artificial intelligence) to personalise everything from the homepage, to the products that customers are initially presented is a key shift we can expect.
I also think the crossover between offline and online will increase, and we will definitely see those lines blur further through 2018.
Are you expecting any key challenges or opportunities in the coming period? (the next 1 - 3 years)
Over the next few years, we will be developing our presence in the home and global markets.
After we have cracked the EU and UK, we will be looking to the US and Africa as top priorities.
We will be merging our e-commerce store and App, to personalise the customer experience and look to move more brands in-house.
We will also be introducing lots of pioneering app updates, influenced by video and AI. And have a super exciting launch plan for next year, something we think is an advancement of the much-copied subscription model.
By year three, we expect to have successfully launched our own cosmetics line, so this is really only the beginning for Slapp.
Going back to setting up the company: can you explain any major challenges/hurdles you had to overcome?
Oh gosh, there are so many! One of the biggest challenges I faced was in R&D.
As a non-tech founder, it's extremely challenging to find quality developers that are reliable and who have the stamina to see a project through. The hunt continues!
Can you describe a major high point in your story so far?
We've had so many, and considering that we have been in existence for just over a year, it's crazy what we have achieved.
Our award nominations and wins have been huge high points. Officially launching was also such a great moment.
Seeing my illustrations come to life has been a huge high and knowing that the app is working and really helping customers, has been unbelievably rewarding.
The fantastic press has also been great. We had great coverage from Elle and the Daily Mail within three days of each other, and it was such a fantastic moment.
What to you is the standout product on Slapp?
I would say that the app in itself is our standout product. It is such a unique proposition, with so much room for growth.
There are so many great updates we have planned for next year, which will just take the app to another level. No-one out there is doing what we do - and our users love it, so the app would definitely have to be our standout.
Quickfire facts & figures
Launch date: September 2016
Products: Hundreds, from a range of brands.
Retail channels: e-commerce store Slapp Shop; Facebook Shop and the Slapp app.