Launched in Thailand in 2014, Pomelo has always had a bigger vision for its fast fashion eCommerce shop as a global brand bringing value to fashion forward consumers, wherever they may happen to be buying.
“The whole way people experience fashion has changed,” CEO David Jou noted in an interview. “They want international branded fashion, [and] with Instagram and Snapchat, trends are no longer local. I would say they are global. In the past, if you lived in New York, you might know the trends first, but today you log into Instagram and follow an influencer. If she posts an outfit of the day, that’s the trend, and millions of people will see that photo.”
Millions of people, he noted — from Tulsa to Tibet, given how connected the world is these days — who are all united by a search for what’s next in forward-looking fashion.
Pomelo believes that it is poised to capture those eyeballs by creating a space where anyone, anywhere can be on trend — or even ahead of it.
“We are still building the first global fast fashion brand for a digital world always on-trend and affordable for all. In order to do that, we need to continue to deliver the best products and customer experience,” Vice President of Retail and PR, Salisa Landy, noted.
Pomelo’s global construction effort got a big boost this week following a $19 million investment round co-lead by Alibaba rival JD.com and Indonesia’s Provident Capital. It’s the biggest Series B round any Thai startup has ever been part of, bringing Pomelo’s total fundraising to $31 million.
The new funds, according to CEO David Jou, will go toward tripling Pomelo’s product line and “doubling down” on Indonesia, Pomelo’s newest market. After launching in Thailand, Pomelo quickly jumped to Singapore, and from there spread into Indonesia.
Indonesia is the planet’s fourth most populated country, with 260 million citizens. The JD.com partnership makes sense in the context of Pomelo’s expansion plans for Southeast Asia’s largest economy, as JD.com has been strategically investing in the country for the last few years.
Jou also noted that Pomelo is “researching” possibilities in China, where JD.com is headquartered. The partnership may also have salutary effects in Pomelo’s home market of Thailand, where JD.com recently announced a FinTech and eCommerce joint venture worth $500 billion.
According to Jou, “eCommerce is clearly approaching a tipping point in Southeast Asia, and we’re lucky to be one of the leaders in the fast-growing fashion vertical.”
But the bigger vision is to be truly global, to function as a retail option for the fashion-conscious outside Southeast Asia in the not-too-distant future. Some day soon, Pomelo might be looking to be a player in the U.S. and European markets.
For now, the company remains focused on Southeast Asia, securing dominance in a field that has become increasingly competitive, particularly as massive players like Alibaba and JD.com have been injecting large sums of investment cash to expand their own corporate footprint in the region.
Pomelo believes that by keeping its eye on retail trends, it will have a competitive and flexible offering to offer the ever-changing whims of its fashion-forward consumers. Which has meant that, as of late, Pomelo has also been a brand that finds itself experimenting with new modes of reaching customers.
In Thailand, for example, the brand is trying out offline commerce.
“‘Let’s not just do [an] in-store collection; let’s turn it into a better experience,’ we told ourselves,” Jou recounted of the firm’s choice to expand past eCommerce. Consumers are still ordering with the brand online, he said, but they’re also getting the chance to interact with items in person before they make their final purchase.
“Everyone [in Southeast Asia] still spends their leisure time in malls, but the inherent issue with stores is that you’re restricted to the inventory that fits that store. We’re allowing people to order anything from our web store, and it will be waiting for them in a dressing room at a scheduled time. Plus, we take all payment info ahead of time so they simply keep what they want and walk out,” he explained.