How Zalora’s omnichannel tie-up made them pandemic-ready

Image courtesy of Tamanna Rumee

Even before the start of the pandemic, online fashion retailer Zalora observed that their customer experience could be better. Beset by the limitations around their customer experience (CX) systems and software, their teams could not make the most out of their customer information because of the resulting data silos.

As such, this led to poor agent experiences, such as redundancy, where parallel work was being done by multiple agents. This also meant slower communication with Zalora’s customers, which in an increasingly digital retail landscape translated to lost sales.

In 2019, Zalora decided to partner with software-as-a-service provider Freshworks to solve their CX issues. Frontier Enterprise got in touch with Kannan Rajaratnam, Director of Payments at Zalora, and Pradeep Rathinam, Chief Customer Officer at Freshworks, to drill down on their omnichannel tie-up, specifically how Zalora leveraged Freshworks’ Freshdesk Omnichannel platform.

“Freshworks was initially adopted as a key customer support tool. Since then, we have noticed that some of our other departments have taken interest in Freshworks’ solutions as well. The most surprising perhaps would be when Zalora’s shared finance team onboarded Freshworks. This allowed us to have a seamless integration with their platforms, in relation to customer refunds and other monetary requests. This, of course, greatly reduced our team’s ‘out-of-platform’ interactions and has been proven to increase efficiency,” said Rajaratnam. 

Deploying Freshdesk over at Zalora was not without challenges, though, shared Rathinam.

“The biggest challenge Freshworks faced when deploying omnichannel for Zalora was ensuring data silos were eliminated. Multiple teams were involved and not every team could quickly transition over to Freshworks right away,” he said.

“For example, if the customer engagement/support team needed to resolve a customer issue, the payments team under finance had to jump onboard, so they could avoid jumping to a completely different portal. But with Freshworks quickly being relatable within Zalora, more teams came onboard,” Rathinam added.

No looking back

Kannan Rajaratnam, Director of Payments at Zalora. Image courtesy of Zalora.

In 2020, the COVID-19 lockdowns forced people indoors, with only essential services allowed to operate in-store. Hence, usage of e-commerce platforms skyrocketed, as everybody relied on them to buy food, groceries, medicine, and even apparel.

For an e-retailer like Zalora, this meant stiff competition, because everybody was now selling similar products on digital platforms. Thankfully, they made the necessary preparations beforehand.

“Our collaboration with Freshworks in 2019 was very timely, as we were soon hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about the lockdowns and other restrictions. The features provided by Freshworks allowed us to manage the additional volume due to the digital shift,” Rajaratnam noted.

Zalora then witnessed their sales improve, since the deployment of Freshdesk Omnichannel.

“Since switching to Freshdesk, we have seen a significant reduction in abandoned carts, and we found that 75% of our customers become repeat shoppers. Prioritising chat support on instant messaging and social media helped increase loyalty with our ‘digital native’ customers,” said Rajaratnam.

It was like hitting two birds with one stone, as Zalora also saw significant employee satisfaction with their refreshed omnichannel strategy.

“Before the Freshworks implementation, our operations were siloed and fragmented, leading to poor context and incorrect updates that eventually led to poor employee satisfaction. Since the deployment, we see improvements in key metrics like average handle time and tickets per agent. Our customer satisfaction growth rates are 5% quarter-on-quarter, and we have been able to use the significant cost savings achieved to improve our employee experience,” Rajaratnam shared.

With the success of this omnichannel strategy, it seems there’s no looking back for Zalora, amid a retail landscape that is constantly evolving. But how exactly did Zalora utilise Freshworks’ platform to make their operations more agile?

“Using Freshdesk Omnichannel, Zalora was able to streamline customer support activity from instant messaging to social media into one platform. Before Freshworks, Zalora was using multiple systems and applications that didn’t give customer-facing agents a complete view of the customer. With a unified view of customer interactions and transaction histories across digital channels, agents can now engage in more personalised conversations and increase customer retention,” said Rajaratnam.

Eyes on the horizon

Pradeep Rathinam, Chief Customer Officer at Freshworks. Image courtesy of Freshworks.

As shopping habits have undergone a seismic shift during the pandemic, with more and more people glued to their smartphones, what’s next for Zalora?

The e-retailer, which started operations in 2012, remarked that when it comes to IT infrastructure, it must be in the service of raising employee productivity, as well as customer engagement and satisfaction.

“Zalora continues to explore with technologies like chatbot and voice-to-text technology to provide ease of convenience for customers. With these features, issues are resolved more promptly and accurately,” said Rajaratnam.

“The main focus would be to strengthen our omnichannel shopping experience by leveraging Freshworks’ AI capabilities to utilise insights on a granular level. We would also like to create a hyper-personalised, customer-oriented experience across our platforms,” he added.

Meanwhile, Freshworks has set its sights on empowering enterprises to create and customise solutions based on their needs.

“With Freshworks Neo, the modular platform of Freshworks, the developer community can build enterprise apps that change the way business applications work with each other. This helps businesses customise the experiences based on their requirements, and unify their products under one roof, thus elevating the employee experience of business users,” Rathinam concluded.