Meet the young Bahraini entrepreneur disrupting the way we shop online.
Introducing SEPT, the first fashion personalization platform that is defining fashion for the Gen-Z generation in MENA. Contributing editor, Saja Elmishri spoke to Yara AlDhaen, a qualified lawyer by profession and advocate for sustainable fashion by passion.
AlDhaen is the Founder of SEPT, a platform that is fundamentally changing the way consumers shop by using algorithms to match users’ style preferences every step of the shopping journey.
Below, we explain how AlDhaen explored this untapped opportunity in fashion and how she utilized technology to create an ultra personalized customer experience.
1. Tell us how you established SEPT and the idea behind it?
Honestly, it was all the scrolling trying to find a dress for ‘next week’s wedding!’ As much as I love fashion, I found the experience exhausting and time consuming. You end up sharing links on WhatsApp groups asking friends if this dress is “ME.”
I thought to myself, I love my Netflix and Spotify because they get “ME,” but when it came to fashion, as much as personal style is so personal – the experience was lacking. All of us were looking at the same screen even though we are different and unique. SEPT is about building a company from the ground up with HER in mind. We embrace the #comeasyouare approach.
2. How is SEPT personalizing the shopping experience for consumers online?
We really view ourselves as a tech company. We leverage AI, machine learning and data to deliver a super personalized experience to the SEPT girl. The usual experience is to display generic products, and the consumer is left endlessly scrolling and messaging friends with links to different products. It was an exhausting experience. Our motto at SEPT is “no more scrolls.”
3. What factors helped you decide the retailer partners that the users would be directed to once they complete their app registration?
SEPT is a completely personalized shopping experience; no two feeds are the same! The user takes a 30 second quiz similar to an Apple Music in which we get to learn more about the brands, cuts and fits that she likes. From there, we start personalizing her feed. Her homepage is a section called “Today for Me” in which we send her daily items just for her; she gets to swipe right “ME” or left “NOT ME” on items which will help optimize her feed. On her social feed, she gets to see what others around her are into and what SEPT is into (we put so much effort in scouting the gram for up-and comers). Once she clicks on the buy button, she will be redirected to our partner to complete her purchase. We partner with the world’s best brands and e-tailers to bring a really magical shopping experience to life.
4. How does SEPT help brands with leveraging consumer shopping behavior and insights?
We view SEPT as a platform that really puts the customer at the heat of everything we do. We help brands leverage our platform and technology to understand their customer in MENA and her preferences. The beauty of our model is that the brands have full control of their images, and can choose what to display on our platform.
5. Why do you think a similar venture hasn’t been created in the region yet when it comes to creating a personalized shopping experience based on a user’s taste and preferences?
From being part of the startup scene in the region, what I can see is that the sector is mostly male dominated so the focus and the opportunity that they chase has always something to do with fin-tech, logistics, etc. Also having the VC’s mostly being male, fashion is not an industry which rings top of their mind. So funding is extremely hard for fashion startups. My hope is that people stop looking at this industry as “frivolous.”
6. What’s in the future for SEPT? How will the format evolve with customer demand?
Oh goodness! I wish I could spell the beans. But we have so much in the works and we’re excited to execute on our roadmap. Stay tuned!
7. What is your advice for upcoming entrepreneurs or anyone creating a new app from scratch?
Put your customer at the heart of what you are trying to create and be gritty.
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