By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

SINGAPORE — E-commerce platform Lazada sees technologies such as the metaverse, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) helping improve the shopping experience of customers in Southeast Asia.   

Lazada Group Chief Technology Officer Howard Wang said in an interview at the company’ office in Singapore last week that the company is working to improve its platform by leveraging on technology. 

“The shopping experience will continuously evolve. We see the next-generation shopping experience maybe on AR, VR, and metaverse. It would take time to get there. I strongly believe in the metaverse, but it requires a lot of technology such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, 3D modelling, maybe also cryptocurrency. There are a lot of new technologies,” Mr. Wang said.

“Today, there are still some technical barriers. Definitely, we continuously work with the industry and Alibaba to try to push the boundaries. It will come when it is ready. We continuously move towards that direction,” he added. 

Mr. Wang said VR technology needs to have 3D modelling to render a product, which can be seen in the virtual world, and can improve the sopping experience. 

“Using VR, you can put on a dress and you can see whether it is a fit for you or not. Personally, I believe that should be the future,” he said.

“Maybe not too far from now that the next generation of shopping experience will come. But it will still take some time,” he added.

Lazada Group Chief Business Officer James Chang said in a separate interview that there are ongoing plans to bring these technologies to its customers in the Philippines, especially for beauty product shopping. 

Mr. Chang said that the Lazada Group recently launched a virtual try-on for consumers buying lipsticks, makeup, eye shadow, eyeliner, foundation, and blush.   

“Right now, I am working with the Lazada Philippines team in terms of (improving) the beauty experience. When we ask customers about what they are looking for, there are clear signs of why customers would purchase a product online and why they would buy offline. One of the fears was if this product would not fit them,” Mr. Chang said. 

“We are offering virtual try-on. Some of the shades for the makeup may be able to use AR to see how they look,” he added.

Lazada recently said that 57% of consumers in Southeast Asia are using e-commerce marketplaces to directly search for products they wish to buy, higher than social media (50%), Google search (40%), and super apps such as Grab (9%), citing its “Transforming Southeast Asia: From Discovery to Delivery” report. 

A part of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, Lazada is targeting to serve 300 million shoppers by 2030 and to have $100-million annual gross merchandise value.  The e-commerce platform is operating in six countries, specifically Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.