Mallzee: Marketing a Digital Business

3 October 2016

This week we are taking a look at EIE15, EIELondon15, and ScottEDGE Alumni: Mallzee, a digital business gaining a lot of traction lately. Their marketing-focused app was founded in 2013 by Cally Russell. Mallzee not only makes finding and buying clothes fast and easy, aka the “Tinder for Fashion,” but it also provides data insights for retailers into customer’s buying decisions.


Watch their EIE pitch here.


In 2015, Mallzee secured £2.5M investment raised in a funding round led by Royal Mail Group and investors including the Scottish investment bank and tech entrepreneurs. This has allows the company to scale its offering, and has secured a promotional link-up with tech giant Samsung. Mallzee has now become the UK’s top non-retailer shopping app, with more than half a million users and over 150 fashion brands, and their team has tripled in size this year.


I caught up with Mallzee’s digital marketing manager, Rachelle Garnham, at Spoon in Edinburgh to discuss Mallzee’s marketing strategy and we hope you garner insights into this new way of shopping, with top tips about significantly and successfully growing a user base.
Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 15.15.57


SILVIA, Digital Marketing Associate, Informatics Ventures interviewing Rachelle Garnham, Mallzee Ltd on 05/08/2016


“A couple of days before Christmas we were second in the iTunes shopping chart, the only shopping app that had been downloaded more than us was Amazon.” – Rachelle Granham


So where is Mallzee now?


Rachelle Granham: The fashion side and customer side of Mallzee is great, but now we’re more about what we can do with the app. Last summer, we received a substantial level of investment and we went from a company of just 10 people to now just under 30. The big investment is what catapulted us to next level. We’ve successfully relaunched the app, rebranded, added new features because we have built an app specifically for iOS and Android. A lot has changed: we’ve recently developed the other side of the business, the data platform, which allows us to offer our retailers insights on their products, from a marketing and merchandising perspective, which is unique. As a retailer will have to estimate how much to buy, Mallzee is a tool where a retailer can measure exactly the volume of people that are looking at specific products every day because of the swiping mechanism.


How do you make profit then?


The data platform is something you can invest in and buy as a retailer. We also make a profit from sales within the app, and we offer a listing option for the retailers. As we reach so many people, and because we have such an engaged database, retailers also pay us to actually be listed on Mallzee. I guess we’re like a form of media, but a lot more engagement.


What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?


From a marketing perspective, our biggest challenge has been scaling fast, as we’ve almost doubled our monthly user base. This is challenging because we’re trying to balance the protecting of the value to the users, making sure we get really good quality user base, whilst still doing things really fast. In start-ups things are very agile and you have to try things fast, with the risk of failing fast. We really wanted to keep the momentum going, so we had to be strategic about the process, and it ended up coming together well because we were focused on our end goal.


Tell me about relaunching your app?


Well, we started with Apple just because of the volume of people that was there, but we’re also building the android app. Both are popular apps, but with android it has slightly different features that you can take advantage of, that’s why you really need front end developers which focus solely on iOS or solely on Android.


“Recently, it’s been about introducing strategy and making sure that all activity we do feeds in with the business goals and aligns with the technology. – R. Garnham”


How do you get in a relationship with Apple?


It’s all about relationship building. At the moment we’re running an exclusive offer with apple, we’ve always tried to keep close to apple and understand apple’s development. We make sure to use the developments Apple brings forward in our app, such as providing Apple Pay as a feature quite quickly. With Apple, there’s a really good feedback loop, I mean, no one understands Apple like Apple, and they give us advice on how to take advantage of the software. It’s great to have contact with them, we probably get featured at least once a month, in categories like ‘Best New App’, or ‘Best For Shopping’.


What was your marketing strategy at the start and how has it developed over time?


At the start, we were trying everything to build the user base up to a point to have a viable product and give us that initial traction. Recently, it’s been about introducing strategy and making sure that all activity we do feeds in with the business goals and aligns with the technology. We always focus on the end goal, and are very diligent about understanding what actions to take that get us where we want. Our marketing team is set up for different functions such as acquisition, content, and retention. For example, retention is about keeping people signed up to the app, keeping them engaged, so like email marketing. Each team member owns the strategy in their area, and whatever you’re at you’re equally responsible. So it’s very strategy-focused, and we make sure all areas flow properly between the stages of the user’s life-cycle.


How is your market segmented?


Market segmentation is a really big part of Mallzee’s strategy, because we don’t necessarily have a target market as our product is for everyone. We have to be extremely deliberate about how we reach each segment of our market, where we segment by area and demographics such as age and gender.


How have you addressed your different target customers and through what channels?


Online, segmentation, and user targeting. As an App we track any action which means that we can tailor people’s experience. When serving an ad on Facebook, we treat the 16 year old differently that the 45+ year olds, so we basically have different marketing for each segment and treat their behaviour within the app differently, our emails are all different varying on age as well. We try to give our attention evenly to all channels and understand each part of the journey and where we can improve. We use social media as a tool to help feed into our email campaigns or to stay connected with our fans. Acquisition is very important to us, so getting downloads, which we use social media, and influencer marketing such as with bloggers and celebrity influencers to get that reach and presence on our user space. Because we’re a totally digital brand we build our own technology, it gets more difficult when you’re offline.


What offline marketing do you do?


We do a lot of partnerships which are quite traditional. We’re always in the press, but we don’t sort of actively do a lot of offline marketing. However, we’re launching our student ambassador programme to get students to help us with our marketing campaigns, and to tell us which events we should be part of!


What online marketing is most effective?


Influencer marketing has been really useful to us, which comes from relationships that we’ve built through partnerships. A more unusual channel that’s useful to our strategy is pushing notifications. This means that people who have asked to receive notifications from us receive direct messages through text, and that’s extremely powerful. We always want to serve something genuinely relevant to our customers. So push notifications focuses on what the user likes, specific to the individual, so it’s genuinely useful to them.


Any suggestions for future entrepreneurs needing to harness social media?


Make sure that you’re measuring things and that you’re understanding the impact of what you’re doing, this way if you fail, you know exactly why. We’re lucky that were able to do that without affecting our agility. There’s a misconception that strategic decisions based on analytics and measurements slow things down, and make people focus on the wrong things but actually it’s just a natural part of what you do. Just focus on what are you trying to achieve, what is your goal. It’s one of those things that seems so obvious but can be easy to forget.



Definitely things to think about! Often times, start-ups think of marketing as an after-thought, but it’s hugely important to be strategic as early as possible in reaching your customers.


Come back next time to take a look at Krotos Ltd to find out tips on building an executive team.


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By Silvia Gatti, Informatics Ventures

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