Recently, the online fashion retailer Zalora Indonesia turned 4. Started in 2012, the company now employs some 600 employees spread over many divisions, working tirelessly to provide the best online shopping experience they can with an aim to become the country’s leading fashion destination. Their hardworking and committed attitudes are indirectly the result of Anthony Fung’s guidance; he serves as the CEO of Zalora Indonesia.

When you meet Anthony Fung, it’s hard not to notice two things: his dedication towards his work and his knowledge about the online business. Born in Hong Kong, Anthony had a strong work ethic instilled in him by his mother at an early age. And that value system is what helped Anthony strive for excellence, be it in his education or his career.

After studying at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and, later on, Princeton University in the US, Anthony went to work for Merrill Lynch in its analyst, mergers and acquisitions group. Later on, he was hired by Rocket Internet, the German Internet company that founded the Zalora Group in Singapore, to handle its company in Taiwan before landing firmly in Indonesia: a decision he is very much happy with.

“In Taiwan, the e-commerce market started way back in 1999, so I wanted to come to Indonesia because of the novelty of the e-commerce market here. I find it interesting to get a chance to create something new,” says Anthony.

In just a matter of a few years, Anthony Fung has managed to consolidate Zalora Indonesia from diverse divisions by strengthening its delivery system, establishing a cash-on-delivery service, as well as adding more brands—more than 1,500, to be exact—on the site. When asked what success has taught him, Anthony divides it into two experiences: how to run an online retail company and how to manage one.

“The first experience taught me to know the customer’s interests and to understand local trends, while the second taught me how to keep a balance between both the stakeholders and the employees, as well as how to create a pleasant working environment for everyone,” said Anthony, who was promoted from MD of Zalora Indonesia to CEO last September.

With his demanding job, one wonders how the 30-year-old CEO dealt with the challenges that his meteoric rise to success must have thrown in his path.

“To build an online retail company in Indonesia was—and remains—very hard, because of the infrastructure and ecosystem here. For example, we had to build our own delivery fleet in many areas to overcome logistical problems. Other challenges would be if a supplier decides that they don’t want to sell in the marketplace. Then you have to hold their inventory in your own warehouse,” he says.

“But at the same time, the challenges can also be fun since you are involved in a creative process and adding value to society,” adds Anthony, who is also a classical music lover.

With the rise of e-commerce companies in Indonesia, Anthony predicts a wave of consolidations of smaller companies who don’t make enough profit in the future. So the natural next question is: how does one propel an e-commerce company into profit?

“You need to have a scale on your fixed costs and control your unit economics, such as making sure you’re not losing money over shipping costs. Once you control these two aspects, profitability will be a lot closer since you’re not losing money on either the fixed or variable costs.”

The future of Zalora Indonesia is very bright according to Anthony, who has already made six- and 12-month plans to stay ahead of the curve by improving the online customer experience and to control the company’s budget properly.

“The two main key points here are product offerings and customer experience. We plan to continue to offer new, high-quality fashion items at affordable prices to our customers as well as to perfect the customer experience to be more responsive and to create an enjoyable online shopping experience,” he says. “As to budgets, I always say ‘spend them accordingly’; don’t spend too much on marketing without providing a wide range of products.”

Being a 30-year-old CEO is no small accomplishment, but this self-confessed perfectionist says that he wished he had been even more aggressive during his younger years, “I feel I could have accomplished so much more because I know I could have done much more, but that’s life and there are no shortcuts.” A lesson worth pondering over.

(Photo by Zalora Indonesia)

Another E-Commerce Masterclass that focuses on online fashion shopping: E-Commerce Masterclass: Jason Lamuda, CEO of Berrybenka

Tags: Entrepreneur, Society, Indonesia, Business, Anthony Fung, E-Commerce, Zalora Indonesia