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This Southeast Asia Start-up Wants to Build a Virtual Reality Shopping Mall

SAUCEink plans to use AI, data science, AR and VR technology

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 29 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you ask founder Sabrina Wang, SAUCEink is a lifestyle platform that helps customers discover and shop for the things they love, such as clothing and accessories, all via their online interactions.

Some might peg SAUCEink as a discovery platform, but its current incarnation is only a hint of what it may possibly become. “SAUCEink’s long-term vision is to create the world’s first virtual reality shopping mall experience using AI, data science, AR and VR,” says Wang, noting that SAUCEink already has 30,000 users and 800 merchants.

Wang’s vision for what form the virtual mall would take might be not too far from what most people would assume. After inputting their vital information, such as their body measurements and face, users would be able to use an avatar to go shopping in a completely virtual environment.

One of SAUCEink’s first steps toward its vision of a virtual mall is Style Box, which is customized through the user’s online behavior.

“We collect the data around a customer's preferences through searches, social sharing and tagging and create a Style Box based on their preferences with the help of our merchants. It’s really a complete lifestyle experience in a box and we’ve sourced local merchants in Singapore to provide the various products and services so we have the variety to deliver that promise,” Wang says.

Though SAUCEink has already gained a lot of traction, the company has turned to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter as a means of idea validation. Wang says that they believe creating the world’s first virtual shopping mall experience will take five years, and every step needs to be tested, validated, and executed in order to get there.

“Kickstarter is a good platform to achieve that. People who believe in the value of what you are proposing give hard cash to help you achieve that aim. It shows that people like the idea. They get to experience it for themselves and give us feedback all the while funding the project,” she says.

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Wang says they initially allocated slots for 500 Style Box subscribers but may now raise this figure due to the high demand. They are also getting a lot of interest from other stakeholders.

“From [merchants’] perspective, they’re really excited about it as it opens up a whole new way to engage with shoppers and influencers on our platform; [they] are looking forward to testing it, too. Over time we hope to help those brand owners better understand their customers and connect them while creating great experiences,” she says.

Style Box, of course, is just one part of SAUCEink’s larger goal of building a virtual mall, so Wang and her co-founders are busy with the product roadmap ahead.

“Our next objective is to complete our personalized shopping platform for users by finalizing our AI and data science infrastructure. We’re also planning to introduce a gamification element for content creators so that they can earn points and boost their income from the items they feature,” she says.

They also plan to raise $750,000 to fund expansion across Southeast Asia and develop their platform’s infrastructure with an eye toward creating the AR/VR prototype of their virtual shopping mall experience. They will work with their users and merchants to do the beta testing of this integrated virtual platform.

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