One size fits all – not any more!! Fashion startups are running pilot projects, gathering information from hundreds of thousands of users and learning from user data. They are now recommending clothing based on one’s body type and style preference.
Uniqueness or how different you are from others is the key to survive in the choppy waters of Indian ecommerce, which have already gobbled up a few fashion etailers in the past 2 years and unsettled a few big ones too, including Jabong.
What doesn’t work:
Many of the failed fashion startups were lacking profitable business model and had high-cost structure. Also, the segment was and is still cluttered with me-too players which leads to hyper-competitive pricing and necessitates constant innovation to stay ahead. On top of all this, high percentage of return of apparel by consumers adds to the cost of etailer and customers can actually be very fickle and fussy.
The opportunity to build an online fashion brand is huge so in spite of the headwinds faced by a few online fashion etailers; investors continue to back and fund startups in the online fashion segment in India. Reasons: it has one of the highest margins among ecommerce segments; India has one of the most under-penetrated online fashion markets in the world. Besides this, deeper smartphone penetration is only going to help the online players. Then there are what they call “second-mover” advantages for new players. Consumers have already got a hang of buying fashion products online; cash-on-delivery and free returns have boosted buyers’ confidence.
A bunch of existing and new startups have in the past or recently received funding from angel investors. These investors also believe that a huge market like India can not be controlled by just one or two brands and so they are having their options spread out.
Among the recently funded ones are: Roposo, fashion social network has raised $21 million, last round was in April this year; 6degree, a fashion talent and tech startup has raised $200,000 in June this year; Voonik, a fashion shopping app has raised $27 million with $20 million of it in June alone this year.
For the record: fashion tech segment has received $162.24 million funding between October 2015 and July 2016.
So initially may be the script went wrong for some early startups but the fact is that India’s online fashion story is intact and here to stay.
Startup Focus: Pretr, an omnichannel fashion marketplace; co-founded by Bhavik Jhaveri. Bootstrapped; claims to have over 100 top brands, 4 large format stores.
Event Focus: Print Expo Chennai 2016 to open on August 12 through August 16 at the Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai, India.
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