22 June 2017

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Fashion Fever Goes High!

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There are enough people for whom prices don’t matter

As online e-commerce segment is hotting up in India, many would doubt about the feasibility of new lifestyle portals. There are multitudes of portals catering to diverse needs. But Arun Sirdeshmukh founder and CEO of Fashionara.com, bets to become a premium online fashion retailer.

It is tough to start in the middle of a competition scenario. But for Arun who had successfully set up new businesses for established corporate houses, it was not. Arun was the former CEO of Reliance Trends. He has also helped in setting up successful start-ups like Madura Garments and IBM Education in his previous stints.

Being Different
Fashionara.com was founded by Arun Sirdeshmukh and Darpan Munjal, an international e-commerce expert in 2012. It offers premium merchandise in the space of fashion and lifestyle and is a departure from the browse-choose-pay model of online shopping.  Their user friendly website claims unique visual experience with options of watching video catalogues, look-books with multiple apparel comparison and curated apparel functionalities that are present only in online retailers like Amazon.

In terms of express shipping options and return policy too they boasts that they stand apart. They offer within 24 hours delivery in selected cities and their return policy is that “the customer can just send sms and we call up the customer to take the details” says Arun. “We are a version 2.0 according to some customers as the whole experience is quite different” says Arun.

They strives to be a reference point for online customers and believes that they are rightly positioned for a great shopping experience.

The E-commerce Scenario
According to official reports, “India’s penetration in internet is the 3rd largest in the world”. We are a broadband poor country which may change soon with 4G. This is also an inflection point, meaning the graph which is currently flat for the number of users may suddenly explode.

Arun believes that there is a larger market for original price merchandise because their discounted sales are just 25% of the total sales. “There are enough people for whom prices don’t matter. In my view, even though a large section of online users under 21 are internet dependent and have a greater propensity to shop, our customers are the slightly evolved ones in the age group of 25-35”.

Being associated with many start-ups in his over a decade’s experience, he sees the transformation now. “When I started with Madura Garments, competition was less, communication overload wasn’t there” says Arun. In that sense, it was then easy to connect with customers. But he sees that communication level is twice now. “However, most things are the same; you have to do a lot of written documentation instead of verbal communication” he continues.

Money Matters
The company received funding from two large VC firms - Helion Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners (California based). “The conditions were right and e-commerce was growing. Clothing was considered a promising business” comments Arun on this. They were very clear of what they wanted to do and their team was an ideal mix of people. “Our first round of funding was meant for 12-18 months. The next round of funding would be after 6-8 months” he continues.

Marketing
Fashionara is integrated with social networking very well. “E-commerce companies stand to lose a lot if they do not leverage the power of social media” says Arun. They are an active website having 3.5 lakh plus likes on facebook. They also operate on facebook with the option of commenting on product page. They also plan to include various user engagement initiatives including blogs.

The company looks forward to provide unique site experience through technology. They are also in the process of adding new brands and categories to their portfolio. International brands like Calvin Klein and Vera Moda have already chosen Fashionara to retail their products online.

 

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