By the time you are done reading this article, a few people would have completed several E-commerce transactions. A few clicks here and there, and they’ll be set to receive their parcel in a day or two. It even spares people from going out, leaving the comfort of their room and scouting for the product. Indians have shifted towards the convenience of online payments for day-to-day transactions. Over the years, the growth of E-commerce has been fostered and it is transformed into a multibillion-dollar industry.
Over the last two years, Chinese companies such as Club Factory and Shein had made deep inroads into India's fast-growing digital content-guzzling populace, often outpacing local counterparts in the process. The belief that the global apps would be used by Indian users has, in the past, dried up resources for building these products locally.
The main reason behind the popularity of Shein and Club Factory was steep discounting, extremely convenient to use, and ever-changing and futuristic trends. India has never been in a better place to be recognized as one of the most attractive markets to invest in, given its size, growth in digitization, and democratic structures. This presents a unique opportunity to reevaluate the lexicon of fashion and to evolve Indian marketplaces.
Presently customers are shifting from the “survival mode'' to adjusting to the new reality of the post-COVID-19 world. Customers are avoiding stepping out unless it's very critical. Mitigating the risks that small businesses are facing because there is a reduced footfall in the local offline traffic.
The broader ecosystem of connectivity that has led to the emergence of the must-have Internet economy also has other components ranging from the tremendous smartphone penetration to social media engagement even in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities as now people are more than active on social media.
Also, it is strongly believed that with the introduction of 5G, the fifth generation of mobile network technology the global eCommerce would increase to $4.8 billion. Hence, the latest development has become the best opportunity to create a fashion marketplace, apart from tier-1 they should go deeper into tier-2 and tier-3 towns and cities, monetize their offerings and establish themselves as leaders in a market dominated by mobile users hungry for curated and value for money fashion.
At a time when people are refraining to buy from brick-and-mortar stores, it is important to look at online retail as an extension of regular commerce. The market potential for online retail is now too big to be ignored. Roti, Kapda, Makan will always be a part of the basic and essential needs of a human being. Food can be made at home, property transactions dipping to near-zero and the sector is looking at challenging times ahead. However, clothes are vital to our most basic need for warmth and protection and people won’t start stitching clothes at home.
This ban gives a unique opportunity to Indian technology entrepreneurs to build and own some of the most highly used Indian Fashion Platforms. The fashion category is expected to overtake electronics. But strangely India lacks a good fashion marketplace which can compete in the market.
There is, therefore, a huge opportunity to remake the first generation of Internet marketplaces (across industries) and make them more responsive. In particular, the demands of the smartphones would place greater emphasis on the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) of the product so that it meets the experiential demands of the discerning Indian consumer. The emphasis that mobile products place has shifted from being transactional, getting the best value for a particular good to being experiential. In the current scenario, the feel and user-friendliness of the medium of availing the service are almost as important as the service itself. And for niche fashion brands that are more dependent on physical stores, e-commerce will now become a focus.
However, building a new platform comes with its own set of challenges. One has to strategize how to expand reach, seasons, conducting Product Market Fit, and Cohort Analysis.
Product-market fit is that you’ve found a product and a market that wants it. When your product is being ripped out of your hands by eager customers and you cannot keep up with their demand for more, you have achieved the nirvana known as “product-market fit.” Most brands fail because they burn through cash without first carefully considering or planning for the moment when customers actually want what they are selling.
Cohort analysis helps the brand to understand consumer behavior and can be useful in analyzing customers’ sentiments and feedbacks. In short, cohort analysis indicate whether customers love or dislike your product. People often believe that collaborating with popular brands will help their marketplace earn whopping profits. But, the reality is that selling big brands does not guarantee the success of your E-commerce store. You have to keep up with the marketing trends and ensure that your audience connects with it.
Because big brands won’t give big margins and the consumer’s needs are not international brands rather they are looking for futuristic articles. It is important to understand user behavior because information like their purchasing history data, previous orders, and browsing behavior can help a lot in building a connection with the users. Personal recommendations and promotions are the real sales drive in today’s world. When running an online business, it is important to analyze how it works. Need to review the performance of the E-commerce marketplace so that one can make wise decisions in the future. The numbers (visitor statistics, sales, etc.) help understand the customer and minimizes the marketing cost.
Indian marketplaces somehow manage to show negligible to deliver products globally, however, on the other hand, Shein is catering its products internationally.
Indian platforms are selling garments but not selling fashion. Also, the Indian garment manufacturing industry has not taken its forte of producing fashion and only has focused on catering to the needs of international consumers. Shein catering to the need of the second-most populous nation in the world which is a textile hub, has the distinction of being the most diverse in terms of different cultures, religions, languages, and more and also producing fashion for global consumers and surprisingly not focusing on our own local consumers which pose create an opportunity for the domestic players in the market.
Minimalism has never been about deprivation. Rather, minimalism is about getting rid of life’s excess in favor of the essential. India needs a platform that will transition from a revolving fast fashion to a minimalist fashion in a meaningful way to create a very fashion-focused marketplace which will cater to the need of the consumers globally.
Adding to that, there are few companies that have a meticulous business model with a skillful and enigmatic passionate team which are creating a state of the art fashion brands that can, not only take shelf space along with the international brands but also dominate them.
This is the time when the Indian players have to really pull up their socks and create the best-in-class and curated and fashion-focused platform. This is going to change the trajectory and create a whole new revolution for home-grown apps, going to be possibly one of the most exciting nights in the Indian startup ecosystem. Hope Indian VCs have enough firepower ready to enable entrepreneurs to quickly fill all the big white spaces made open today.