Day by day you see some or the other player foraying into the e-commerce platform. There’s a steep competition making the segment exciting. Vivek Gaur, CEO, Yepme, Brand of Vas Data Services Pvt. Ltd, talks up plans of the brand with the launch of their e-fashion portal.
Aadeetya Sriram (AS): Your idea behind Yepme.com? When did you come into existence and how much investment for start-up?
Vivek Gaur (VG): I have been associated with e-commerce since 2007 and started bagittoday.com. Over the years, while Travel e commerce has taken off with multi-billion dollar transactions, Retail e commerce has remained a sub scale business with biggest site Flipkart at $ 5.5 Million monthly rate. The key reason for sub scale Retail e commerce is not that there not enough Indians on the net. It is primarily because most apparel, accessories and footwear sold on e-commerce are of end of life cycle/ knock offs/ previous season. Since everybody is selling the same stuff, there are no margins. Our vision is to build a Differentiated Online Private Label business in Apparel, Footwear and Accessories that is Sustainable and Scalable, High Margin and High Volume opportunity and exploit the First Mover advantage. The total market size in India for Apparel, Footwear and Accessories is $ 48 billion growing at over 15%. One of the bigger retailers, Westside with Rs 7680 million turnover has only 57 stores. There is now way they can reach out to 350 million Indians in urban India and over 700 million in rural India. We figured out that quality products are not available in non-metros and hence we have a large untapped market. We get 35% of orders from places that are not serviced by courier and can only be reached by the Indian Post. My sense is that this opportunity is as big as Telecom opportunity in India, and Internet will help overcome scale limiters placed on physical stores. We raised Series A investment from Helion. We are getting huge traction for investment for Series B not only from traditional venture capitalists but also from large private equity players as they see it as a huge opportunity. This space hold very high degree of traction for financial investors as current gross margins are close to 40% and room for further improvement by 10%.
AS: Which brands are associated with you? How many SKUs you offer?
VG: We display Men’s Shirt, Trousers, Jeans, Footwear, Belts, Wallets and other Accessories. We have price range of Rs 899 to Rs 1999. We continuously add products to the site, close to 20-25% new products are added monthly. We display close to 150 styles.
AS: Your view on the E-Commerce industry in India? Where do you see it moving?
VG: Globally Apparel / Fashion is the biggest category online. Zappos.com, Vancl.com has built multi billion dollar businesses online in this category. There is no reason why the trend will not be same in India. However, when you require a change in consumer behaviour, the business needs to do risk mitigation. We are doing it by a) Virtual dressing room on the site to try products virtually before you buy b) Sending return envelope with every packet to help hassle free return in case customer did not get what he wanted, 30 day return policy and reimbursement / pick up of courier for sending the consignment back to us c) Call Me feature on the site for real time call connect with our Call Centre d) Over and above, we try and replicate the offline experience online, e.g., when you enter an apparel store the sales person asks you the occasion for which you want to buy say formal, casual, outdoor or party, we have divided our collection by ‘Dress by Occasion’ concept.
AS: Which are the sectors you cater to with your brands? Do you reach out to Tier II & III cities?
VG: Men in the age group of 25 – 44, living in semi and urban India with deep desire to look and feel good. He has discerning taste on what, when and how to wear. He wants to be noticed for his style quotient
We want to reach to all Indians irrespective of whether they have access to online payment or not. We have cash on delivery option for buyers, wherein Buyer pays courier / post office person at the time of receipt of the packet. Our endeavor is to dispatch the packet within 48 hours of verification of orders. We have integrated site, only products that are available in inventory are shown on the site.
AS: The fashion segment has grown rapidly over the past couple of years, how has this benefited your brand in particular? What are the recent trends in the fashion for footwear, men's wear & women's wear?
VG: With the massive growth of the fashion industry in India, customers today vouch for the comfort, the fit and oomph. They desire brands that let them confidently put up a bold and contemporary style statement amongst peers.
All Yepme products are a result of best practices followed right from fabric to fit and fashion. Every single stitch, colour, the choice of fabric, everything has been designed and put together to give the best brand feeling. Yepme is a comprehensive collection of finest Formal, Casual, Outdoor and Party Wear for day long, all round confidence. Targeting the urban Indian males in their 20s to 40s, it is a first mover in this domain and has well laid out plans on building a profitable venture. The Yepme menswear range is a culmination of Fit, Fashion and Fabric, the ideal brand that understands and delivers fashion for the confident, young urban male. Our range is targeted towards the brand conscious 'Alpha male' constantly seeking peer appreciation. The collection befits the growing generation of individuals who carry a keen sense of what, when and how to wear. In the near future, the fashion brand also has plans to venture into collections for the fashionistas and personality conscious women with its own range of apparels for women.
AS: What are the challenges that you face while managing your inventory, also the discarded items? How is Supply Chain Management designed?
VG: Logistics and warehousing hold the key, we have gone in for IT solution that tracks product at the bin level. All our system works on single back-end and hence in real time. There is no batch processing hence no two sets of data due to interface delay. This looks simple but is a complex integration at IT level. Despite being a Fashion Brand, our biggest team is in IT, we have close to 20 people team, technology will be key to success to this business
AS: Your marketing strategy and future plans in the pipeline?
VG: We launched the brand at F Bar, New Delhi with Dino Morea, Rahul Dev, Rajneesh Duggal and Shawar Ali as Show Stoppers for our Party, Formal, Casual and Outdoor range. You will see us being very active on Fashion Show circuit. The next big one is planned in Mumbai. Our brand is for Alpha Homo Sapiens. The basic insight is that people dress well to be an Alpha Male / Female in the context and environment. Our brand is built around this basic premise. Everything that we do as a brand will connote the same. Even tactical promotions will be on the same lines.