A venture of young guns, bestylish is on the right road map of growth. In a conversation, Shailen Amin, CEO, beStylish.com talks about their retail journey.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Can you brief us aboutbestylish.com? The team consists of young minds, how did everyone get together to decide on the venture?
Shailen Amin (SA): beStylish.com is the start-up dream of the three of us who are passionate about shoes and technology. Abhishek Lal, VSSK Prasad and I came together to take up the opportunity to bring a niche business model to India, offering shoes on an e-commerce platform to the discerning, fashion and brand-conscious Indian consumers.
Harish Bahl, Founder and CEO of the Smile Interactive Group and I have been friends since I helped acquire Quasar on behalf of WPP Group. We share the same passion for ecommerce and e-retail. I am from an entrepreneurial family but have worked in the corporate world throughout my career, so the itch to start something was there but the timing was never right. Harish is a self-made entrepreneur with limited corporate background. Partnering with him for the launch of BeStylish.com was a symbiotic next step!
Harish and the founding team met often and before we could know, the plot started to reveal itself and as they say, rest is history!
NM: How has the buying trend for online retailing in the past 18 months? On an average how many people shop on beStylish.com in a day or on an average in a month?
SA: beStylish.com was launched in May 2011 and we have been in the business for the past ten months now. According to IAMAI, e-commerce has picked up in the past one year crossing the 10 billion dollar mark and growing at an average rate of 70 per cent annually. 2011 has been a good year with many start-ups in this space that have together led the growth of organised e-retail forward in a big way. Considering that we will soon have more mobile phones than people in India, combined with the ever growing Internet user base that’s slated to touch 300 million by 2015, this digital sunrise complements the increasing number of players in the eCommerce space. We are already servicing over a thousand orders everyday – that’s looking at over 30,000 orders a month!
NM: Which brands have you partnered with that can be bought on your website?
SA: beStylish.com offers over 90 brands and 3000 styles making it India’s largest online shoe store. Our strategy includes a healthy mix of popular brands as well as niche/ exclusive designer labels like Verushka, Swati Modo and Taramay that are popular in their specific segments and now can utilise our platform to access a wider customer base. This approach allows us to help grow the segment as well as expose our customers to choices and options that were unavailable till now. The third prong of the strategy is to offer luxury/high-end brands like Versace, D&G and DKNY that again, were not readily available across all markets. An eStore is a perfect platform that allows uniform and consistent availability and we aim to constantly augment that.
The other brands on offer include Nike, Puma, Adidas, Reebok, Hush Puppies, Billabong, Lee Cooper, Alcott, Carlton London, Barbie, Woodland, GAS, Clarks, Liberty,Provogue, Rockport, Red Tape, Crocs, Inc.5, Catwalk, Lotto, Sketchers, Converse and many more.
NM: Is Bestylish looking at opening brick and mortar stores as well?
SA: Currently, we have no plans of any offline ventures.
NM: Starting from placing an order to the delivery of the product at the customer’s doorstep, what is the entire process? How is the distribution of the product taken care of?
SA: Products go through stringent quality checks at the time they reach our warehouse, a second time before they are uploaded on the website and a final time when an order is placed. This way, every single pair is checked multiple times to ensure a hassle-free experience to our customers. Over and above that, with a generous 100-days returns policy, multiple payment options including cash-on-delivery, 2-way free shipping and returns and a round-the-clock customer support centre, we are committed to ensure that the trust customers place in online shopping is upheld at all times.
Adding the fact that orders are shipped immediately and reach doorsteps within 48 hours in most cases, our customers can safely plan their purchases to suit all occasions and purposes. We have tied up with all the major carriers across cities to provide the best and the most hassle free delivery to our customers. Our network combines top courier services as well as India Post to reach our customers even in the most remote locations.
The attempt here is to create quality, availability, service and delivery benchmarks that will help grow the market as well as meet the rising expectations of the new-age Internet customers.
NM: In case of defect or size hassles, how does reverse logistics work at Bestylish?
SA: Sizing related issues are rare as we standardise the process by measuring the shoe sizes again as per Indian needs, irrespective of the manufacturer supplied details and relabeling it separately with beStylish.com size labels. Yet, if there are issues, we request the customer to call on our 24X7X365 toll-free number to arrange for a free pick up. The product can either be replaced or the money can be reimbursed depending on the choice of the customer.
NM: Online retailing seems to be picking up in the smaller towns and cities, a shift from the metros. What is encouraging this budge in paradigm?
SA: The deeper penetration of internet, rising awareness around fashion, style and latest products and lack of variety in Tier II and Tier III cities in India has given a boost to online retailing in these markets. Facilities like cash on delivery offered by the key players in the space have added to the ease of shopping online where not necessarily everyone is entitled to be a credit/debit card owner to shop on the web.
Our customers in Tier II and Tier III cities do not always have access to various brands available in the market. Access to beStylish.com offers this choice to all customers irrespective of location. If consumers can’t find a shoe or their size in the physical store, chances are beStylish.com will have it because we carry a larger inventory at all times. Our unique concept of retail kiosks placed in market places which allow the customer to interact and learn more about shoes. This has been a huge hit in these cities.
For beStylish.com, 37 per cent of the traffic comes from urban areas, while an equal number comes from towns with a population of less than half a million.