In 2014, Co-founders of YourLibaas - Khalid Raza Khan and Akram Tariq Khan – started the brand as an experiment and quickly transformed it into a strong brand with an international presence.
“Back then, we ventured specifically into lawn apparel because it was an unclaimed territory - there were no niche online players, and marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart had not gained a strong foothold in the market. The demand for lawn apparel existed already, but the supply was limited,” state Akram Tariq Khan.
Within a year, the co-founders revamped the online store, partnered with 10+ designers, and started focusing on social media as the primary channel for sales.
“Given the cash flow was smooth, we strictly stuck to a bootstrapped owned-inventory model. We attempted to build a marketplace model but the retailers/ wholesalers were not ready for it at that point in time which led to delayed shipments, quality issues, and so on,” he shares.
The brand started with a single catalog in 2014 with a budget of Rs 60,000. Over the years, it increased the inventory and onboarded more designers. To date, it has featured over 160+ designers and brands and over 15,000+ SKUs (designs).
“During the last fiscal year, our total revenue was close to Rs 23 crore, of which Rs 14 crore can be attributed to online retail sales. We are growing at a rate of 20-25 percent each year which will be accelerated by our recent international expansion into the UAE as it will reduce logistics costs, enable end-to-end control over the supply chain, enable entry into the lucrative MENA region, and increase international sales due to lowered shipping costs to international markets (US, UK, Canada primarily),” he states.
“In line with our CSR activities and giving back to the community, we are introducing biodegradable packaging with seeds embedded in it. The idea is to bury the packaging and wait for the seeds to germinate resulting in a plant. To incentivize users to do so, we will ask them to post photos of the plant on social media inspiring others to plant more trees. The users who do so will be rewarded with discount coupon codes and gift cards,” he further adds.
Retail and Marketing Strategy
The e-commerce brand focuses on lawn designer apparel. It offers unstitched and semi-stitched salwar kameez suits and Kurtis - imported from UAE.
“Our strategy has always been to start with small, experiment, understand the customer’s actual needs, engage in conversational commerce, and scale only when you have built a significantly large loyal customer base within a niche. The key is to excel within a niche, leverage technology, and then diversify vertically,” he says.
“We are already operating across different channels - Social, Search, Web, and Mobile. For wholesale operations, we also have an offline B2B wing. Given our lack of experience and expertise within the offline retail segment, and the costs associated with it, we haven’t ventured into yet,” he further adds.
The brand’s marketing strategy entails leveraging different channels - social, search, organic and referral-based, and influencer marketing.
Social Commerce Strategy
The brand has always focused on social media marketing (both organic and paid) due to the visual element of the product.
“We tapped into both viral paid marketing campaigns and influencer marketing. The fact that we have close to 440k users connected across the 4 platforms – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Pinterest) is testimony to how social commerce has been widely leveraged,” he shares.
Marrying Technology with the Brand
The market has traditionally been limited to WhatsApp commerce. Small retailers and household women have been selling these apparel through WhatsApp. A major pain point is replica copies wherein customers often end up being duped receiving a replica instead of an original.
“We have been exclusively online and offer easy returns to deal with this apprehension as digital is our forte and USP,” he states.
“We have the official WhatsApp business API to enable chatbot-based WhatsApp orders. Our target customers are non-working urban women who have a hard time ordering online. We achieved a 30 percent increase in purchase conversion rate since introducing the ‘Order on WhatsApp’ functionality. Users found it convenient to get in touch about product queries through WhatsApp and phone. They would send screenshots of products enquiring about the fabric details, price, delivery timelines, and so on. Adding the missing human touch typical of a brick-and-mortar store is a trust-building measure. The introduction of conversational commerce features on FB messenger & WhatsApp resulted in 2,940 orders summing up a total revenue of Rs 1.65 crore through the WhatsApp channel over a period of 90 days. Out of a total of 58.8K users that visited the website through WhatsApp broadcast messages during the same period, a significant proportion actually placed orders. We received an average of 260 requests per day for product information and WhatsApp sales increased by 70 percent,” he further adds.
The brand plans to diversify into related verticals starting with juttis/ khussas, jewelry, handbags, shawls, and more making YourLibaas a one-stop ethnic shopping destination for women.
“As a pilot project, we have recently ventured into designer jewelry and this is the first category to plan to onboard,” he shares.
The brand has partnered with Dubai Silicon Oasis and has moved its HQ to Dubai for international expansion since the brand saw an increasing number of international clients.
“We’re setting up our central hub in UAE which would include a manufacturing and tailoring unit and warehousing which would cater to our international buyers, speeding up transit time and decreasing logistic cost. We’re in talks with Dubai Textile City, UAE for setting up our manufacturing unit,” he states.
“We will partner with upcoming designers and artisans to manufacture their designs and market the same worldwide,” he further adds.