By Devika Singh
In the competitive fashion e-tailing segment, smaller e-tailers and online-first private labels are now flocking to the sector’s mega marketplaces in order to survive. Consider how fashion marketplace Voonik, which has pivoted its business model to become a fashion brand, recently launched 350 products on Snapdeal. The start-up also plans to introduce its products on Amazon and Flipkart-owned Myntra. Similarly, premium work wear brand FableStreet started selling on marketplaces this year and its products are now available on Tata CLiQ, Jabong, and Myntra, with plans to launch on Amazon soon.
“Marketplaces have the scale and far higher traffic than on our own website,” admits Ayushi Gudwani, founder and CEO, FableStreet. “They can help us acquire new customers,”she said.
Other popular online-first fashion private labels such as StreetStyleStore (SSS) and StalkBuyLove, which were initially operating only out of their own platforms, are also now selling products on Myntra.
Perhaps among the first to kick off this trend was SAIF Partners-backed FabAlley. According to Shivani Poddar, co-founder, FabAlley and Indya, about 23-25% of the company’s business comes from marketplaces. The company is present on Myntra, Flipkart, Amazon and AJIO. “Say, if we were to reach about one lakh people through our website in a day, this reach would go up to over a million users on Myntra. Therefore, from a brand discovery and awareness point of view, working with marketplaces helps us,” Poddar says. However, given the funding crunch in the space and frequent shutdowns of many players, cross-selling seems like a last-ditch attempt at survival.
Data from analytics firm Tracxn show that overall investment in the fashion e-tailing space has fallen drastically in the last six years. While in 2014, the market saw an investment of $208.84 million in terms of funding, this came down to $58.92 million in 2018, whereas 2019 has seen an even lesser $34.80 million investment in it so far.
Besides FabAlley, few have raised funds for a while now. Earlier in the year, fashion discovery start-up Wooplr wrapped up its operations citing lack of funds, while another similar start-up Roposo has turned its model around. According to sources, StalkBuyLove, too, has hit a rough patch with a mass exodus of several employees.
While there is no dearth of funds for dominant players in the space — Myntra, Jabong, TataCLiQ and AJIO — e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon, too, are betting big on the fashion e-tailing segment. The Indian e-tailing market, as per a forecast from Redseer Consulting, is on track to hit a GMV (gross merchandise value) of $32 billion in 2019 and fashion would have a 19% share in this pie. Given the fierce competition in the space, it doesn’t seem surprising that smaller players are struggling.
“With the onslaught of Flipkart and Amazon, almost everyone is feeling the heat. Given the scale of discounts on these marketplaces and the money spent on customer acquisitions, it is tough to expect a company, which has perhaps raised a Series A or a Series B funding, to survive,” says Aman Kumar, chief business officer, KalaGato.
According to data from the analytics firm, the apps of StreetStyleStore, FabAlley, StalkBuyLove and Voonik have even less than 1% market share by reach compared with Myntra, Club Factory, SHEIN, AJIO, TataCLiQ, and Jabong. KalaGato defines market share by app install as market share based on the number of installs relative to other apps.
Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, is of the view that the cross-selling strategy being adopted by these players can prove to be a win-win for marketplaces as well as smaller fashion e-tailers, if there isn’t much target segment overlap.
“The biggest problem for e-commerce players is repeat purchases, with growth being driven chiefly by deals and discounts,” he says. “Having unique offerings and having a good brand mix can bring the customer back,” he adds. This way, he says, while the brand gets an extended market footprint, marketplaces get to offer a plethora of choices to the customer.