Wednesday, April 18, 2012: 08:20:36 AM

Retail Guest Column

Fashion retailing fast becoming a trend - Ishita Swarup, 99Lables.com

Shopping online for fashion and lifestyle retailing is gaining popularity among Indian consumers

Indians love great bargains and discounts. The online fashion and lifestyle retailing space has so far remained quite untouched. We on our part identified this and wanted to bring to India, the concept of private online event based sales of luxury and premium brands; at deep discounts. Besides the consumer behaviour, we also identified a strong business need of brands to liquidate their excess inventory in a controlled and qualified environment.The main challenges of online marketing is acquiring, engaging and retaining a customer. For brands focusing on online retailing, the best marketing effort has been done by the members themselves by recommending their experience to others.

 
Earlier, ecommerce was facilitating categories such as electronic products, travel packages and ticketing. However, the concept of flash sales in fashion and lifestyle in India came in late. Brands like 99Lables were one of the pioneers of online fashion retailing and hence it helped to create a market for women shopping for fashion and lifestyle products online.
 
The response to online fashion retailing has been great. It is interesting to notice that 60% of the buyers of fashion brands are women. Sales of these kinds of products generally continue throughout the day with mostly women customers logging in. With most sites like 99Labels having limited stocks, the urgency to get the desired brands and products becomes high. With the reach of the Internet gradually expanding, the buyer base is no more restricted to Tier I cities but has also spread out to Tier II and Tier III cities and a number of consumers for these fashion retail come from these cities. These cities therefore possess huge potential for growth. Non-availability of premium fashion brands, accessories and lifestyle products in smaller towns and cities across India is what we think is the reason behind it. Even though there is a condition of 30% sourcing of raw materials to be carried out in India, a lot of brands would eventually want to make its presence in India. More brands entering the country would result in a business need for excess inventory to be liquidated by each of them. We would be the right channel for liquidate stock to a qualified audience with ‘brand’ burning.  
 
Steps to attract new customers
 
Companies have to come up with strategies to attract new customers as well as to retain the existing ones. We on our part have instituted steps like strong referral program, which rewards the person in several ways for making the referral. Our prime audience are females and hence most of our product offering and communication is designed to cater them. We advertise on sites catering to women interests in order to get the right member and buyer base.
 
We constantly work towards weeding out the junk and maintaining a qualified database of members and buyers. We track which sources are providing us the best leads and optimise those channels.
 
With online retailing becoming a necessity rather than fashion, the importance of steps like these will soon become undeniable.
 
Ishita Swarup is the CEO and co-founder of 99Lables.com

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