While making a profit and breaking even seem like a distant dream for most e-commerce players, NDTV’s online retail venture, Indianroots, has achieved a breakeven within eight months of its existence. Indianroots launched in July last year and focuses on the Indian diaspora.
“We achieved cash breakeven last month because of tight cost control, some hard calls on letting go of people, innovations in terms of shared marketing with key brands and importantly not relenting on margins,” says Rahul Narvekar, CEO & Co-founder, Indianroots.
At present, the company does close to 2,700 orders a month with an average transaction size per purchase pegged at around Rs.10,000. Sarees, SKD, fusion wear and home decor contribute maximum transactions for the startup.
Interestingly, the Gurgaon-based company had created history by selling one of the most expensive e-commerce transactions worth Rs.19 lakhs. It was a restored heirloom piece — a shawl by designer Pranavi Kapoor. Indianroots offers creations by top designers like Sabyasachi, Rohit Bal, Neeta Lulla, Meera, Muzzafar Ali and Anita Dongre among several others.
Difference between domestic and global market
Rahul has an experience of running India focused as well as global e-commerce ventures. Prior to Indianroots, Rahul was the founding member of Fashionandyou. “With Indianroots, we pitch ‘Indian sensibility products’ for the global Indian,” says Rahul.
Unlike other India focused e-commerce startups, Indianroots doesn’t offer Cash on Delivery (COD) as a payment option.
“We don’t do COD and stay away from freebies and deals. We find original designer wear of the highest quality, including rare handcrafted, handmade artisan products from small parts of India which are dying due to lack of markets,” points out Rahul. It offers hard-to-find hand painted products like this special saree which has the entire ‘Ramayana’ hand painted on it.
Creating a win-win situation
Artisans in India typically get exploited by middlemen, and Indianroots cuts through these layers to ensure a fair price to both — artisan and customer. “When a handbag is marketed as a handcrafted product, people are happy to pay a few lakhs but when it’s a handcrafted product from artisans in India the marketing, packaging and distribution channels are missing. We act as that missing channel and this is what makes a difference,” says Rahul.
USA, the UK, India, Canada, Australia, the UAE and South Africa are the biggest market for Indianroots. Customers in India can also access them but at present the startup focuses on global markets and aspires to achieve dominance there. “After achieving significant scale in the international market, we will focus on the domestic market. Indian e-commerce market is still evolving although we get significant traffic from within India but the major challenge is cash. “We don’t do COD and most customers in India are used to cash on delivery when it comes to higher value items,” points out Rahul.
When asked about how difficult it was to foster a startup culture under the umbrella of a conglomerate like NDTV, Rahul says, “We are a NDTV group company which means we share the same values. There is no grey area in anything that we do, it’s all black and white.”