Betting big on Beauty: E-commerce and UrbanTouch.com

15th Nov 2011
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Abhishek Goyal Founder CEO UrbanTouch.com E-commerce

For many in the Indian entrepreneurial eco system who may have interacted with Abhishek Goyal in his earlier avatar as a VC at Accel Partners, it must have not come as a surprise to see him don the hat of an entrepreneur this year. Abhishek is the quintessential entrepreneur material with a sharp mind and a knack of sensing real opportunities. So its no surprise that he bet big on the beauty business - estimated to be between US$5 to 6bn and growing substantially in India alone - marrying it with e commerce through his maiden venture UrbanTouch.com.In a freewheeling conversation with Abhishek, I have attempted to explore what makes the beauty business so attractive in India and what we can expect from UrbanTouch.com.

 Abhishek, you have been adding 3 to 4 beauty brands every week in UrbanTouch.com. How do you see the demand for beauty products online? Also tell us about the kind of consumers who are buying online?

The beauty business in India is still at a nascent stage. Not many brands have forayed in the country still. With the rise of young/ aware population in India.. the demand for beauty consumption is very high and will continue to be so for some years to come.

Also you have to understand this business in context of the consumer and his/her consumption behavior. Today the consumer is not only aware but knows his/her mind. If a girl wants to buy a shade of lipstick she is not going to wait for a discount to happen to make the purchase. She will buy it when she wants it and a beauty e commerce platform facilities that.

Most importantly what we are addressing through UrbanTouch.com  is to resolve the convenience and variety need of today’s consumer. We have ensured that when you come to UrbanTouch.com  you get a wide variety of products and once you order you get the product very conveniently delivered at your door steps.

What according to you is the key parameter of ensuring traction for an e commerce venture like yours and what are you doing right at UrbanTouch.com (tell us some secret :) )

The key elements to ensure traction and build your space in the market is to first invest in building internal processes and structure. When you have a strong backend then you are ready to cope with the demand efficiently. For the first few months I kept my head down and ensured that we set our processes right. From technology to supply chain to tracking system to inventory management everything has to seamlessly work with each other. This brings to the other crucial aspect of having the right team. Nothing can beat a high quality team and by that I mean not a high quality CV team but in actual getting best people on board who are also entrepreneurial. I have been lucky to get a highly driven team in place which is raising the bars of operational and strategy execution on a daily basis.

Also, we lay high emphasis on customer service. Each of our customer is special to us and we make sure that she feels special when she shops on UrbanTouch.com. From making sure that the goods are timely delivered with extreme care, to replacing the product if damages happen, we have constantly been improvising and creating a beautiful experience,

What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur ( now this is a new hat you wear)

What I like is that I am in the beauty business which is intrinsically a happy business to be in as one associates beauty purchase as an enjoyable experience. Also I like the every day challenge of being in this space where user experience is very high and engaging unlike some other e commerce segments. Also the drive of contributing to the growth of nascent Indian beauty market is motivating.

Mostly when people startup in India they plan or in most cases shift to Bangalore, but you did the opposite, you shifted from Bangalore to Delhi.. how come?

If you see the beauty industry, most of the beauty suppliers and distributors are in and around Delhi NCR. Hence it was a natural decision to shift base. Yes I had a good network in Bangalore and as such none in Delhi when I shifted but it made business sense to be here. I am at very close proximity to my suppliers and distributors and as a company UrbanTouch.com  ensures regular interaction with this ecosystem. Our warehouse is also here so now you know why we are here. :)

We recommend you to check out urbantouch.com, will look forward to your views.

 

Shradha Sharma

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