Unlocking 3closets.com: Curated Merchandise For Women

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He uncaged ‘The Golden Bird - Sone ki Chidiya’ along with his team at Idiom Design & Consulting, for the King of Indian retail Kishore Biyani. The wings Chandrasekhar Kornepati drew for Future Group’s logo symbolises the revolution in the consumption pattern of the country.And now, he is back to the drawing board, sketching his own flight into the silver clouds of luxury e-commerce with 3closets.com, in partnership with Swapna Sitaraman. “While drawing the Future Group logo I was inspired to think about economy in a conceptual way and started really seeing unarguable patterns,” recalls Chandrasekhar.

Meanwhile Swapna, a branding and marketing professional dreamed of filling in the lacuna for premium fashion products catering to the urban Indian woman's consumption needs.

In October 2010 their paths crossed when Swapna was scouting for a designer who could translate a business idea into a beautifully branded consumer experience. “Urban Indian women are primarily shopping fashion and luxury goods during their travel outside the country. We both agreed there was a need to provide quality products/brands that evoke exceptional consumption response,” says Swapna.

Together, in April this year they began work on creating a highly segmented multi-brand online retail store 3closets.com with the aim of bringing the best of fashion ‘through curation’. “We believe in a design led business because fashion is about design. None of the e-commerce players in India are focusing on curating their product line. This is our USP,” shares Chandrasekhar. The merchandise at 3closets.com will be curated every season highlighting the latest trends and looks, inspired by the style, mood and attitude of a modern Indian woman.The online shopping destination 3closets.com opened doors last week with brands Terra, Plum Tree, Lotus Punk, B I A N K A and Mojo, among others. In the bid to provide quality fashion awareness to its shoppers, meaningfully engage and win loyalty, 3closets.com will also launch a magazine, in the coming weeks. With the e-magazine, the founders of 3closets.com hope to build consumer trust, traction and increase sales.

Urban Indian women aged between 25 - 35 years define the target consumer base of 3closets.com. Also, fashion conscious men between 20 - 45 years of age wanting a quick pick for their women are on the e-store’s radar.

The new entrant in the fashion e-tailing space has carved an offline outreach plan targeting women in clubs, spas and other places of their interest. It will offer an initial discount code to interested customers, friends & family to spur the activation. 3closets.com reaches out to shoppers in all major town and cities across India, expect for West Bengal and UP, at the moment. The order fulfillment time is estimated to be not more than 15 days from the day of purchase.“It’s the initial operating days for us at 3closets, and hence we are in the process of stocking up the best of what is available in each of the categories. The focus is on bringing international fashion brands and Indian designer labels to facilitate cross border consumption,” says Swapna.

As of now, 3closets.com plans to cover ground on all pricing bands including the Rs 750 to Rs 1,500, and in due course focus on products between the price range of Rs 2,500 and Rs 15,000. “Under our ‘Sale category’ we will include luxury and international brands in higher pricing bands,” adds Swapna.

3closets.com joins the bandwagon of existing biggies such as 99labels.com, fashionandyou.com, myntra.com, theprivatesales.com, brandmile.com, among a few others. Commenting on e-tailing of fashion brands, Future Group Founder & CEO Kishore Biyani said, “The next big revolution will come from e-shopping of apparel and fashion accessories. It’s a category which is still opening up in India and it will be interesting to see what shape this sector will take.”According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the net commerce market size is expected to grow by 47 per cent and touch Rs 46,520 crores by the end of 2011. E-tailing which constitutes 8 percent of the total e-commerce in India is estimated to grow by 62 percent to touch Rs 2,700 crores by end of this year.

Consequently, this year has witnessed the e-tailing space attracting some serious investor interest with Snapdeal.com, Naaptol.com, Flipkart.com, TV18 Home Shopping, and Dealsandyou.com, raking in moolah. In the fashion e-shopping space, for instance, a chunk of investors led by Norwest venture Partners and Intel Capital invested $40 million in Fashionandyou.com, while Info Edge invested $3.5 million in 99labels.com.

Managing Director of Morpheus Fund Balu Nayar believes that the generic inventory cost advantages as well as access issue in India has fueled the potential of e-commerce. Accordingly, there has been a definite hunger by VCs to invest in this sector. “However, recent transactions in this space have been closed at valuations that have been overly high - driven by unrealistic expectations, disregard for low entry barriers, and investor herd mentality. Some of these ventures will survive and create viable businesses, but the majority will implode due to high costs of customer acquisition, overall commoditisation and elusive margins. Having said that, the luxury sector can be viewed distinctly if exclusivity and differentiation are retained,” he opines.

Industry experts observe the cash-on-delivery mechanism has been significant in the growth of e-tailing in the country. “On the hindsight this could be an issue with some brands, as the incidence of returns can be alarmingly high affecting the viability of the business,” adds Balu.

The driver for acceptance of premium goods is the non-availability of many of these brands in large parts of the country, coupled with the discounts offered. Both the founders of 3closets.com view discounts led portals as a challenge for their budding venture. “The e-commerce space in India is full of discounted sale sites, especially in the fashion space. More than choosing quality products, they compel the customer to look for the best deal and overload their closets with impulsive purchases. Quality fashion with the right pricing strategy will change the notion of buying junk on discount sites,” opines Chandrasekhar.

Another challenge Swapna foresees is that of being a curated fashion portal. “The flipside of being a curated portal is that we are choosy about the products we bring to our customers but we also realise that we need to bring in enough variety and quantity. Going forward blocking quality inventory from our vendors on a larger scale will need to be handled delicately,” she says.

While the founders of 3closets.com are aware that the competition in the space is stiff with pricing issues and untimeliness of current season merchandise, Chandrasekhar and Swapna are together gearing up to break the spell of discounts, making discounts at 3Closets.com secondary to staying fashionable, every season.

Website: www.3closets.com

If you are excited about the Indian e-commerce space, then do register now to attend e-sparks 2011 – India’s premier e-commerce startup showcase on 17th December 2011 at Bangalore.

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- Aminah Sheikh