E-Commerce in India is nascent and yet, the number of entrants into this space is quite high. Most of these e-commerce portals are niche, in that they sell products of a particular category. The most popular niche category so far has been fashion, and this is a story of this new born startup which has started by targeting a niche within a niche.
PepperCloset as the name suggests, is an online closet which sells clothing inspired from celebrities and models across the globe. Sumeet Arora, Ex-Business Head of FreeCharge.in and co-founder and Business Head of PepperCloset says “We have positioned ourselves as an alternate clothing
line and are more focused on 2 tier and 3 tier cities where demand for affordable aspirational clothing is higher. Being nascent markets in this domain, scope of penetration is more in these cities.”
“Women are more serious shoppers”
Every story has a beginning and PepperCloset's starts with being a women centric e-commerce portal. Sumeet Arora feels that there are not too many players in the ‘all female fashion space’ as of today.
“Our founding team member Wilma had worked with an international buying house (MNC apparel brand) and that experience came in handy in hand picking the designs, pricing and finalizing the sourcing partners”
“Women are also more serious shoppers than men. They do take longer time to decide and buy, but the refund/returns and COD defaults are far lesser. Though it’s too early to conclude right now, but we’re at less than 2% COD returns as of today. Also, women are more likely to go in for an impulse purchase and buy more often. They have the purchasing power, and online stores are another channel to use that,” adds Sumeet.He does however admit that they'll be be introducing an all men’s apparel portal in the next quarter.
Numbers and Logic
The number of e-commerce portals coming up today is quite a lot and another e-commerce portal isn't going to stand apart. However Sumeet did share some interesting insights. He says, “it is a lucrative business in the long run. While we often read speculations & forecasts from industry gurus on how e-commerce is going to boom in the next 3 to 5 years, the arithmetic is no rocket science. India is only at 10-12% internet density so there is no doubt that E-commerce will grow organically if not vertically. More than 65% of India is below the age of 35 yrs. And this, with the increasing internet penetration is going to produce the much talked about online shopping revolution in India over the next few years.”
“Many players are coming in the market every day and disappearing even faster. The question is of 'Sustainability' and we believe that's not going to come only by spending millions on ads & marketing. There's a lot more to be done in educating the customers and helping them graduate from the offline to the online world of shopping. We look for and spend on such avenues to create trust and awareness in our brand. Exceptional customer service & timely order fulfillment is one such avenue.”
Founded in July 2012, PepperCloset has been operational from September 2012. Working on self-funding, the portal claims to dispatch 20 orders a day with a ticket size of INR 1500.
"We’re already experiencing good traction from online users shopping from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Around 50% of our orders come from placed like Gujarat, U.P., M.P, Mangalore, Orissa, Assam etc which is a clear indication of which are the markets to be focused on. Also, we get a lot of queries from users based out of the US, Europe & the UK. They’re willing to pay a premium shipping cost to buy our apparels. We’re looking at shipping to these countries as well and have applied for the necessary licences and regulatory approvals."
In the next year, PepperCloset aims to open a men's apparel section, improve logistics and inventory management and target international markets like the middle east. Weather things will span out according to these predictions; time will tell. Until then we wish Sumeet Arora and his team all the very best for his future.
Check out PepperCloset.