Fashion discovery platform Red Polka aims to bring window shopping online
Move aside regular e-commerce platforms. It is now the age and time of fashion discovery platforms. When there are several e-commerce platforms and apps, it becomes difficult to pick the best among several brands. Thus, Vishakha Singh the Founder and CEO of Red Polka strongly believes in the philosophy ‘Jo Dhiktahai, woh bikta hai.’
Red Polka is an online fashion and lifestyle curation portal, which provides a platform for sellers to showcase their designs to their target audiences. Red Polka currently, focuses on woman shoppers and their shopping behaviour, in particular.
From a marketer to an entrepreneur
A media marketing professional for over 15 years, Vishakha has worked with The Times of India Group, CNBC TV 18 and assisted in the branding and strategy of the launch of Times Now. It was during that last stint with the news channel that Vishakha gained considerable insight into consumer behaviour. “I had worked and done a lot of research on understanding brands and buying behaviour in consumer,” says Vishakha.
This made Vishakha realise that if you align your brand messaging to buying behaviour of consumers, it can create wonders. Citing an example, Vishakha said while working on the launch of Times Now, when they focussed on changing their strategy to focus on behaviour, they saw a rise of five per cent market share to 55 per cent.
To understand buying and consumer behaviour better, Vishakha joined the Future Group. After her stint there, Vishakha started her first venture Aurora Comms, a shopper marketing and retail media firm. During that time Vishakha, worked with several brands to understand shopper engagement and how buying behaviour can increase brand sales.
Red Polka helps women fulfil their need for window shopping
She soon realised that shopping behaviour was going through a shift and online and social platforms as a media had made each individual a marketer. “I started focussing more on the shopping behaviour of women. It was through all my research that I understood that women needed choices and options,” says Vishakha. That’s why window shopping is such an essential part of their shopping behaviour.
The idea of Red Polka came to her to help women fulfill their need of window shopping. “Subconsciously, window shopping is a big part of a woman’s shopping behaviour Even if she is heading out for dinner, if a store happens to be on the way, she will look at what the window offers.”
Red Polka, she says, focusses on fulfilling a woman shopper’s need to discover new and different things.
Speaking from a seller’s perspective, Vishakha said that today sellers have different online and offline avenues for selling their products. However, the avenues have become so huge and diverse that they can hardly communicate.
The clutter simply saps away shoppers’ patience to even look through options, adds Vishakha. This could be one of the major gaps as to why the conversation rate for many e-commerce portals is still at a two to three per cent rate, she says.
Helping shoppers and sellers
Red Polka was built to help shoppers discover curated designs in lifestyle and home décor and for sellers to break free from the unnecessary clutter. “The idea is to enable commerce for all sellers, not necessarily e-commerce,” adds Vishakha.
Red Polka tells shoppers that “We curate designs and customize according to your interest. We thus bring in a blend of interest graphs, analytics and curated designs.” These designs are displayed every week according to a theme. Within these they try to write several engagement stories.
Red polka aims to divert traffic to the different brands that need discovery and visibility among the clutter. “We focus strongly on interest graphs and shopper behaviour, thus the themes keep changing according to individual interests,” adds Vishakha.
Citing an example Vishakha said that one of their themes ‘Breathe Easy’ focusses on summers. This is all about dresses-- there are articles on how to accessorise these dresses, occasions on which to the dresses, so and so forth. Going deeper into the interest graphs, the team found out that many of the women are employed, thus the articles would focus on work wear accessories and the kind of summery dresses for work.
Speaking of the revenue model, Vishakha says that Red Polka charges a nominal fee for showcasing their products on the platform and takes a commission of the sales. Red Polka already has 35 different brands registered on the platform.
The platform sees a 30 per cent of return and repeat visitors. Vishakha sees this as a great sign. She says that it simply means people are looking to engage more with the content they are providing. Red Polka currently works on a network marketing model.
Red Polka was launched in January 2015. It has recently raised a seed funding of Rs 1.6 crores from angel investors. The funding was not something Vishakha actively chose, a friend heard of the brand and decided put in some money. The team plans to hire more talent, bring in more people with web and mobile experience, and launch their app shortly. Red Polka has hired a CTO with Artificial Intelligence expertise, to strengthen their analytics and curation based on the interest graphs. While the team plans to make the marketing efforts more robust, they are initially looking at bettering the experience.
Growth of the fashion discovery spaces
Over the past couple of months, there has been a growth in investment and acquisitions of fashion discovery portals. Whether it is Woolpr raising funding from Helion Ventures, Snapdeal acquiring Doozton or Roposo again raising funds; it is quite clear that shoppers today need more curated options. With the booming number of e-commerce sites, the need to break free from the clutter and stand out is becoming more important.