Remember the days when we scribbled school uniforms with ink messages on our farewell day. Everybody wanted to take back customised memories on their shirts, t-shirts, and even the lowers of the uniform. It was the most artistic form of customisation.
YourMerchandise customises apparel and accessories for colleges, schools, companies, startups, profit and not-for-profit organizations, and clubs. The industry vertical stretches over a plethora of products ranging from t-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies, mugs, bands, and badges.
Started in January 2013, YourMerchandise has shipped 90,000 odd apparels to 862 different institutions in 173 cities across India and to four cities internationally last year. With its manufacturing unit in Ludhiana, YourMerchandise has an extensive delivery tie-up with leading logistics companies.
Founder Vijay Rai, an IT engineering graduate from Bhopal, has worked with inkfruit.com. The need to innovate rather than be led by shepherds of the IT sector, made him opt to cater to the youth of his time and the following generations.
Customer satisfaction is the basic marketing strategy of YourMerchandise. It is a small team of five with two production managers who take care of printing and stitching, an artwork specialist, and screen-print specialist.
Talking about the market and target audience, Vijay says: “Our market research showed us that major companies were in metros like Bangalore and Delhi, and catered to a developed market of either the northern or the southern circuit. We decided to set up in Ludhiana, a tier 2 city, with a lower funding as compared to others. We delivered quality to the entire Northeast Indian region.”
Vijay feels that college students, coming in to this region from the entire country and abroad could rely on the quality of his apparel brand. “This became an ideal market for us to deliver our brand. Our marketing technique was to stay focused on quality while capitalising on tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Tier1 cities remain a blurred segment. We did not attempt to pitch in overly crowded market,” he explains
Vijay says that vendors are a tough competition as they have huge bargain margins. Thus the customer might get a product at throw away prices. But, the local market cannot provide customers with durable printing and fabric strength. Says Vijay: “The entire concept of YourMerchandise is to give customers mementos for a lifetime. We promise not just a certain number of washes for our prints. We rather bid over our fabric and promise the prints to last as long as the fabric does. Inclusive of the delivery charges too, the merchandise is cost effective. “
YourMerchandise is a bootstrapped startup and is making a profit since its inception. “We have not approached any of the funding houses till now. YourMerchandise stands up with its financial approach too. It is a resource based startup,” says Vijay. The turnover of 1.2 crore for this financial year makes it a successful venture.
T-shirts are a high growth category but the market is unorganised and fragmented. It is a INR 12,250 crore T-segment. With an increase in Internet penetration, the T-shirt market is estimated to grow with an impressive CAGR of 12 per cent, that is, INR 21,458 crore by the end of 2018.
YourMerchandise supports a student brand manager program (SBM) in prominent colleges in different cities. “We are even opening up our interning forums with lucrative incentives,” concludes Vijay.
Check out their Facebook page.
Inputs by - Kanksshi Agarwal