Rajat Garg, being the son of an Army official, had an opportunity to travel to different parts of the country. His travel experience made him aware of the diversity of India: from Jaisalmer to Agartala to Kashmir to Karnataka, each place was culturally unique in terms of customs, food preference and clothing.
To make each visit memorable, he would collect souvenirs for his friends and family — a Kullu shawl for his mother, a Himachali cap for his fatherand Madhubani paintings for his friends. This made him realise that there is a demand for these authentic and high quality products but there is neither a credible platform from where such products can be sourced nor do people have the time to visit each place individually. This realisation gave way to him starting Shimply in December 2014.
“Shimply is an e-commerce marketplace with unique and authentic products from various States. It’s a medium to bring the diversity of the country to one platform,” says Rajat.
A lot of companies sell ethnic apparels and handicrafts. However, there is a big gap when it comes to showcasing products that real India uses. Horizontal players are doing a disservice today by selling low quality unbranded products, and thus creating a level of distrust in the user. Rajatclaims to source the products from certified sellers thus making sure that quality is controlled.
Shimply claims to be the only Indian e-commerce company to have acomprehensive set of APIs. “Over 1,000 affiliates have signed up and many of them use our APIs to drive over onemillion queries per month. Our core focus has now shifted to drive sales through our platform. We recently crossed 10, 000 visits per day and our sales is growing strongly. We have 2,500 sellers who have listed 1.7 crore products with us,” says Rajat.
The company aims is to establish trust in buying unbranded products online. On theseller side, over 40 percent of its 2,500 sellers are first-time online sellers.
The platform wants to work in the grassroot level in India to bring unique products online and also pass on all the benefits directly to artisans. Given that Internet penetration is still low in rural areas, it’s a struggle to get quality sellers online. “We have experimented with a few store chains and survey companies to increase awareness about us in a creative way,” says Rajat.
The platform charges a commission on every sale. It claims to have grown to over Rs 1.5 crore in sales in 10 months and expects this to grow by 20x in next 18-24 months. Rajat says that this market is highly fragmented between online and offline players. Right now, not even onepercent of their target market segment is online and the company aims to tap into the available market.
The booming ethnic-wear market is reshaping the apparel industry in the country. According to the India Retailing website, India’s ethnic wear market stood at USD 13,100 million in 2013. This is expected to have grown, at a CAGR of eight percent to reach USD 19,600 million in 2018.
Shimply is not alone in this segment. There are platforms like CraftsVilla, Cbazaar, IndianRoots, among others which give direct competition to the platform. Recently, these platforms have also been able to raise funding. During May this year, IndianRoots secured USD five million funding from KJS Group. In April 2015, marketplace for ethnic and handicraft products Craftsvilla raised USD 18 million in second round from Sequoia Capital, Global Founders Capital and a VC fund founded by Rocket Internet's Samwer brothers.
On competition, Rajat says compared to everyone, he has 17 million products, which is the largest selection among any site in this vertical. “We are not just an e-commerce company connecting buyers and sellers; we are a company that will bring the tradition of India to the forefront and educate our customer about history and culture. In the long run, this will provide us with significantly better customer acquisition metrics compared to competition.”