Kapila Gupta was already raising two young girls, when she daringly birthed her third baby – an e-commerce portal for locally unavailable luxury productsBinjal Shah
Whenever one wants to buy a luxury product, they either connect with their friends who are travelling abroad, or they order them online. And the logistical timeline for delivery normally takes more than 15 to 20 days. Even with the advent of deals-based e-commerce and the lightning-fast supply chain, the price-tags of luxury products maintained a united front in protest of blowout sales and are often even more expensive for overseas enthusiasts. Kapila Gupta, a seasoned chartered accountant-turned-mother, was on a two-year long sabbatical to raise her children. She decided not to return to the grind, and instead, follow her lifelong dream of running a business. Thus, Luxurystation.com was born. The platform offers an authenticity guarantee to the extent of twice the invoice price.
A chartered accountant and B.Com Honours student from SRCC, 36-year-old Kapila spent a whole decade in professional services, working with PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd. After a successful stint with the consulting giant, she decided to take a break to care for her two beautiful daughters.
When her younger daughter turned one, she thought of returning to work. Even as making inroads back to her old job wasn’t difficult, having a clean slate left the possibilities wide open, especially to follow her heart on a dream she had nurtured for a while. “I had the option to rejoin, but I had always aspired to attempt something of my own, something which was more challenging.”
She was definitely apprehensive, to say the least, as this meant a complete transition from everything she was familiar with. At the same time, she deeply cherished all the beautiful moments of motherhood. “Apart from the need of creating something of my own, I thought my own venture will give me more flexibility,” she inferred.
Now or never
The thought behind Luxurystation.com was born when Kapil was looking for a handbag of a brand that was not launched in India. “I wanted to order it online from a UK-based portal but felt reluctant due to much higher landed price and the time they would take for delivery,” she recalls.
She then decided to pull up some numbers on the popular luxury brands unavailable in India and their product prices across the globe. Her research revealed that the price differential for brands available in India was at a significant premium to the European prices and the presence of these brands was restricted to the metros. She observed that the store rentals and running costs were making it difficult for these brands to expand pan-India. It was then that she started to work on this concept, of bringing international luxury brands, especially the ones that are unavailable or scarcely available in India, to one’s doorstep, through an experiential e-commerce platform.
The inventory-led model offers its customers both the option to visit their studio or seek the comfort of viewing the products online. They deliver pan-India, taking not more than three to four days to execute any order, in any corner of the country. Since they started, they also diversified into pre-owned luxury goods, where the customers can either sell directly, consign,or even exchange it with new products. Luxurystation.com is one of the only platforms in India to offer both new and pre-owned products.
Taking one for the team
All her expectations, in terms of the time commitment involved in a running startup, and having more flexibility, did not hold true for very long.“But, I do have some exclusive perks – like the fact that that I get to take my daughters along to work, whenever I like!” she gleefully exclaims.
She feels that women entrepreneurs and mompreneurs today are becoming role models to other women who want to start their own business, and just for that, the tussle for striking the work-life balance is absolutely worth it.
With a soft launch in March 2015, and taking on the market all guns blazing in October 2015, at present, the website has 5,000 registered users, of which, 250 have actually shopped with them,and 50 percent of them returned as repeat customers.They execute around 50 to 75 transactions a month.
Apart from the reward programmes, they also offer a unique ‘reserve’ feature that allows users to secure the product they wish to buy for 72 hours before it goes off the shelf.
Between 2011 and 2015, the number of millionaires in India, according to a Kotak Wealth Management report, grew from 62,000 to 1,37,100. The number of millionaire Indian households worth $3.8 million grew by 17 percent from 2014 to 2015. That figure is expected to more than triple to 348,000 households over the next five years with a combined net worth of Rs 415 trillion. With these stellar figures, the Luxury Market in India has witnessed a triple digit growth rate over last few years, with online luxury market increasingly gaining greater acceptance. The market for preowned luxury products is even bigger in the online luxury space. According to a study by Euromonitor, between 2009 and 2014, the Indian luxury market grew from around $30 billion to a whopping $132 billion. In 2014 alone, the sale of luxury goods in India grew by 25 percent.
Their closest competitor is Darveys, launched in 2014, which claims to have 15,000 members and shows 25 percent month-on-month growth.
The grand scheme of things
The platform was recently listed as one of the recommended sellers of Authenticate First, one of the largest US-based company for certification of authentic luxury products, which helped them address customers concerns about authenticity.
Coming up from their luscious brewery by the end of the month, are refurbishment services for luxury products, like the bag spa service. They recently introduced fragrances and will soon be adding footwear, watches, and apparel to their menu. “We are now focusing to expand product range, product categories as well as some interesting concepts like celebrity closet. The idea is to create a one-stop shop for luxury products,” Kapila Gupta reveals, before signing off.