Gurugram-based fashion ecommerce portal PostFold targets a niche audience focussing on mood-based clothing lines such as Sunday brunch, Saturday night, and travelling.
At a glance
Launch: November 2015
Problem it solves: making mood-wear fashion affordable
Aashray Thatai and Ashish Gurnani met while studying at the Northeastern University, Boston, in the US. When they moved back to India, they saw a major gap in the market for quality apparel at an affordable price.
“Online marketplaces led us to low quality and the big brands led us to a very high price. After we dug deeper we uncovered that big brands sell their products at 7-10 times the price it costs them to make. This led us to start finding market efficiencies and figure out how we can save costs in the production cycle,” Ashish says, as he recollects the beginning of their entrepreneurial venture.
Both were interested in running their own business. After studying Marketing and Finance in Northeastern University, Boston, Ashish had worked with Amazon as a digital advertising analyst and later with John Hancock and EMC. Aashray, a mechanical engineer, has worked at the Williams Sonoma e-commerce distribution centre in operations. With Ashish’s experience in marketing and planning along with Aashray’s experience in manufacturing and distribution, they realised that they could challenge the system.
The last fold when you dress up, whether it’s when you fold your shirt sleeve or the fold of the of your pants, it is the last action or statement you make after getting ready. Aiming to help tell the story afterwards, Ashish and Aashray named their startup ‘PostFold.’
Launched in November 2015, this e-commerce portal brings contemporary fashion from desk to dinner and everything in between. By vertically integrating at every stage, they bring down the costs (to customers). On an average PostFold launches 15 categories with more than 120 styles so that they have new styles almost every month. In total they have more than 400 SKUs live on the site, at an average price of 1200-1700.
Postfold does its entire production in India to help support local manufacturing. “We manage end to end operations in-house – from manufacturing right up to design while utilising high-quality fabrics. This helps us ensure least costs and excellence in quality,” says Ashish. He adds that this also helps ensure garments are ethically produced as every process can be audited, with the result that they have seen month on month growth of almost 35 percent.
A factory is termed socially compliant by the PostFold’s team when they answer the following fair-trade practices:
- Are the working hours as per the law?
- Does the factory have good sanitary conditions?
- Does the factory employ any children as labour?
- Does the factory comply with environmental laws?
- Do the workers wear safety equipment for their job functions?
- Is first aid available in the factory?
- Does the factory have fire extinguishers in the building?
Only if all the ethical factory factors are followed, they approve the factory and operations are initiated. “Sometimes it’s challenging to let go of factories because of the social compliance aspect as it delays the product development cycle and launch of new products,” Ashish adds.
The team audits each factory before starting to work with factories “We make sure that the workers are paid more than the minimum daily wage. We believe workers who are happy and lead fulfilled lives produce better quality clothing, hence we make sure they are not mistreated at their workplace and are comfortable.” says Aashray.
Customer acquisition and retention
PostFold covers working professionals in the age group of 21–35 and reaches out to them through digital marketing. Ashish explains, “We are extremely active digitally to push our message and story across. This includes social media, SEO, SEM marketing efforts, and relevant blogs and articles. Pop up shops and sponsorships aim to increase their physical presence and allow consumers to touch and feel PostFold products before they buy it.”
PostFold is otherwise available only online. “This allows us to have a larger inventory and to focus 100 percent of our attention on providing our customer with a superior online shopping experience,” says Aashray.
Although customer acquisition is a challenge in a price sensitive market like India, PostFold has seen a 60 percent repeat rate among customers. Gurugram also gives constant exposure to the ever-expanding and changing market.
Ashish says that they regularly send out feedback forms to ensure that they are doing what customers expect. “We are improving our website and incorporating all the feedback to make the customer experience even better and this year we are investing in different campaigns to increase customer engagements.”.
He adds that the company is extremely transparent, both internally and externally. “We are happy to invite any customer to Gurugram and take them around our office and factory,” he says.
By 2020, India is expected to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group, and online fashion retail is set to touch $35 billion. PostFold is targeting this segment by focusing on mood-based clothing lines such as Sunday brunch, Saturday night and travelling. It also plans to enter the global market soon. Bootstrapped so far, Postfold aims to raise external funding by the end of the year.
PostFold’s team of 15 encompasses various functions that include design, product merchandising, marketing, IT, and website development. “The best design ensures better-looking products while the best technology ensures that we can make these designs available at the best possible rates in the least amount of time. Being an online retail brand, how we present ourselves with current designs and stay updated with the latest technology is the best possible way to succeed in this competitive market,” concludes Ashish.