Ahmedabad-based Popup Galleria wins ecommerce without being a retailer or marketplaceAthira Nair
Popup Galleria, which claims 10,000 customers, aims to roll out international shipping soon.
Startup: Popup Galleria
Founders: Ranu Bathwal
Problem it solves: Designer wear from upcoming designers gets a platform
Ranu Bathwal, 35, hails from a business family in Uttar Pradesh. After completing her MBA, she worked in the banking sector for five years in Delhi. She moved to Ahmedabad after marriage, where she started a multi-designer store showcasing leading designers of India, in 2013. It showcased leading designers like Gaurav Gupta, H2O CUE, JJ Vallaya, and AMPM. She also hosted trunk shows and introduced international luxury brands to the city. In 2015, she took a break after she conceived her first child.
“During my pregnancy, I got hooked to online shopping as living in a smaller city you have limited options to find what you want. Post-pregnancy, I had a strong urge to do something on my own and make a name for myself in fashion retail as I realised that there was still a gap in the niche sector,” Ranu says.
In July 2017 she launched a one-of-its-kind online exhibition gallery, Popup Galleria, to showcase established and talented designers every season.
A platform for the old and new
Popup Galleria now hosts designs from couturiers like Wendell Rodricks, Rohit Gandhi, Rahul Khanna, Not so serious by Pallavi Mohan, Krishna Mehta, Button Masala, Aeshaane, Dipali Shah, Anome and Otf. All the collections are available at the same price as the store.
Along with fashion for men, women and children, Popup Galleria also offers a unique selection of stylish and contemporary collections of home decor and art. Prices start at Rs 2500.
“The idea is to do around three online popups in a year to curate something exciting and new every time. I felt that the customer can get the same convenience and pampering at the hands of an online retailer that they get in an offline store,” Ranu explains.
According to Ranu, an affluent Indian customer wants to be pampered more and is sceptical when purchasing from a new store/designer/ brand. She believes that trust is the key and planned a more organised approach to bring in well-established designers and upcoming ones for her customers.
“The focus is on curating new designers or curating fresh lines from existing designers. We help new designers from scratch to showcase their collections on the website and, by constant feedback, help them on product design and innovation,” Ranu tells YourStory.
Not a marketplace
So how is Popup Galleria different from a normal online fashion marketplace?
Ranu explains, “At Popup Galleria, the in-house team curates not more than 40 designers each season, be it new collections or entirely new designers. We work on fresh lines with designers for our customers. The idea is to get fresh and innovative designers or collections for our customers. From both, the designer and customer perspective, it’s a more personalised platform.”
A great advantage for the designers is that they don’t have to compete with each other for sales – Popup Galleria ensures zero clutter in each category. “We encourage our customers to get customisation done, which very few fashion websites do,” Ranu adds.
Additionally, Popup Galleria offers styling experts and personal stylists to assist consumers in picking up perfect attires for special occasions.
The fashion ecommerce space is flooded with startups following different models. But Ranu is not worried about competition. “Our focus remains on doing around three online popups in a year. Also, we are the only website with a loyalty programme which gives you cashback of 4 percent on every purchase. We take full ownership of our designers and collections. From order to execution and delivery we ensure checks at each stage as a trustworthy medium between the designer and the customer,” she says.
In an offline exhibition the customer deals with the designer and an exhibition acts only as a medium to showcase. But Popup Galleria functions as a personalised high-end boutique store and takes full ownership of what their vendors sell, including the customised products.
Popup Galleria targets customers in the age group of 18-40, who are active on social media, and are in the emerging affluent class. They primarily get leads through Instagram and Facebook. In the past few months they have had influencer collaborations too.
As an ecommerce platform, Popup Galleria has an-inhouse IT team. They have tied up with three logistics partners, including Delhivery, for delivery covering mostly all pin codes. “The focus is entirely on customer service and to reach out to all the geographical locations,” Ranu says.
Headquartered in Ahmedabad, Ranu says that the main disadvantage was finding people with relevant experience to set up the core team. Popup Galleria now has a makeshift office in Delhi too.
It was also a big challenge to keep getting something new for customers every season. “This requires a lot of effort, but curating designers and their collections and finding unexplored talent remains our USP,” Ranu says.
Today, Popup Galleria has around 10,000 registered customers.
Self-funded so far, Popup Galleria is meeting operational expenses now, and surpluses are being invested back. At present profit is not their concern. But the team is looking at funding and business collaborations by 2019 to expand marketing and operations.
Ranu did not reveal their current GMV and growth in revenue. But she said that they will roll out international shipping by next quarter as they have already been getting a lot of queries.
“We will also be doing offline shows to bridge the gap between online and offline for our customers. We will be an almost 20-member team by the end of this year,” she added.
Although startups like Zapyle, Rock N Shop, and Luxepolis cater to a similar customer base like Popup Galleria’s, their business model is a major differentiator.
According to ASSOCHAM estimates, India’s luxury market will hit $30 billion this year. With growing popularity of ecommerce and affinity towards high-end fashion among the affluent class, Popup Galleria seems set for a bright future.