Launched in 2013, Pipa+Bella is using data extensively to understand customers better, reduce bounce rates, promote engagement, and improve goal conversion.
Born to a family of jewellers, dinner table conversations often revolved around best business practices at Shuchi Pandya’s house. With that background, you would think running a fashion jewellery ecommerce business would be a cakewalk for her.
It was anything but. To traverse the road for a new-age, tech-based business is not easy and it took Suchi, the Founder of Pipa+Bella, an ecommerce brand offering jewellery for women, a while to find her way.
“The challenges I face are related to the competitive and disorganised markets. Our biggest challenge was building stickiness and loyalty around a product category traditionally not driven by branding,” says Shuchi, 35, explaining that creating a brand that is “aspirational yet affordable” was vital to her.
Shuchi, an alumnus of Wharton School, began developing the idea for Pipa+Bella in 2010 while she was pursuing her MBA degree. “While at Wharton, I enrolled in an eight-week class on how to build and pitch a business plan. To bridge my knowledge gap I took up finance and accounting classes, and a course in coding too.”
Bootstrapped for two years, Pipa+Bella raised funds in 2015. It secured $600,000 in a pre-Series A funding round led by LionRock Capital, Sato, and Nath. In 2018, the fashion startup raised $1 million led by Fireside Ventures.
Shuchi observed that women were increasingly becoming decision makers in purchasing jewelry - a sector where the decisions were largely male-dominated earlier. “However, they weren’t looking for expensive diamond and gold items, but rather jewellery at affordable prices that could be worn a few times and then let go without feeling any guilt.”
Witnessing an opportunity, Shuchi jumped right in. At present, she claims to have seen a 300 percent year-on-year growth in revenues. Pipa+Bella offerings range from 18-carat gold-plated charm bracelets to personalised jewellery, engraved pieces, statement necklaces and earrings, ear jackets, chandelier earrings, pendant designs, Swarovski pendants, cocktail rings, and statement cuffs. The range also includes sterling and antique silver jewellery.
Shuchi uses data extensively to understand customers better, from geography to age and psychographic profiles.
“It’s really important that we connect with our customers in a way that goes beyond just selling jewellery. We then set out to build products based on past transaction data and future trends that we believe will hit the Indian market in a few months. This way we can ensure we are always ahead of the game in terms of launching stylish and off-the-runway trends for the user,” she says.
Google has been a critical part of Pipa+Bella's journey since inception, Shuchi says. Apart from using Google AdWords and Google Analytics, the startup also recently started working with Google Shopping, Google Optimise, and Google Enhanced E-Commerce.
It has partnered with Dice Media to launch a web series, and also created its first YouTube campaigns, which Shuchi says, have led to “huge brand recall”.
Shuchi says, “We have seen a 13.2 return on ad spend (ROAS) with Google Shopping and Google Adwords over the last three months, which is nearly unheard of in our industry. For Google Adwords particularly, we decided to take an approach towards more niche categories in jewellery (such as charm bracelets and personalised jewellery) rather than generic ones. As a result, we have seen 1st page Google rankings for over 150 keywords. We saw a 200 percent increase in conversions and nearly 50 percent decrease in cost of acquisition.”
When it comes to customer optimisation, Enhanced E-commerce on Google Analytics also has become an integral part of Pipa+Bella’s journey to improve goal conversion rates, reduce bounce rates, and understand user behavior from start to end.
“In one particular incident, a funnel report generated on GA allowed us to make a quick fix on the website, and we saw a 300 percent increase in checkouts within 24 hours. In another instance, an item on our website that was about to be phased out became an instant bestseller thanks to In-Page Analytics that helped us determine interest based on the number of clicks. Our merchandising team also uses Google Trends to understand popular jewellery categories by analysing search history over a period of time,” Shuchi explains.
The raw materials for the products are sourced from across India.
Pipa+Bella has grown from a small four-member team to a team of 33 people, but Shuchi says everybody does everything in a startup like hers.
“I remember the first year, the night before Diwali all four of us sat on the floor of our warehouse and packed orders for 6-7 hours. The next day, we personally went to deliver orders to customers because no delivery company was picking up parcels on Diwali. We started hiring new people as our company grew and with the funding. But we defined our company values very early on. While hiring, it is critical that the team and every employee connect with the company’s vision in a way that goes beyond just selling jewellery,” she says.
According to a study by AlliedMarketResearch, the global costume jewellery market size was in 2015 valued at $25.6 billion; growing at CAGR of 6.9 percent, it is expected to reach $40.6 billion by 2022. The costume jewelry market has significantly benefited from economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and LAMEA regions. A rise in living standards and growing fashion consciousness are expected to boost growth further.
Kanwaljit Singh, of Fireside Ventures and an investor in Pipa+Bella, says,
“Pipa+Bella is a very exciting business leveraging style, fashion, and customisation to build a unique jewellery brand for millennial consumers. It’s been a pleasure working with Suchi who brings deep knowledge of the domain and all the skills required to build a successful fast fashion, online-first brand.”
Some of the bigger players competing with Pipa+Bella include BlueStone, CaratLane, and Fourseven among many others.
So, what differentiates them from others in the similar space?
“Our brand’s integrated supply chain and strong relationships with vendors allow us to introduce new collections every week. Our e-portal offers customisable options in jewellery and we even have a user-generated content (UGC) section on our website that allows loyal customers to post pictures on social media using specific hashtags and get exclusively featured on our site. This has helped us increase engagement and also allows shoppers to see the versatility in styling our jewellery,” Shuchi says.
Kanika Mehta, from Mumbai, one of Pipa+Bella’s customers, says, “I really loved everything – from delivery time to packaging of the product to the product itself. I ordered a pair of earrings, which turned out to be better than they looked on the website. Pipa+Bella rocks!”
With fresh strategies and funding, Pipa+Bella is aiming to break even in FY19. In the future, it wants to expand to new newer and innovative distribution channels. “We will use the funding to expand internationally as well as develop a robust offline distribution model,” Shuchi ends.