How Retail Tech startups are democratising scale and tech adoption for stakeholders in the retail value chain

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In a bid to bring down prices of fast fashion apparel, brands rely on mass manufacturing as a solution. However, the overproduction makes liquidation of unsold inventory challenging and hurts profitability. In contrast, consumers are increasingly choosing personalised apparel that is manufactured ethically. In addition to these challenges, fashion brands deal with structural issues like long lead times and a lack of transparency in the supply chain. All of this means that fashion brands need a flexible solution that can help them experiment and manufacture limited quantities of apparel cost-effectively with fast turnaround times.

Making manufacturing agile for scaling

Addressing this need is Fashinza - a B2B manufacturing marketplace that solves apparel/fashion supply chain challenges by connecting fashion brands to experienced and ethical manufacturers. Founded in 2020 by IIT Delhi alumni Pawan Gupta and Abhishek Sharma, Fashinza helps apparel brands outsource their manufacturing with transparency and reliability. The startup takes complete ownership of the entire production process from designing to delivery and also works with the lowest Minimum Order Quantity (MOQs ) and fast turnaround time. Fashinza’s platform allows companies to track the daily progress of their orders on an AI-regulated dashboard, with live updates from the factory floor. It also helps brands in reducing wastage, eliminating inventory forecasting errors, and enabling quick replenishment of bestsellers. “With Fashinza’s platform, manufacturing is no longer a constraint for a fashion brand,” says the startup’s CEO and Co-founder Pawan.

Today, Fashinza counts brands like Forever21, Noon.com, FirstCry, The Souled Store, and Bewakoof.com among its customers. It has also built a strong network of 400+ ethical small and mid-size manufacturers across India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. “Our ability to work with over 50 brands as a young company and get international businesses to contribute 50 percent of our revenue, shows that we have a global solution driven from India. We have not only worked with some of the biggest brands, but also with individuals to help them launch their brands with low investments,” shares Abhishek.

Today, as part of Flipkart Leap — a launchpad for Indian startups to scale their venture — Fashinza is looking to further drive impact by understanding the supply chain challenges of online retail brands. “E-commerce platforms like Flipkart are helping several legacy fashion businesses take the online route via its platform. And, Flipkart has set up a supply chain that works for online retailers and brands. We are looking to understand and learn from their experience about how we can bring enhancements to the Fashinza platform,” explains Pawan. In addition, Fashinza is also looking to strengthen its backend technology to make manufacturing more consumer-led.

A full-stack solution ‘for all things e-commerce’

Learning from Flipkart’s expertise in e-commerce is ANS Commerce. Co-founded by Vibhor Sahare, Amit Monga, Nakul Singh, and Sushant Puri, the startup is part of the first cohort of the e-commerce major’s accelerator programme. “With ANS Commerce, we want brands to focus on their business and product and leave ‘all things e-commerce’ to us,” says Vibhor Sahare, CEO & Co-Founder, ANS Commerce.

ANS Commerce is India’s #1 full-stack e-commerce enabler and is helping brands across the e-commerce value chain. They enable this through their solution stack, brand store tech - Kartify, performance marketing, e-commerce warehousing and fulfilment.

The platform is pre-integrated with more than 60+ partners such as Unicommerce, Fynd, Delhivery, Razorpay, amongst others. Currently, the startup is working with 100+ established brands including Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Portico, Piramal, Bath & Body Works, CEAT, ITC, MARS and Nivea.

While the ease of powering a brand store is at the heart of Kartify, another factor that contributes to its growing popularity is that it is made for Indian brands and offers integrations that are uniquely designed for Indian consumers. “We help to create a brand site which is lightweight and ‘mobile-first’. The UI/UX as well as the transaction flow is customised to cater to different demographics and consumer profiles,” says Vibhor.

The startup benefitted from the accelerator programme in three areas. “As we were working with many retail brands that had a presence on Flipkart, we were able to deep-dive into how Flipkart viewed its retail partners and how the partnerships could be strengthened. This would help us in strengthening our value proposition for brands,” shares Vibhor. The second key advantage that ANS Commerce leveraged was that it got a better grasp of aspects such as warehousing, market penetration and other functional facets related to e-commerce management. “The knowledge-sharing sessions also helped us in understanding aspects that would help in managing day-to-day operations more effectively - from finance to HR to product development,” he says. The startup is also now piloting a fraud prevention tech solution with Flipkart for early validation.

Building 7-Eleven for India by tapping the emerging segment of mid-sized grocery stores

In recent years, most retail digitisation solutions have had ‘a one-size-fits-all’ approach and predominantly focused on kirana stores. “Sandwiched between large-format modern retail chains and small format kirana stores, a significant segment of mid-sized stores worth $25 billion has been overlooked in the digitisation game,” shares Ajay Nain, CEO and Co-Founder, Gully Network.

Gully Network is building an asset-light modern retail network of tech-enabled mid-sized grocery stores in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. The startup partners with standalone stores that wish to be a part of a modern retail network to increase their income and automate their end-to-end operations. Most of these stores operate in the modern trade format but have not realised their potential because of their standalone nature. The startup provides them with an opportunity to be part of a modern retail network by transforming these unbranded standalone mid-sized stores into omnichannel stores under the brand GULLYMART.

“While there are tech solutions aimed at the mid-sized stores, most of them are fragmented or siloed and address pain points in a particular area. They do not enable complete automation which is a key ask from the segment. Our solution is tailor-made to suit their needs and seamlessly connects all major touchpoints such as buying, selling and operations,” Ajay says.

Today there are 50+ stores with an annual gross merchandise value of $5 million operating under GULLYMART. “We have cracked a unique operations-light and inventory-free approach to scale our idea pan-India. We started with Bengaluru and have already expanded to four cities with our unparalleled model. And, we aim to launch in 10 new cities this year,” he says.

The startup is also working towards monetising the network by generating additional income streams for itself and partner stores. GULLYMART stores will offer digital and physical services at scale, including the last-mile nodal point for e-commerce and battery swaps for EV, explains the CEO. “We are building 7-Eleven for India in a unique indigenous way. We want GULLYMART stores to be a smart retail destination for every neighborhood across the country,” he says. Through the Flipkart Leap program, Gully Network is also exploring possible opportunities for collaboration with the e-commerce platform.


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