This social commerce startup is facilitating emerging brands to build their digital storefronts

Delhi-based social commerce startup Stage3 is empowering the creator economy in fashion and lifestyle while providing a personalised and engaging social shopping experience for India’s GenZ and millennials.
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Indian consumers are looking for unique, attractive, and affordable fashion apparel and accessories that exhibit creativity and individuality. However, fashion aisles today are stocked with either cheap commoditised fashion or high-priced labels that they cannot afford. 

Recognising the enormous potential in this market, Stage3 launched its influencer-driven social commerce app in October 2021 to build the next generation of fashion commerce for young Indians. 

The Delhi-based community-powered shopping platform helps customers discover, shop, and sell stylish branded fashion at affordable prices. It is a social marketplace for fashion that delivers a curated and hyper-personalised shopping experience directly from fashion influencers, Instagram boutiques, and brands.

Sreenshot of the app

“We want our customers to be on top of today's fashion game without worrying about pricing and seasonality,” Sanchit tells YourStory.

He says, emerging D2C brands and homegrown labels lack the financial resources to create a brand identity and expand via traditional marketplaces like Myntra.

“So, with a blend of our fashion acumen and cutting-edge technology, we are facilitating emerging brands and homegrown labels to build their digital storefronts in the most seamless way that is as easy as setting up an Instagram profile,” he adds.

Currently, the platform supports 500+ influencers and has 1,500+ sellers who cater to 470 million+ GenZ and millennials looking.

Onboarding and quality check

If a user signs up as a seller, he/she needs to provide some basic information along with billing details and add their product, which is similar to uploading a picture on Instagram, explains Sanchit. 

Once the seller adds the product, it goes through the curation team, which approves or disapproves the listing in the next 24 hours. 

The curation team checks for the product category, the information provided, the pictures uploaded, and if it meets the curation criteria of the platform. It then starts reflecting on the user’s storefront, which is basically like an Instagram profile.

In case a seller gets an order, Stage3 does all the heavy lifting for both the seller and the buyer. 

“When we did our initial tests and pilot, we realised that a lot of people could not manage packaging. Hence, Stage3 sends the packaging with a waybill attached to the seller. All that the seller needs to do is take the product, put it into this packaging, and seal the package. We create a pickup from the seller to be delivered to the buyer, and we try to complete the process within about three to four working days. As soon as the order comes within 24 hours, the packaging gets dispatched to the seller. Once the seller gets it, the waybill on the seller's packaging gets activated, and within the next 24 hours to 48 hours, it gets picked up from the seller and then delivered to the buyer,” explains Sanchit. 

He adds, “Once the buyer gets the product, they get about 48 hours to raise any concern with the product. If the product doesn't match the description and if the condition of the product is not good, the buyer has to take a picture, send it to the Stage3 customer service team, and upload the picture on the app. If there's a discrepancy, we do a return from the buyer back to the seller. In this case, the seller gets penalised for issuing or sending a bad quality product.” 

“We're also bolstering our AI expertise to support this process and supplement our existing quality assessments,” he adds.

The backstory

Founded in 2016 by Sabena Puri and Sanchit Baweja, the Delhi-based startup initially provided today’s fashion-forward millennials access to glamorous fashion through a rental business model where it would make expensive designer wear available to its users at a fraction of the MRP.

In 2018, the startup launched its D2C home-grown fashion brand Alaya, which collaborates with prominent influencers and designers to create capsule collections to bridge the gap between aspiration and affordability.

However, with COVID-19 impacting the startup’s offline business, Stage3 decided to pause its rental business model in April 2021. 

Sabena Puri and Sanchit Baweja

Due to increased social media activity and evolving consumer behaviour during the pandemic, the startup launched its influencer-based social-commerce app - Stage3.

“After evaluating the consumer trends and leveraging our 30k+ solid influencer network on the back of Alaya foundation and a robust fashion and tech backend, we built a peer-to-peer social shopping app to discover, shop, and sell stylish branded fashion at affordable prices,” explains Sanchit.

“We saw an exceptional response on the pilot run with leading influencers like Sakshi Sindani and Diksha Rawat. All the closets sold out in 24-48 hours, generating 30,000+ sign-ups for potential sellers. With sustainability at the core of our model, we believe more and more people will resonate with our vision to make fashion accessible, and would want to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet by exploring fashion sharing,” he adds.  

Stage3 app, which is in beta, already has over 30,000 users across iOS and Android. It also has a robust connection with Bollywood, with many celebrities providing access to their exclusive styles for fashion-conscious customers. 

With a team of over 50 members, Sanchit is responsible for overseeing the business operations at the company and Sabena, as the CEO, spearheads merchandising and tech.

Market size and revenue

According to a recent Bain and Co. and Sequoia India report, social commerce in India was estimated at ~$2 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $16-20 billion by 2025, and will likely hit nearly $70 billion by 2030.

Stage3 claims to have registered a year-on-year growth of 200 percent, with its current ARR standing at $3 million. 

“Given the skyrocketing usage of social media and evolving consumer behaviour, we have seen a 30 percent increase in our social media follower base in the past 12 months. At present, we have over 500,000 followers. We envision building the next generation of fashion commerce that is social, personalised, and influencer-led for the Indian youth,” claims Sanchit.

With a commission-based business model, the startup, which helps the sellers with logistics right from packaging to delivery, charges its sellers flat 20 percent. 

Funding and way ahead

In December 2021, the startup raised Rs 20 crore in pre-Series A round funding co-led by Inflection Point Ventures, LC Nueva Investment Partners, along with LetsVenture and Stanford Angels. So far, the startup has raised a total of $5 million through external funding. 

Stage3 plans to expand into beauty, home & living, and children's wear in the next 12 months. Internationally, Stage3 competes with players like Popshop Live and Depop, while in India, it considers Meesho as its competitor. 

Edited by Megha Reddy

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