Indian online fashion: has it reached saturation or is it still developing?

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In 2015, the number of online shoppers was somewhere at 40 million. By 2020 this number is expected to reach 250 million. The future of Indian ecommerce looks quite bright and the main reason is the widespread use of the internet. A sneak peek into 2021 online retail will show you just how big online retail is going to be.

The shift in ecommerce focuses has already begun. Have you noticed how the fashion category is thriving lately? Sure there have been a couple of closures and the order returns are steeper than before. But if you look at the fashion category in online retail today, you certainly wouldn’t have predicted this at the nascent stage of Indian ecommerce.

New entrants in online fashion retail

Myntra, Jabong, Yepme, Fashion and You, Voonik and Koovs are some of the specialized fashion etailers online shoppers have come to know and love. Many multi-category marketplaces feel the fashion segment is a must too. Ecommerce front runners, Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal all have dedicated categories for apparel, footwear and accessories. Offline players also found the charm of the online fashion category irresistible. And online platforms engaged in efforts to broaden their scope.

  1. TataCLiQ

Tata was the latest big name in retail to join the online marketplace race with TataCLiQ, in May 2016. The Tata group launched its omni-channel ecommerce venture with just 3 main categories. And guess what? Apparel and footwear were the two of these categories.

New though it may be, the etailer certainly brought the heat. TataCLiQ was the first etailer to start off with a fully functional desktop and mobile shopping site and a shopping app too. TataCLiQ also promises to offer top quality brands.

  1. Ajio

Ajio by Reliance launched its online fashion portal in April 2016. The etailer caters to both men and women. The etailer’s main targets are online consumers between the ages of 18 – 34 years. This group of people coincides with the 1.25 billion Indians in the working class and they are all very fashion conscious! Plus they have the capacity to make purchases. Ethnic and corporate wear are their main picks while casuals and party wear may be the next on their purchase list.

  1. Abof

Abof by Aditya Birla has numerous fashion labels under its brand and the booming growth of online fashion retail drew the offline retailer towards ecommerce too. The fashion etailer launched its own version of 3D trial rooms to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. The group also has stake in other fashion brands that sell online like Creative Lifestyles Pvt. Ltd.

  1. Mr. Voonik

For a long while Voonik only satisfied the female consumers’ desires for fashion. In April, the company launched an exclusive online marketplace for men called Mr. Voonik. Was this a smart move? Currently, women spend more on lifestyle goods. Catering specifically to the male demographic could help build more confidence among men to buy clothes online.

To satiate the fashion desire of both genders equally, the etailer has also launched an online amalgamation curated stores, high class fashion and top of the line boutiques in May. Its latest online retail channel is called Vilara.

Gloom is not absent in online fashion retail 

Not everyone has a knack for fashion especially online retail fashion. The fashion category is expected to overtake electronics. But strangely specialized online platforms are facing a bit of trouble. And the cause of their trouble is the lack of money.

Fashionara shut down in May, the main reason behind this was the extreme multiplication of losses. The online fashion platform lost its investor Lightspeed Venture Partners a while ago and in spite of the sales made, Fashionara continued to drown in losses.

According to reports, Snapdeal hasn’t had it easy either. A few weeks ago bad new seemed to follow the etailer. Snapdeal was forced to shut down Exclusively.com, a luxury ecommerce firm. The reason in this case as well was low funds. Exclusively.com will now be integrated with the Snapdeal platfrom to add depth to its fashion category.

Speaking of building its fashion category, acquiring Jabong was supposed to make Snapdeal the next Flipkart-Myntra. But unfortunately the etailer lost out as its ecommerce rival Flipkart who snatched Jabong away.

Rising interest in the ecommerce fashion category

Jabong is a loss making portal too, however, many showed deep interest in the marketplace. The etailer lost its main investor’s confidence as well, yet it managed to turn its luck around by cutting its losses drastically. Flipkart acquired 70% control over the ecommerce fashion segment by acquiring the etailer. Now, it poses a threat to small businesses and even its major rivals.

Amazon refused to stand by and watch its competition gloat. So, the foreign ecommerce player launched a Fashion A-team to take on the online fashion threesome – Flipkart-Myntra-Jabong. The team will focus expert technology only on this category to fix the problems associated with it. Thus, encouraging faster, smoother and efficient fashion ecommerce.

eBay has also caught wind of the wonders of fashion in online retail. The etailer plans on using this category to revive it former glory. The US-based marketplace is looking for fashion etailers so it can ride the popularity wave all the way to the front of the industry. The etailer even showed interest in the purchase of Jabong.

Shopclues, a much smaller etailer, could also be looking to overthrow Flipkart from its ecommerce fashion position. The digital retailer wants to make its brand synonymous with online fashion and is taking steps to see it through.

Sellers review the online retail fashion category

Online sellers are a significant part of online retail’s support system. They feed the consumer’s demand and understand how they function based on the trends they experience. For better insights on online fashion retail we connected with a few online sellers.

Online fashion retail the future of ecommerce?

Online seller, Bhavya Shah states, “Fashion is surely going to be the next big thing in Indian E-Commerce.”

Bhavya sells under the brand Ziya and has been in the online retail business for 2 and half years. He says his products are available across 250+ outlets in Gujarat. And for the purpose of sales expansion he decided to takes a chance by selling on Online Marketplaces.

Asad Virani sells online through his brand eShop24x7. He has been selling online since 2005 and prefers online marketplaces. He too feels online fashion will be the future of online retail because he shops online as well.

He claims, “There is a wide variety to choose from at the click of a button and if you don’t like something then you can always return it. I personally do my shopping online be it footwear or even clothes.”

Pratik Bsjaj of Sarvagny Clothing, has 2 years of experience in online retail and seconds this thought. According to him, online retail offers a variety not available offline. Also, customers can buy directly from the core manufacturer. That is why online fashion is ahead.

“Sale of fashion online is the next Big Thing because a lot of smaller as well as, bigger brands are available to buyers at very good prices online. Plus, marketplace return policies make it easier for buyers to buy relatively less popular brands too and hence, the buyer gets access to a much larger assortment. This is especially true in tier-2 and Tier 3 cities and remote areas,” claims online seller, Chirag Gada from Mumbai, selling online under the brand, MBOSS for  years now.

Gagandeep Khanuja has been in the online retail game for about 2 years. He is enthusiastic about the online fashion category despite the problem of returns. It is surely the next big thing he says and thinks it has the potential to replace small offline retail shops.

“I think yes fashion is the future of ecommerce because from my experience due to culture and tradition some apparels are not available at local retail stores are available online,” says Chirmangal Sarees seller Kartik Patel. He has been in the ecommerce business for 8 months now and prefers online selling over offline retail. He states, “We can reach the entire country by selling online. While selling offline we can hardly cover the entire city.”

Online fashion retail at its saturation point?

The experts may say the fashion category is bustling with life and continuous growth! But, some sellers are sceptical of this notion. They feel with the rise in demand there will be returns and the more one sells the greater will be his returns. This is what will keep the industry from moving ahead.

Ravi Bhesadadiya is an online seller who doubts the progress of the fashion category in online retail. He has been a part of online retail for 2 years straight and feels it’s the return policies that are holding this category back.

“Most of the sites have a 30 days return policy so customers use our products roughly for 20 days and return it after using it for their occasions. Most of sellers are tired of this. Return policy should be upto 10 days,” points out Ravi.

Ritesh M. the owner of Urban Vastra believes the fashion category has reached its peak online. It will either be constant or slow down due to policies against sellers, he tells IOS. Ritesh has been selling online for 4 years now and feels that online retail is just an additional channel, there are no other benefits in his opinion.

“With COD many buyers are inclined towards ordering and not cancelling if they change their mind. In this bargain the seller is the most affected. Another problem is buyers trying the product and not returning them in proper packing and hence damaging the product in transit,” Asad Virani mentions.

With online retail come concerns like unauthentic buyers and unnecessary product returns, Asad claims. And points out the benefits in online retail above, he is not thrilled about these drawbacks.

Online merchant, Bhavesh Balar, also feels online fashion retail will not move ahead. “Nowadays the level of trust in online customers is decreasing,” he puts it simply.

Sovit Mundhra is also an online sellers in the fashion category. He feels that sellers in his category are unable to effectively compete with other categories due to the lack of visual aids.

“Fashion has its biggest setback with the problem of fit. We expect better visual aids for fashion to compete with other categories,” states Mundhra.

The biggest reason for these sellers’ lack of faith in their category is the rise of product returns and their marketplaces’ inability to cure this. But even though some online sellers don’t feel the fashion category will take over Indian online retail, they still believe in the benefits of ecommerce. As for those betting on the fashion category’s future potential, they claim It’s just the policies and the general focus of online marketplaces that needs changing.

What do you think? Will online fashion retail take off like expected?

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