Many ecommerce entities would agree that clothing was one such retail area, that most were sceptical about as to whether it will work or no on an online platform. After all people love to touch, try, feel and sashay around before buying garments. To make the same people buy apparel online was going to be nothing less than a mammoth task was a common knowledge.
However, miraculously Indian Online Shopping sites have managed to break this barrier. They have somehow convinced shoppers to gamble with online apparel shopping.
Here are some facts to support that:
- A survey conducted by Baggout in 2014 revealed that Clothes and Footwear were the two most popular categories in Fashion
- Apparel is one of the three most sold product category in Indian e-commerce industry.
- According to a news report published on ETRetail.com, apparel sales continue to own the largest share in online retail pie and are the fastest growing sector.
- in published that in 2014 apparel and accessories worth INR 3354 crore ($559 million) were sold online. And the figure is expected to reach Rs 16,800 crore ($2.8 billion) by 2016!
In Focus: Clothing
Latest advertisement of Online Biggies that has hit television, print & social media also indicate that portals are investing specifically on apparel sales driven strategies. The latest Amazon TVC features a woman who dons multiple looks, right from smart office wear to elegant wedding attire, from casual dungarees to cute shorts. This ad aims at embedding ‘Amazon Fashion’ in every viewer’s find. And fortunately it is effective just like Amazon’s Kindle TVC. The move to standout as an Online Fashion destination does comes across as a surprise in a good way since Amazon sells everything under the sun.
Close to the heels is Snapdeal who also has been pushing Apparel and other fashion products in their promotional activities and advertisements. And as for Jabong and Myntra, their positioning strategy has always been to be known as an apparel & fashion destination.
What Caused the Rise?
Manish Pandey, an avid shopper shares, “I buy only premium brands which were initially not available online. Now that many reputed garment brands sell online, it is the most feasible option for me since I am already familiar with their sizes and fits, with the added benefit of discounts. ”
Now online portals are competing to get bigger brands and designers under their umbrella. For instance, Amazon joined hands with The Closet Label, a signature online venture styled by Malaika Arora Khan. Jabong and Myntra sell designer clothes crafted by Manish Arora, Vikram Phadnis, Satya Paul, Karan Johar and Rohit Bal besides hosting International brands like Mango, Vero Moda, Aldo and Super Dry.
Better Deals and Discounts
Online shopping thrives on sales and discounts. To name a few there was Flipkart’s The Big Billion Day Sale, Snapdeal’s Diwali Bumper Sale, and End of Season Sale by almost all portals. Need we say more?
Better Price Category
While there are acclaimed brands, ecommerce is also giving an opportunity to new sellers & designers to sell their wares. This allows etailers to give a wide range of options to buyers. Take the case of Rushal Mansing who recently took the risk of ordering a pack of boxer shorts from a new seller rather than the more expensive but known brand. The gambled paid off as he said, “I found the shorts fit me better and were more comfortable. Not to mention much lighter on my pocket. ”
Win Win situation for all three: buyer, seller and online retailers.
Better Return Policy
This is one of the biggest reasons why people buy clothes online; the ease of returning goods. If not for flexible and hassle free return policy, online apparel sales would have never picked up.
How Does The Future Look Like?
Based on the growth of Online Shopping, future of online clothing sale looks very bright. Statistics mentioned in the beginning also indicate that people are taking risks and buying clothes online. The rise in Indian women shoppers coupled by the huge demand for trendy clothes will fuel this segment.
But if online players continue to work on ‘Discount’ and ‘Highest Number of Products’ model depending on investors’ money then the business will soon be unsustainable.
The race to be on top by giving unbelievable discounts and innumerable products often leads to disappointment for all the parties involved. Strong signs that bring forth pitfalls related to discount driven model based on this news report can be seen as follows:
- Rise in delivery blunders
- The strain to host big sale events and backlash that follows when unable to deliver the promise
- Huge pressure felt by manufactures and suppliers to increase discount margin as the burden of discounts gets transferred to sellers.
- Inefficient supply chain and logistics management
- Influx of unreliable sellers and brands due to marketplace model
- Dwindling brand value of once highly reputed online retail brands
- Poor customer service
- Serious concerns raised by established brands about ‘dissolving their brand value’ due to huge discounts
All the above dangers are now being brushed under the carpet because online retailers have managed to sustain till now. The big sales figure and buzz created has also managed to rope in more investors and funding. But the question is for how long? The pile will soon turn into a mountain if issues are not addressed now. Customers are fine paying a premium price but they want good product, and customer service. Investors want good returns. And sellers/suppliers want fair margins and low burden of discounts.