Reading, binge-watching TV and scouting for new desserts are not phenomenal hobbies, but they are a few things, the extraordinary online womaentrepreneurShradha N Arangil enjoys very much when she’s not achieving greatness.
In celebration of this women’s day week, Indian Online Seller(IOS) caught up with the brilliant entrepreneur and an energetic young woman. She claims that like many online startups in Indian during 2014, hers began from a little spare bedroom at her house. For her, the thoughts of becoming an online seller came when she would shop from online sites abroad.
She noticed that it was impossible to find good clothes at a price that was pocket-friendly. At the time, Shradha was perusing her passion for technology as an engineer. But, she soon left her career in engineering and went after another obsession of hers that is fashion. With technical knowledge on her side and experience in business with the launch of 3 different magazines, Shradha thought of launching her own online business, Roving Mode (White Lilly Enterprise). Three months after she discussed her online retail dreams with her family, she received their blessings and full support to take the next step.
Let’s look deeper into her womaentrepreneur story and how she single handedly made a business worth lakhs.
IOS: How did your online retail career start?
The story of RovingMode began in the Year 2014. It took around 3 months of planning and speculating before the launch of RovingMode.com in March 2015. Within a couple of months, the brand went live on Amazon and Flipkart. Now RovingMode has its presence on almost all acclaimed online Marketplaces. As of now, we are live on Jabong, Limeroad, Voonik, Shopclues and Snapdeal.
IOS: Where did you draw your inspiration from to start selling online?
Way before Zara, Forever21 and H&M found its presence in the Indian market, it was almost impossible to find good quality dresses or tops that were stylish yet affordable, and that’s why I created RovingMode. The goal was to provide high-quality fashionable apparel at pocket-friendly prices.
IOS: What do you sell under your brand?
RovingMode is a global online fashion brand that offers a huge range of women’s fashion products including dresses, skirts, tops and resort wear. Our plan is to launch around 30 new curated styles every week, to keep the collection fresh and updated!
Our target audience is women between the ages of 16 to 30 years. And we offer them a range of casual and work wear items. We have a terrific collection of clothing and we offer only quality goods at affordable pricing.
IOS: What is it about online selling that excites you most?
Wow, there are so many things that excite me about selling online! But three things really stand out.
#1 – I think one of the most evident benefits of running an ecommerce business is the low overhead costs. This was a big advantage for me as I was working with very little start-up capital.
#2 – The other advantage of ecommerce is that you can sell your products globally and all with the help of a computer or a smartphone. Like many ecommerce start-ups, I started my business from the spare bedroom in my home, which would not be possible if I ran a brick and mortar store, where location is key.
#3 – On the flipside, the challenging part of selling online is that customers cannot experience the product before buying it. Especially with a fashion brand, where customers prefer to touch and feel an outfit before they buy it. Fortunately for us, I was able to establish trust and credibility with my customers by offering only highly curated pieces.
IOS: What is it like being a woman on the ecommerce scene running your own business? Is it different for men and women?
I would say it’s different but not all bad. Being a woman running my own tech-centric business had its pros and cons really. At first, a lot of people, including my closest friends wouldn’t take it seriously, and a few even called it a hobby! But the good thing is, less expectations from you means less pressure on you, which helps you focus on the positives. I think running my own business as opposed to having a 9to5 job gave me the flexibility to have a family life and still have a successful career.
Women have more responsibilities at home compared to men. But it’s easy to manage these if you work on your own time-table.
IOS: Do you call yourself a successful entrepreneur? What benchmarks do you need to reach to become a successful woman entrepreneur?
I’d say I’m fairly successful because of my ability to work hard and to go above and beyond for my customers.
Be comfortable with change
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to be comfortable with changing direction quickly. You can’t be too attached to results, you need to learn to evolve. Sometimes, you end up with something way better than you set out to accomplish.
Take risks & trust your instincts
Also, to be successful you need to trust your instincts and be comfortable taking risks. It is also very crucial to be financially aware. Avoid getting into debt early on in the business.
Be a leader
Lastly it’s important to be a leader and not a boss. Have good people on your team, keep them motivated and happy, because your business is only as good as your team.
IOS: To what do you owe your ecommerce success?
We initially started off with 2-3 sales a week and now we get on average around 20-25 sales every day.
I believe there are a couple of reasons why we were able to grow so quickly.
One is because right from the start of our business we invested in a good support team. What people don’t realise is the amount of backend work involved in running an online brand, which can be very overwhelming.
But, by teaming up with Browntape (an ecommerce solutions provider) to handle our:
- Product listing
- Inventory management
- Customer support
We were able to focus on our designs and production which is really the heart of our business.
Two is because we put our customer at the centre of everything we do. All our strategies are focused on customer needs and desires.
IOS: Is ecommerce a level playing field for women entrepreneurs?
It definitely is.
IOS: Are there specific challenges for women in online selling?
I don’t believe there are.
IOS: What are the top challenges you face when selling online? Did you overcome any? How?
Challenge 1– Visibility
The biggest challenge you face when selling online is visibility. The bigger brands spend a lot of money on ads and product placement and getting noticed is tough.
Solution: For my business this is still a work in progress. Since I have a budget constraint, I try to be a bit creative and leverage social media as a marketing channel. This is cheap and more effective.
Challenge 2 – Obtaining conversions
Once you’ve got the customers attention you face the challenge of converting them into sales. Since there is no touching and feeling the outfit, the next best option is to wow them visually.
Solution: I make sure we use only high-quality product images and also try to include feedback and pictures shared by previous customers. We have also understood the silhouette and cuts that sell better online.
Challenge 3 – Retaining customers
Next, we face the challenge of retaining them (customers).
Solution: At RovingMode.com we try to create the best customer experience. We ship the orders promptly, we follow an easy return and exchange policy and most importantly we try to introduce new pieces every month to keep our stock fresh and updated.
Challenge 4 – Staying current with latest trends
Finally, we face the challenge of staying updated and current.
Solution: This again is a work in progress. The internet is changing rapidly and so is the way we shop online. We interact with the customer through social media to get a better understanding of their wants are.
IOS: Do you encourage more women to come sell online? What advice do you have for them?
A 100%. I believe being a woman, we instinctively have a lot of qualities that do well in entrepreneurship like:
- Managing people
- Managing a budget
Starting your own business takes up a lot of your time, and being a woman and having a hectic lifestyle comes with a lot of self-guilt, especially for mothers, but by running an ecommerce business you have the luxury of working from the comfort of your home at your convenient time schedule!
All you need is an idea for a product, internet connection and a smartphone. The only advice I would give them is to create or join a support group with other women where they can share ideas/ collaborate on projects and also to stop surrounding themselves with people who constantly pull them down.
IOS: Do you think there is any mentality difference when it comes to men and women online sellers? What are these? How do they help you sell online?
Of course, there are quite a bit of differences in our mentalities. Women inherently have more patience than men. And, in the online business, patience is key! No matter how great your product is, converting online traffic into sales takes time. Also, in order to grow your online business it is important to research and understand your target customer. Since a large percent of online customers are women, it is easier for woman sellers to understand their perspective better.