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2016 was aggressive in terms of strengthening our fashion category: Arun Sirdeshmukh, Amazon Fashion Business Head

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Among everything sold online in India, the apparel industry has been the fastest growing sub-category, reaching a staggering 24 per cent of online users in the country. A report released by Google Inc. and A.T. Kearney in 2016 says fashion is expected to be the single largest product category in online retail by 2020, offering much higher margins than books and electronics.

2016 was aggressive in terms of strengthening our fashion category: Arun Sirdeshmukh, Amazon Fashion Business Head
An analysis by Technavio says that the online fashion retail market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR 64.87 per cent in terms of revenue over the period of 2014- 2019 and cashing in on this trend is e-commerce behemoth, Amazon

Even as e-commerce majors tie up with big fashion brands, they are becoming increasingly aware that launching their own private fashion labels is equally, if not more, lucrative. Private brands not only offer better margins to e-marketplaces compared with third-party brands but also enable them to lock in customers.

An analysis by Technavio says that the online fashion retail market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR 64.87 per cent in terms of revenue over the period of 2014- 2019. Cashing in on this trend is e-commerce behemoth, Amazon.

launched fashion in a full-fledged way only towards the end of 2014, catching up with rival Flipkart, which acquired two major fashion portals – Myntra and Jabong.

In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing Bureau, Business Head, , talks about their expanding fashion category and future plans.

What all is Amazon doing to expand its fashion category?

Amazon Fashion witnessed a steady growth this year with 2.3X YoY growth (in terms of units sold). 2016 has been an aggressive year for us in terms of selection and strengthening some of our important categories – we overall doubled our selection this year and added a series of top fashion brands in our already wide bouquet of 15,000 brands and 2 million fashion products. We can easily say we have the largest selection across almost all categories under fashion!

Since the start of 2016, Amazon Fashion has signed more than 150 fashion brands including Aeropostale, Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, Versus by Versace, and its growing selection includes CONFLUENCE by Swarovski, Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Furla, Replay, Fitflop and designers like Payal Pratap, Tarun Tahiliani, Monisha Jaysingh.

We now also offer the most comprehensive fashion selection for kids with the largest and the most organized selection of apparels. We recently launched Baby Shoe Store on Amazon Fashion as we think this is one of the most challenging product-lines that parents struggle with and we wanted to resolve this challenge for them. The Baby Shoe store caters to the age-group of 0-2 years with a selection from over 100 brands. Amazon.in now has a complete selection for baby products – whether its diapers (on Amazon.in) or lifestyle/fashion products, we have everything on one single platform.

Our precious jewelry selection and category is also now the largest in terms of selection with over 60 top regional and national reputed brands on our platform! We’ve also built a selection of seven international watch brands under a store called International Exclusives for our watch category. Amazon Fashion recently brought home to India a line-up of international watch brands exclusively on our platform with some of the top performing brands on Amazon.com in the U.S. including Burgi, Akribos XXIV, August Steiner and more for discerning Indian consumers.

Strengthening our portfolio of International brands further, we also recently added a selection from the iconic label, Bjorn Borg and also launched Drunknmunky along with Replay and Rockland luggage.

Have you hired any stylists / style consultants to aid you in revamping your fashion category?

To provide a more creative vision to our fashion store, it was imperative for us to have a specialist on board. We want every customer to find something on our fashion store that appeals and enhances his / her individual style every day. With an ace Indian fashion designer, Narendra Kumar on board as the Creative Director, we are deconstructing fashion for customers so that they are more involved and aware while making their fashion choices and thus make informed purchase decisions.

Our vision is to make Amazon Fashion the default fashion destination for customers in India who are empowered – through the detailed product / brand information, customer reviews, expert opinions, styling trends forecast, etc. – to make the right fashion choices confidently.

How important are fashion private labels for Amazon? What has been the customer response?

We have recently launched a couple of private labels in fashion – Symbol in September and then Myx – and are extremely delighted to see the customer response. We are an extremely customer centric company and our goal is to provide the widest selection to the maximum number of customers. We, therefore, are open to filling any need gaps in selection on our platform that will help in achieving this goal.

How has demonetization affected you, on the whole?

While we saw limited short-term impact due to the recent currency change announcement, we have received tremendous customer response in adopting electronic payment methods at delivery with 10x growth in electronic payments at the doorstep. We also reintroduced Cash on Delivery starting Nov 11th. Customers continue to value the vast selection, great value, and fast and reliable delivery on Amazon.in, and we are back to growing over 2X YOY.

Tell us about the brands that have been launched exclusively on Amazon in the past. What can we look forward to in 2017?  

We have over 70 exclusive brands in our kitty with the recent launch of Aeropostale this year exclusively on our platform. We have also partnered with Swarovski to bring their latest line called CONFLUENCE on our platform – which is a jewelry line by 11 top jewelry and fashion designers like Rohit Bal, Manish Arora, Amrapali and many more. Another recent addition to exclusive line-up includes nine international travel brands from Basecamp including top names like National Geographic, Pureland, Outsider, etc. Basecamp brings premium travel brands from across the world and this is the first time they have entered into an exclusive partnership with an online site to bring their entire branded portfolio on our platform.

We have introduced several other international brands like iconic label Bjorn Borg from Europe, Rockland Luggage and Drunkunmunky which are exclusively present on our platform in India.

We have also just launched an exclusive line of “My First Formals” by Van heusen and also introduced CANVAS line of men’s wallets and bags from iconic Indian brand – Hidesign. Arrow recently launched their line of “Smart shirts” with us exclusively which saw a huge spike in customer demand.

Under Kids Fashion, we have exclusives like Bubblegummers and British Knights and exclusive lines from Barbie and Spiderman to name a few. We will continue to build our exclusive portfolio as we go along.

This has all happened in 2016. For 2017 launches, you will just have to wait and watch.