Rahul Narvekar, CEO, Indianroots.com discusses the journey, philosophy and future plans of the ethnic and designer wear online brand.
Indianroots.com, an NDTV venture came last year to connect and reconnect Indians to their roots. The e-commerce portal offers a diverse product category from designer wear to designer labels and accessories for men and women. It also has home and living range including collections like decor, home linen and stationary. The CEO shares more about the Indian ethnicwear label.
Indianroots.com is an NDTV venture in partnership with India’s best designers and fi nest craftsmen. How would you define the philosophy of the brand?
Indianroots.com is a curated marketplace for handcrafted products for the global Indian. We travel across the country to bring together some of the best Indian designers, finest traditional weaves and the brightest Indian colours to connect Indians to their roots. NDTV has major equity and I have minor equity in Indiaroots.com.
What is the story behind Indianroots?
After exiting Fashionandyou.com I was on a sabatical and then connected with NDTV which was looking at enterring the designer wear and ethnicwear space with a differentiated offering. Looking at the landscape we decided to create a niche and founded Indianroots.com last year in 2013.
What makes Indianroots different than other existing fashion portals?
Our DNA, positioning and offering are at the premium end of the market. The ASP (average selling price) is Rs10,000 as opposed to the 1,200 of other players.
Who are the ideal Indianroots customers?
I would say Indianroots is for people who appreciate handcrafted, handmade artisan products.
Indianroots.com offers almost everything to their customers, from designer wear to designer labels, accessories and home living collections. How did you decide on such an elaborate product category?
We looked at the need of the customer and then decided to offer as much as we can curate in thie category. Basically, there are no credible players who are selling designer wear to Indians outside India. Even within India, if you look at ethnicwear and designers wear there are small mom and pop shops who are not doing that great. Ethnicwear market in India it is $11billion opportunity. Also, ethnicwear and designer wear have to be treated separately which is what we are about. This is the challenge of existing e-commerce portals like Flipkart, Amazon, Jabong and others. They are selling all kinds of stuff which is not the right positioning for the handcrafted and designer product.
What role does Indianroots.com play when designers and brands are working on the collections and trends for the season?
We help provide trends and analytics across global markets. Indianroots.com also has team of people who are from the premium designing institutes like NID and NIFT. They work on the trends.
E-commerce is one of the most powerful tools today. But brick and mortar and e-commerce, both have their own opportunities. Do you plan to come up with an Indianroots store in near future?
Yes, we will be setting up franchisee stores by the next year, 2015. We will start with the US and gradually scale it to Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and tier -II cities.
What are your views on the consumer buying behaviour in ethnicwear category?
Suddenly ethnicwear is in! People are flaunting saree at black tie events in cities like New York and London. The customers are looking at signature conversation pieces which are unique, exclusive and not mass.
What would you comment on the challenges and opportunities for online ethnicwear category?
The biggest challenge is perception. People are happy to pay lakhs of rupees for a handcrafted handbag from Italy because it can be displayed ostentatiously. However, they are not willing to pay a few thousand for a handcrafted, handmade piece of art from their own country. Online opportunities are immense as it is growing at a rapid pace.
What is your marketing and promotional strategy to strengthen an ethnicwear online portal?
We keep our marketing very tight and specifi c. We do more of social media and targetted content. Our blog has huge viewership and we are using content to drive commerce.
Which are the best performing cities? Also, does spending power vary from city to city?
Our largest markets are USA, India, Canada, UK, Australia and Middle East. India with minimal marketing is almost 45 percent of our numbers now.
What are your growth and expansion plans for future?
We have got our learnings right and October has been a blockbuster month, we did about eight crores of sales this month. Now we intend to focus on opening franchisee stores, launch the mobile app and go deeper into communities.