In 1967, there were only department stores that were selling kidswear as part of their entire portfolio. Then, H G Daswani realised the opportunity in the kidswear segment and introduced Little Shop in New Market, Kolkata, hub of the retail business, for the discerning customers to buy almost everything for their little stars.
Shiv Daswani, Partner, Little Shop best describes the Little Shop “It is a generic name and the first choice for people who want to shop anything for their kids.” The USP of the brand is that it provides best products for kids in an international environment at best price and at most strategic locations where a customer cannot afford to overlook the store that make the brand stand apart.
Daswani shares that he enjoys being in the business of kidswear retailing as Little Shop is making life easier for parents by providing them all options for kids under one roof. Another thing that he really cherishes is seeing smile on the faces of kids when they enter their stores—which is truly irreplaceable. The Little shop serves a wide kidswear category, from newborn to infant 0-12 months and 2-12 years in both boys and girls. The range starts from Rs. 99 and goes up to Rs. 999.
The occasional ethnicwear or ball gown range is slightly more expensive. The top selling categories are diapers and toiletries followed by toys. Known as one-stop-shop for kids shopping, Little Shop has an array of celebrated kids labels but Gini and Jony, Ruff, Barbie, Little Kangaroos and Toffy House are the top five performing brands. Daswani reveals that if a brand wants to retail at Little Shop then the product must be at par with most products available at the store. The products needs to be of the highest standard. Also, the brands must take into account that Little Shop is a value for money store, hence it is important that the product justifi es the price. For Little Shop the top five cities are Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Gurgaon.
For the 48 years old brand also has a private label, Star introduced for both infants and kids apparel all the way up to 12 years. While sharing the sales split between private labels and ex-house brands he says “Brands account for 90 percent of our kidswear sales, whereas our private label Star accounts for the balance 10 percent.” When asked to share the future plans for Star The partner of the kids retail brand share that private labels for most retailers are just to boost profitability and Little Shop believes in doing what they are best at, which is retailing.
There is no second opinion that online is emerging as a powerful tool and to optimise the opportunity, the brand made its foray into the e-commerce space in in August 2012. Littleshop.in was introduced to provide a platform to customers all over India to shop from the convenience of their own home. Daswani discusses about the synergies they have achieved through the launch of Littleshop.in “We have managed to make a significant presence by providing the elaborate product categories online. Now, the exactly same quality and pricing is available online across the country.” So far under fi ve percent of brand’s entire business comes from the online model and Little Shop expects to grow that exponentially.
Online retailing for kids apparel has both, challenges and opportunities. Competing with the biggies seems to be a new challenge as most of them have deep pockets, huge money to spend and a long term vision to eradicate competition. But Little Shop’s intention is different. They are here to serve customers, and are constantly striving to do the same. Having said that, the market is huge and there is space for everybody to survive.
Daswani discusses the layout and design aspects of brick and mortar stores. At Little Shop, the layout of store is carefully thought out after a research of trends and interests prevalent in the area. “For example, we sell different products at various stores. Our Forum store sells a different variety from our Howrah store. Also, the products in the window, layout of display of racks, percentage of garments to non garments, designing of our stores all keep into account the market preferences of the area,” discloses Daswani.
As per him, it is important to incorporate technology in brick and mortar format. And Little Shop keeping the current retailing trends in mind is exploring the various options. The brand believes that technology allows the minutest details of buying patterns to be monitored. Commenting on the future expansion plans, Daswani shares that with the brick and mortar stores, Little Shop will stay restricted to Kolkata in the near future. However, in the online space, the brand plans to increase its offering and compete on various aspects including service and price.
He further shares his views on the future of the kidswear category in India and informs that kidswear is a huge market in India. “There are diverse tastes prevalent across the country and as a result not many have been able to be successful across various states. There is a huge opportunity for brands, whether local, national and international in this space. In a nutshell, the more the merrier,” concludes Daswani.