Aditya Birla Group’s e-commerce portal abof, which is known for introducing athleisure fashion brand SKULT by Shahid Kapoor, will be soon launching Forerver 21 on its portal.
President and CEO abof.com, Prashant Gupta told Indiaretailing Bureau on the sidelines of India Fashion Forum 2017, “Currently, we have about 125 brands with us. Most likely, we will not grow this list a lot. We might add a couple of brands and we might delete a couple of brands. We might end up adding Forever 21 as a brand in next couple of months and equally we might drop a couple of other brands. In general, we have a view that 125-130 trial that we have is roughly the right range and assortment to be able to offer to the consumer.”
abof has an average ticket size of around Rs 1,400 and fastest moving category on the platform for men’s is T-shirts and for women’s it is tops and tees and kurtas ad kurtis. The overall share of private label is about 50 plus per cent – 40 per cent is abof and 10 per cent is SKULT.
The company, which is targeting convenience seeking millenials, is not focused on discounting its goods, but for the next 3-5 years, they will have to continue some discounting to stay in the game, Gupta said.
“We have always said that we will not use discounts as a lever to induce artificially some consumers and I think we have always stayed to that promise. There are two statistics to corroborate the point – nearly 50 per cent of the merchandise on the website is on full price and any retailer particularly in India as an e-tailer have certain assortment because it is all requires discount to be put on it and that is what is going on with us as well. For us 50 per cent is on full price and if you go to any other portals in most cases 20-30 per cent merchandise is available on full price. Second point, average level of discounting with us right now is 20-25 per cent whereas most of the competition operates at about 40 per cent average discounting. These two data points tell that we are far less discounting and it is not about not offering any discount what so ever, it is about not using discount as a lever to artificially induce demand and we will never indulge in that. And we stayed true to that promise,” revealed Gupta.
Instead of offering discounts, abof bets heavily on differentiation.
“Our view has always been about differentiation which is that can we do things that nobody else can and we have done both on the product assortment side and even on the services side we have tried to do things which makes us rather unique,” Gupta told Indiaretailing Bureau.
He further added, “So on the service side for example we offer free at home alteration, free blouse stitching services at home and things like that which nobody else offers and I think on the product side for example SKULT by Shahid Kapoor is India’s first athlesiure brand. The kind of products that you see in that brand – most of them are not available at any other portal in India. So our theme perpetually has been and going to be all about differentiation.”
Is Omnichannel on the Cards?
The online shopping player which delivers to around 8,000 pincodes has currently no plans to go Omnichannel. However, it debuted on Amazon last September.
According to Gupta, “Tie-up with Amazon is basically to list abof’s merchandise on Amazon because we felt that there is a certain consumer out there which is shopping for clothing on horizontal platforms like Amazon and we wanted to test the waters with that. Abof has been live on Amazon for last six months. But, we don’t see it as a major channel for us.”
“We do not have any plans to tap any other horizontal player as of now,” he further added.
Despite foraying outside its own portal, abof has no threat of loosing loyal customers to the competition.
“Different consumers behave differently. Sometimes consumers have their strong loyalties and stick to whatever brand they are familiar with and comfortable with. It is about figuring out what kind of consumer is going to be attracted to a proposition and then communicating with them and figuring out how you induce trial because once you induce trial with that segment in all likelihood, they will become loyal customers of yours because of the fact that you are able to fulfil that aspiration and promise that you made,” revealed Gupta.
But in terms of expansion, abof is looking forward to acquire new customers which should happen at the level of maybe 3x in next fiscal year. So the online fashion portal expects to grow about three times year-on-year basis.
Technology is the Way Forward
Technology holds a great importance in the success of any brand and stay ahead of the competition, abof is also leaving no stone unturned as far as leveraging technology is concerned.
“We have recently done a big technological investment. We have partnered with the IBM’s Watson which has the cognitive computing and AI capability and the product search on our platform is now powered by IBM’s Watson. So it is probably the most effective search engine in the country today in the fashion e-commerce and we hope to continue to make such innovative investments for the consumers,” concluded Gupta.