Landmark Group’s youngest and most trending format, Easybuy, needs no introduction. The brand, since its inception, has been on a growth spree. The brand started its journey in 2014 with a clear mission to serve Neo-India, the biggest consumer segment of India, who are very aspirational and yet value seeking. Easybuy opened its first store in Karimnagar, in Telangana, to test the format and received an excellent response. The rest, as they say, is history.
With a mission to make aspirations affordable for the entire family, the fastest growing value fashion retailer is poised to cross the milestone of fastest 100 stores by 2020.
In an exclusive interaction with IMAGES Retail, Anand Aiyer, SVP & Business Head – Easybuy (Max Retail Division), talks about the successful journey, objectives and future plans of the brand.
Why and how, in your opinion, is value retail fashion emerging as a high profit business?
The ‘why’ has got a lot to do with the pace, quality and amount of exposure that Neo-India has access to. The penetration of internet coupled with a natural upward social mobility is affecting tastes and preferences across all categories and fashion is not an exception.
While customers have started to want and ask newer and trendier styles of fashion, they still expect it not to cost them a lot. This dichotomous yet justifiable pattern in behavior is seen across large parts of India but has very limited supply currently available to such a demand. Thus, the potential of value fashion is exponentially high across the country which reflects in Easybuy’s success journey.
Profitability in value fashion is purely a derivative of efficiency across the value-chain and not just by volumes. Because it is very complex to achieve, only a handful of Indian players have managed to achieve it and we are one among them.
How do you design a customer-centric price strategy?
Our whole proposition is centered around two key consumer needs – aspiration and affordability. We are a format launched for Neo-India shoppers and we bring ‘super styles’ at‘super prices’ which are 25-30 percent lesser than the closest competition. Understanding our customers and what they want has been key in creating our pricing strategy. This in depth understanding has been married to a very unique fibre-to-fashion ecosystem that we have built, involving multiple stakeholders who are cost conscious but non-compromising in their respective outputs. With such an efficient and integrated eco-system, our products are of international standard quality, but at ‘super prices’ leading to a winning customer-centric pricing strategy
What is your store size? What are your expansion plan?
Our average store size is 5500 sq. ft. We are currently reaching our first milestone 100 stores this year and plan to reach 200 stores in next two years.We will continue to add 50 store every year.
Where all in India do you see your brand spreading to apart from South?
It would not be correct to say that South India is not even ‘reasonably’ penetrated. The over-arching intention of our expansion plan is to be present in every district headquarters in India and there are still a lot of district headquarters that are left to be explored within south India itself. Currently the expansion in South India is on auto-pilot mode and we will continue to strengthen our presence further in south India. However, we are growing even faster in the rest of the country as well – we entered East India this year with three stores in Orissa & two in West Bengal and will continue to strengthen our presence in this region. We are also setting our foot in North India and plan to aggressive expand in this market as well.
Is the value fashion market in India lean or agile?
Value fashion market is always dynamic and ever changing. To be successful & to respond to changing consumer behavior,agility is a key quality that value fashion retailers need to have to take advantage of economies that could come their way. To be lean is a choice that leaders of markets need to make. It is highly dependent on the business model. Easybuy is a classic example of ‘being lean with an approach of less is more, but very agile to ensure customer needs are met on time’
Explain Easybuy’s logistics and supply chain end of the business to us.
We currently work with two warehouses based out of Bengaluru, Ghaziabad and will be adding facilities in Kolkata this year apart from expanding existing space as well. We have invested in technology to support robust operations. Through our “dynamic replenishment system”, orders get generated everyday and products are dispatched automatically, replenishing at style, color and size level. Agility in supply chain is critical given our major presence in small towns where logistics lead time is more. Easybuy stores are also powered with ‘stylus’ which gives real time data on the availability of stocks, not only in the back room but at a nearby store too to satisfy consumer needs. Our Warehouse operations are outsourced to third parties withsupervision by Easybuy and we also provide them with quality training and ample incentives to ensure efficiencies.
What is your merchandising strategy? How does your supply chain compliment the strategy?
Easybuy has built a full-fl edged fibre-tofashion eco-system through identifying MSMEs and built a supply chain system through nurturing them to become exclusive partners for Easybuy, thereby enabling SMEs to grow with us. This ensures constant & quality supply to all our stores. With such a strong backend, Easybuy truly is 100 percent made in India and made for India. Thus, we always ensure Super styles at Super prices at all times.
Easybuy doesn’t do vanilla products, even our basics are “One Up basics” value added through trims, styling, embellishments, etc. In short, we deliver value added “in-style” product at 25 percent lower than competition and this is a clear differentiator and winner. Our promise is to give customers 1000+ styles from `69 to `699. Our in—house efficient Design team curates and customizes the international trends relevant to market needs through fi t, style, colors, silhouette, etc. Easybuy’s great innovation in the whole back-end integration, supply chain, technology, in-trend merchandise, sharp pricing enables a winning combination to the Neo-India customers.
Share with us the marketing and promotional strategies of the brand?
While, it takes years to build a brand, Easybuy has been able to develop a strong sense of loyalty among its shoppers in a short span of by ensuring aspirational needs are met. We speak the language our shoppers speak, and we are present in media which shoppers spend their time. Simply put, we are trying to be part of the many touch-points our shoppers go through in their day-to-day lives. Role of marketing at Easybuy is to enable our potential & existing shoppers discover Easybuy in its true form and join our journey to making Neo-India’s aspirations affordable.
To make this happen, we engage with local communities with activities which are at grass-root level developing a true bond with the brand. For example, kids’ category being one of our biggest attractions, we partner with ‘aspirational characters’ every year during April-May and bring those merchandise to local communities at costs they can afford. Along with merchandise, we provide our shoppers with Branded consumer gifts, exciting activities engaging with their favorite characters and so on. We worked with Warner Bros in the past and working now with Disney to make this happen at a national scale and this is just one example of the many campaigns we do.
We are also very conscious of our shopper’s preferences be it communicating in regional languages or being present in the right media vehicle Neo-India reads or clicks. Our digital focus is increasing rapidly to engage with our shoppers through social media and also to enable local communicates to discover us digitally when we open new stores in new markets. We also launched our ‘Digital First Initiative’ called ‘Face of Easybuy’ last year for the local communities and the winning kids of ‘Face of Easybuy’ event participated in our actual Brand photoshoot showcasing Easybuy products and will be our faces for the upcoming season launch.
Share with us the operational structure of the brand. What steps are you taking to be an Omnichannel brand?
Easybuy follows the ethos of the Landmark group. We are part of the Max retail division but operate as a standalone business unit. Our internal structure is built to compliment the uniqueness of our model and has been working very well, given that we have created an eco-system involving MSME partners and franchise partners We, being a very young brand with just over 4 years of operations, our biggest focus continues to be the expansion into every district headquarters of India. We will cross 100 stores in 2020 and aim to open 200 stores by 2022. We are considering going Omni, but very conscious of when and how. Omni will take shape through some of the key parameters such us our own Offline presence, capabilities in terms of supply chain, technology etc. There is a roadmap that is being laid out to become a well-established name in the value fashion space. If that requires to become an Omnichannel brand earlier than expected, we will move towards being one.