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6 digital-first brands that went physical

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These offline brands took the offline route to expand and reach a wider customer base

Mumbai: While online offers convenience, offline offers experience and today’s consumers want both, compelling several digital-first brands to transition into the physical world.

According to a 2022 report by Redseer, e-commerce in India is expected to grow three times the speed of offline. By 2026, online could account for more than 25% of sales in most categories, except grocery. This means the remaining 75% is still offline, which is where the opportunity lies say experts.

“Becoming a large brand is not possible if you restrict yourself to just a D2C or an online brand. That’s why we decided to play the retail game. First, because it is 90% of the market and second those who are competing with us are playing the retail game so we couldn’t just sit and not play the retail game,” Kaushik Mukherjee, co-founder of Sugar shared in a presentation on the brand’s growth journey at Phygital Retail Convention 2022. Read more about it here.

Experts feel that brands that started their journeys online will eventually have to move offline if they want to really scale and become national players as that is where the bulk of the customers are.

Having realised this early on, some brands like Nykaa already started their offline journey. Here we list new brands that have recently made their O2O transitions in alphabetical order.

  1. Force IX

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar launched his athleisure wear label Force IX in January 2023 on the ecommerce platform Myntra. The brand offers its men’s apparel range at an average price range of Rs 1,299-Rs 3,999, with plans to launch accessories in the future. The brand also plans to bolster its collection with the addition of women’s wear. It opened its first offline store in Mumbai at Linking Road, Bandra in April 2023 and is planning to open 9 more stores by the end of the year, as per a press release.

“The company is planning to open nine exclusive stores by the end of 2023, and to increase the footprint to over 200 stores in the country over the next few years,” Kumar said to media during the Mumbai store launch.

2. HRX

Founded in 2013, HRX (Hrithik Roshan Extreme) is a lifestyle and fitness brand jointly owned by Hrithik Roshan and Exceed Entertainment.

It offers a range of athleisure products including t-shirts, track pants, jackets, and tights, as well as sports accessories such as footwear, and backpacks for men and women.

The brand launched first on Myntra in November 2013 with an athleisure line for men.

In January 2023, the brand launched its first standalone store in Bengaluru followed by a store launch in Mumbai. The brand is planning to launch 12 more stores in 2023 across cities such as Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, and Pune.

3. Louis Stitch

Louis Stitch is a men’s fashion brand known for shoes and leather accessories. Founded in 2019, the brand sources material from Argentina, Russia, Egypt, and Germany. It has an India-wide presence through its website and leading e-commerce platforms like Myntra, Amazon, Flipkart, and Nykaa.

The brand recently entered the offline space in August 2023 by opening its first store at Ardee Mall, Gurugram.

“India being a fast-growing economy, still has its own inclination towards offline retail. For the category we are in, 85% of overall revenue for the industry comes from retail and 15% from online channels,” said Amol Goel, founder and chief executive officer of Louis Stitch.

“To scale beyond a point, the retail channel becomes indispensable; and across the globe, these metrics are almost similar. Besides the point of scaling up, it’s imperative that a brand can be felt and seen by the customers before buying or making any perception about the brand,” Goel added.

4. Nestasia

Launched in 2019, Nestasia, the brainchild of entrepreneur couple Aditi Murarka and Anurag Agrawal, has over 6,000 products in numerous key product categories including dining, kitchen, decor, bags and accessories, bath, soft furnishing, and stationery with new launches every fortnight. The brand gained popularity for its unique designs and quality offerings.

In 2023, Nestasia expanded its reach by opening its first offline store spread across 750 sq. ft., in Kolkata.

The launch of the store is part of the company’s omnichannel strategy and its goal is to establish a strong foothold in the brick-and-mortar segment with 40 stores nationwide by mid-2024, the company said in a press release.

Speaking about the online and offline store experience, Murarka said, “Offline stores can build a deeper connection with customers and foster greater loyalty than online websites. In contrast, online retailers often have to rely on other methods such as email marketing and social media engagement to build and maintain customer loyalty.

5. Superbottoms

Established in 2016 under the leadership of Pallavi Utagi, SuperBottoms emerged as a prominent online sustainable brand specializing in reusable cloth diapers and baby essentials. The brand’s core mission extends beyond providing for the needs of infants and toddlers – it advocates for the awareness and adoption of reusable cloth diapers throughout India.

The brand has a team primarily composed of parents, 90% of whom are mothers.

A significant milestone was achieved in November 2022 when the brand introduced its first physical presence in the form of a kiosk at Mumbai’s R City Mall. The brand products are currently available in department stores in Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala.

6. Tata Cliq

Owned by Tata Group’s subsidiary, Tata Unistore Ltd., Tata Cliq is a prominent Indian enterprise based in Mumbai. Launched in 2016, the brand offers a wide range of categories including fashion, footwear, accessories, etc. The group also expanded its horizons by launching Tata Cliq Luxury and Tata Cliq Palette offering premium luxury fashion and lifestyle products. Tata Cliq’s first physical store was opened in 2023 at Nexus Seawoods mall in Navi Mumbai.

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