The online fashion industry in India may be dominated by players like Amazon and Flipkart, however for the brand conscious, buying from a platform that sells garden products too does not always compliment the sense of style. For those niche shoppers, Koovs, an online western clothing brand, is trying to fill the gap.
Helmed by Lord Waheed Alli, the Ex-Chairman of Asos.com, a British online fashion retail giant, which under his leadership, grew from a $4mn to a $3bn company within a span of 12 years, his mission is to build Koovs as one of India’s leading affordable western fashion destinations.
Cashing on the India promise
For this British politico, choosing India as its operational base was a decision based on careful deliberation. “The prime motivation of setting up in India, apart from the fact that I look Indian, my heritage is Indian and I feel like at home here, was also the fact that this is an economy and a culture that is growing here. Every issue in the country is about managing growth. There are many nations where your biggest issue is preserving your business and making sure you don’t go backward. But here, everybody is looking forward. Everybody has got something to do; everybody is doing things and all this makes it a lovely place to be in”, states Lord Alli.
While e-commerce players in India heavily rely on the discount led business model to drive sales, according to him this strategy is not going to last long and will hurt the online fashion ecosystem if it continues. In his words, “We know we are there for fashion and 98 per cent discount is not going to live for long. It is going to kill businesses. Without a doubt, since Amazon and Flipkart have come into the market, the climate they create — where everything is free and the way they make media prices go up, they are making it impossible for other businesses to grow,” he reveals.
Tackling Amazon, Flipkart and others
While India provides a great opportunity to online businesses given its sheer market size, it is also becoming a very competitive place for e-commerce players who are going to great lengths to stay ahead of each other.
Stating how Koovs has taken a different approach to steer clear of this rate race and win loyal customers, Lord Alli shares, “People are already talking about us in our target audience and that is good for us. I love Amazon, I think Jeff Bezos is an extraordinary man; however, people don’t want to wear a dress that comes from somebody that sells you the garden equipment. That dress is never going to be, no matter how nice it is, about fashion. We have spent four years doing it and we spent two years just making sure that we have a property online and making sure our logistics and service centers work. And what differentiates you in the market is fashion. I would say that we have to help customers shop like Big Bazaar but have a reputation of the Gucci brand.”
Despite the big cash burn by major e-commerce players, Koovs registered 11 per cent growth in full price sales and 25 per cent growth in brand recognition in the last one year. “I can’t fight in this marketplace in the way you probably need to grow that fast very quickly. I will have to do it slowly and I have to be smarter and technology is helping us do that”, adds Lord Alli.