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A re­tail jour­ney: Fab Al­ley The shift from On­line to Off­line Mar­ket is Or­ganic for Re­tailer

In 2012, two friends, Shivani Pod­dar and Tanvi Ma­lik quit their high­pay­ing jobs in Unilever and Ti­tan In­dus­tries re­spec­tively, to ful­fil their en­tre­pre­neur­ial dream…

In 2012, two friends, Shivani Pod­dar and Tanvi Ma­lik quit their high­pay­ing jobs in Unilever and Ti­tan In­dus­tries re­spec­tively, to ful­fil their en­tre­pre­neur­ial dream…, and thus a fast fash­ion brand FabAl­ley was cre­ated. “When we be­gan, there was a big gap in the re­tail mar­ket, where fash­ion-for­ward brands were not pocket-friendly and do­mes­tic brands were mostly In­doWestern. Our thought was to bring in a brand which could com­pete with de­sign­er­wear and global aes­thet­ics, but make it avail­able at affordable prices,” shares Shivani Pod­dar, Co-founder, FabAl­ley. Know­ing that re­tail in In­dia is quite chal­leng­ing from an off­line point of view, they thought to open an on­line plat­form which would reach any­where in the coun­try at the price point they were tar­get­ing, so fabal­ was cre­ated as the mar­ket­ing and sell­ing plat­form.

“What got us go­ing was the huge gap in the mar­ket and the in­crease in in­ter­net us­age by our tar­get au­di­ence. Having been cus­tomers our­selves for long, we knew that there were not many brands cater­ing to the needs of young in­de­pen­dent work­ing women,” she adds.

Ini­tially, they started and kept a firm check on what styles and prices were work­ing and slowly started build­ing on that. In past six years, FabAl­ley has grown to be a com­plete end-to-end wom­enswear brand, “Our idea now is to make FabAl­ley a one-stop so­lu­tion brand for women be­tween the age 22-35,” shares Shivani. Their main strat­egy was to do small vol­umes and move it around fast so that sourc­ing won’t be a chal­lenge. “Es­sen­tially, we make say 100 pieces of a style and if it works well, we in­crease the vol­ume and sell it for 6-8 months. If it does not work, we sell the ex­ist­ing pieces and re­move the stock,” ex­plains Shivani. To­day with big­ger vol­umes and grow­ing busi­ness, they source from China, Lud­hi­ana and Su­rat.

She fur­ther adds, “We started with small vol­umes, we used to do 50-100 or­ders a day, we had our ven­dor tie-ups in place, so vol­umes were never an is­sue, since then we have dou­bled our busi­ness ev­ery year.” How­ever, though the vol­umes were not a prob­lem, in on­line busi­ness, sizes and re­turns are. “On­line re­turns can go up to 25 per cent. A re­tailer needs to have a fur­bish­ing cen­tre to redo the re­turned pieces to go back into the stock. In our case, once the pieces come back to us, we send them to the fin­ish­ing cen­tre, where the piece will go through re­fin­ish­ing, and then only it would come back to our in­ven­tory,” Shivani af­firms.

The busi­ness model com­pletely de­pends on what’s sell­ing aka the prod­uct. To en­sure qual­ity, the team keeps a strict qual­ity con­trol not only on their gar­ments but also on the fab­ric, trims and ac­ces­sories too. Shivani in­forms, “We do our sam­pling in-house, and ev­ery­thing that goes into a gar­ment – fab­rics, prints, trims, and ac­ces­sories – are ini­tially sourced by us and con­verted into a sam­pling vol­ume and then given to the ven­dors for ac­tual pro­duc­tion.”

To pen­e­trate the mar­ket bet­ter, they also took the route of sell­ing through dif­fer­ent plat­forms like Jabong, Myntra and Flip­kart. Fur­ther, they delved into shop-in-shop mod­ules. Shivani shares, “The thought of get­ting into a shopin-shop mod­ule was to in­crease our reach. It takes any brand at least 2-3 years to reach mul­ti­ple cities whereas the shop-in-shop mod­ule helped us to reach quicker and from an in­vest­ment point of view, it’s more economical for the busi­ness.”

Two years back, they started their sec­ond brand, Indya, which is a fu­sion brand. The thought be­hind the brand is to democra­tise de­sign­er­wear and high street. “With Indya, we are pro­vid­ing de­signer fu­sion­wear at affordable prices. It has now be­come 40-45 per cent of our busi­ness,” avers Shivani. Indya has made its first foray into Ex­clu­sive Brand Out­lets (EBO) with 5 own-stores in Delhi, Chennai and Ban­ga­lore. “When con­sumers see an EBO, they con­sider you a big na­tional brand. Now as we are grow­ing, our busi­ness EBO’s are help­ing us to do just that. From a rev­enue point of view, off­line busi­ness has a greater share of the rev­enue and hence it makes sense for our busi­ness to use both the chan­nels,” Shivani adds.

Be­liev­ing fast fash­ion is what will drive the fu­ture, she rea­sons, “As we see it, in com­ing times, it’s not go­ing to be about whether some­one is buy­ing on­line or off­line, it is go­ing to be about buy­ing the brands you love. There is no dif­fer­ence in dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels per se. What the cus­tomer sees on­line, they want it in the store also; and what they see in the store, they also want to buy the same on­line. Soon there would be no dis­tinc­tion be­tween an on­line and off­line pres­ence, it’s an or­ganic shift from one chan­nel to an­other for the busi­nesses.”

About 18 months back, spot­ting an­other gap in the re­tail in­dus­try, the com­pany launched a plus-size la­bel called ‘Curve’, where sizes start from XL to 4XL. “The thrust for ‘Curve’ has been the non-avail­abil­ity of plus size gar­ments in women west­ern­wear. We are giv­ing stylish West­ern­wear to plus size women and in 18 months, it has be­come 10 per cent of our rev­enue,” ex­plains Shivani. In past six years, with three brands to their credit, the com­pany is doubling its busi­ness ev­ery year and for them, the fu­ture looks even brighter. Re­cently, they have raised Rs. 5 crore in ven­ture debt from Tri­fecta Cap­i­tal which they are plan­ning to use in ex­pand­ing their off­line pres­ence around the coun­try with 25 new stores of their eth­nic brand Indya. “FabAl­ley is the on­line first brand for us with some off­line pres­ence and Indya is an off­line first brand with some on­line pres­ence as we are de­vel­op­ing an om­nichan­nel strat­egy,” said Shivani. The fu­ture also means deeper pen­e­tra­tion into Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where re­tail is just start­ing to gain mo­men­tum. “Right now our stores are in Met­ros, but in com­ing times we are looking to open stores for Indya, across the coun­try. The strat­egy be­hind it is sim­ple, to en­ter all pos­si­ble cities and de­velop a wider cus­tomer base. Since the brand is new, we are opt­ing for mid-size stores to see what trends and de­signs are work­ing and we will take it for­ward from there,” con­cludes Shivani.

Shivani Pod­dar (L) and Tanvi Ma­lik, Co-founders, FabAl­

Mil­lions of cus­tomers are shop­ping ev­ery day on on­line sell­ing plat­forms like Myntra and

Jabong, for brands start­ing new or looking

to in­crease their cus­tomer

base and pen­e­trat­ing a dif­fer­ent mar­ket; th­ese are the best places to show­case the prod­uct to a wider range of cus­tomers. Ev­ery busi­ness can ben­e­fit from this mar­ket­ing


FabAl­ley cater­ing to the needs of young in­de­pen­dent work­ing women

Indya is a fu­sion brand which democra­tises de­sign­er­wear and high street

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