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 faballey.com 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, FabAlley.com
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