The ecommerce momentum in India continues to gain ground. The latest off the block is Bangalore-based Voylla Retail, which has launched Voylla.com, an ecommerce site that sells women’s apparel designed by Indian designers such as Anita Dongre, Raj Shroff and Lina Tipnis. The startup plans to raise capital later this year and intends to expand its product offerings to include accessories, fashion jewellery and menswear.
Voylla’s founders — Raj Uparkar and Vishwas Shringi — earlier spent six years in retail at Amazon.com and 15 years in the technology sector at various companies. The duo founded Voylla.com in December 2011. Both completed their BTech from IIT Bombay and Madras, and MS and MBAs from the US before starting their careers.
Voylla features clothes categorised under western wear, ethnic wear, casual wear and Indo-western wear and claims to get 300 unique visitors per day. “We plan to garner merchandising revenue by creating customized pages for individual designers. We don’t intend to advertise off-site designers or merchants on our website to maintain its clean look,” Uparkar told StartupCentral in an email interview. He adds that the site differentiates itself from others by stocking inventories so it reaches customers faster. “We deliver (from time of order to time of doorstep delivery) in two to four days. However, we claim on our website that it takes five to seven days to provide a conservative estimate,” Uparkar says, adding that Voylla’s competitors could take weeks to dispatch because they do not stock products. Shipping is free on orders above Rs 300. On orders below Rs 300, the company charges Rs 30. Currently, the charges are the same for online and cash-on-delivery payments, but the company plans to offer discounts to incentivize online payments.
Voylla works with its designers to make its clothes wearable with slight modifications to designs; these changes also bring the price points down to one-half or one-third that of ramp walk designs, Uparkar says. On international expansion, he says that the site wants to establish itself first in India before considering other markets. “Expanding our geographical footprint would involve not just expanding our logistical capability, but also changing our product set and marketing efforts,” he says.
Reliability of logistics, high advertising costs and building customer trust are key challenges the enterprise seeks to address. Uparkar mentions that courier services are struggling with the surge in supply and do not follow modernized ways to deal with the rise in complexity and bulk of their operations. “Reliability and accountability is low. Not all personnel in courier companies seem to understand that when they commit to a delivery time, they are actually supposed to deliver within that time. We pre-emptively follow-up with courier companies regarding our packages in an attempt to prevent shipping delays so that our customers don’t have to wait.”
The practice of using cash-on-delivery exacerbates the issue and Uparkar says it is tougher because of the operational complexity and costs of moving cash around. “Transferring cash physically is more inefficient than moving it electronically through the banking or credit card system since it involves consolidating the cash in a collection centre, reconciling it with all the orders, data entry, depositing it in the courier’s local bank account and then remitting it back to the merchant, he says. Apart from delivering the product, the courier company has to carry out all these operations and collect and deliver the cash for a cash-on-delivery order. Voylla claims that more than half their orders are on cash-on-delivery basis and it hasn’t seen too many refusals of payment situations yet.
Image Courtesy: Voylla