2011 has been great for online retail in India as it witnessed series of investments and emergence of innovative business models across diverse categories like baby product, cosmetics, foot wear, stationary and eye care. Interestingly, accessories online retailing have given good support to key categories like Fashion apparel and led to remarkable growth of online overall. During later part of 2011 the industry witnessed debut of sportsnest.com, a niche category e-tailer in sporting gears, which seems to have the right ammunition to lead the category. In order to know more about sportsgear category player, SportsNest, iamwire caught up exclusively with Sanjay Rao, Director – sportsnest.com. Below are the excerpts of the interaction
SportsNest has a panel of sportspersons who mentor consumers before buying sporting gears, so tell us in what ways they are helping consumers at large?
Look, our focus is to sell the products along with ample knowledge about the gears we are selling to consumers. For example, we have some renowned names of former/existing sports persons who suggest and counsel buyers on what to buy by looking at specific needs such as fitness stage, age, health etc. In fact, sports education in India currently is not adequate, hence we decided to offer seamless experience to consumers through our experts. Vijay Bhardwaj, former member of Indian cricket team along with other personalities from diverse disciplines of sports are the counseling experts with SportsNest.
SportsNest has recently raised undisclosed amount of fund from Blume Ventures that typically fund not more than $ 250k. Please, throw some light on size of fund raised?
The fund raised by SportsNest from Blume Venture is beyond $ 250,000, that’s what I can say on the size of fund. The utilization of the fund would be focused on inventory, content generation as we are looking to offer high quality videos and photographs for the end consumers. For content generation we are setting up our own studio and other infrastructure required. A part of fund raised would also be splurged on IT development and enablement including strengthening the customer support.
What is your marketing mix? Are you looking to go for TV commercials also?
On marketing front, currently, we are focused on digital and Radio as we see high level of engagement in these two mediums without burning huge funds. We do not intend to go after TV commercials in short term because the present focus is largely on metros and tier 1 cities that have seen significant internet and mobile penetration. Meanwhile, we are also leveraging Social Media Marketing for effective customer reach.
What is your team size? Are you looking to expand your work force?
At present we have a team of 20 professionals, however, we would be hiring people in Customer support aggressively.
What numbers of SKUs SportsNest has at present and what strategies you have in place to achieve the 25,000 SKUs that you claim to achieve in near future?
As of now, the inventory has 6,500 SKUs addresses. We do not follow any specific set of strategies to add SKUs; however, our focus is to become a market leader in this space. So we are working closely and aggressively to bring more brands and range with us.
Throw some light on logistics and warehouses capabilities of SportsNest.
On logistics front we have tied up with third party logistic players that also take care of our warehousing part. Currently, we operate through two warehouses located in Bangalore and Delhi. However, we have plans to have three more warehouses in Chennai, Hyderabad and one in West Bengal.
Please share some of the opportunities that SportsNest is excited about in sports gear retailing and how has been the growth since the launch?
India consumers are gradually becoming more aware about fitness and sports, consequently they are set to spend significantly high on sporting gears now. However, there is a wide gap between demand and supply of sports related equipments in the country. We at SportsNest are trying to balance the demand and supply scenario as we believe there is huge potential in this category and it will witness growing competition. As far as growth is concerned, it is very early to say anything; however, we closed around 700 transactions during last three weeks and receiving good orders from smaller cities like Sangli in Maharashtra.
What are the challenges in this category and how do you plan to deal with them?
Look and feel is the biggest challenge in this category as consumers want to feel/try the gears before actual purchase. However, we at SportsNest are trying to showcase demo products service to the consumers to address their concerns, which will be launched this year. Under this service, consumers can order multiple products and choose one that suit their requirements and rest demo products would be shipped back to us.
What would be your suggestion to the entrepreneurs and start-ups in this category?
The main thing entrepreneurs have to bring on table is consumer satisfaction along with domain expertise. E-tailing of sporting gear is a very promising category and majority of the new entrants would be specialty e-tailers.