There are many popular online retailers in the Indian online space currently that are creating tough competition. Yet there is another contender that has come up. Shoplik.com is a Delhi based online retailer that launched in late December 2012.
The company aims to offer culturally diverse products, already having more than 12,000 products and over 200 brands. They have come up in horizontal space of Apparels, Electronics, Books. It is founded by Jitender Singh, Vikram Singhand Shakti Singh, who have backgrounds in real estate, IT and finance respectively.
Is it late for a horizontal model instead of niche?
“We wanted to go live with everything perfect so we took our time. We chose a horizontal model with more options because we want our customers to not go anywhere else for anything at all, and to keep coming back” said Shikha Dabas, GM Operations. “Before starting out, we did almost 8 months of market research. We saw that most of the niche marketing companies ended up getting sold out after making some profits. We didn’t want that, we want to grow further and for a long time” said co founder Vikram Singh.
What can be the USP to break into the market?
Shoplik says it’s USP will be the upcoming products and ranges that will distinguish them because they are not available on other online portals and some are not available in the Indian market easily anyway. A Divine 9 store with products at prices of Rs. 9, 19 or 39. Hobby related categories selling gear and equipments. Special sports category that will have products like equipment for sports cars and bikes. Another store, tentatively named the ‘Rural Store’ displaying products from around the country that are from culturally remote areas and are usually difficult to obtain.
What about marketing and promotion?
Shikha says that marketing is currently limited to the online world, largely social media and a small degree of Google Adwords.They are planning to outsource some of the marketing that will take care of procurement, SEO, and help in the marketing of the launch of our own brand of products as well which will be happening soon.
The company is self funded company. However they also have some financial backing from Sitendra Singh of Star Housing Solutions India Pvt Ltd. With a little over 1 crore already utilised, most of the funds are being invested on marketing along with setting up the website, fixed assets, stocks and salaries. “Currently our funds are sufficient enough to comfortably last 4-6 months so we are not focused on raising any funds at the moment. In today’s market and investor scenario, don’t know if that would be called good planning or over confidence.
Their inventory and warehousing
It is maintained on a ratio bases which may differ from category to category. They obtain inventory on conditional basis from our vendors, when stocks are left over from say the summer collection we are able to exchange it for the winter collection. Interestingly, to maintain trust with our vendors, with a few of them they even deposit a security amount.
Shoplik also plans to liquidate the inventory into offline retail stores in the next year. These stores will be in the tier III areas mostly. “The stores will support our marketing strategy, help in setting up our courier services in these more remote areas and also help with inventory and warehousing, whatever inventory is left from the e commerce front will be sent directly to retail store” said Shakti Singh, co founder.
“ Shoplik is catering to a gamut of people so we did an extensive 8 month research before we started. We found a lot of problems in the online space, particularly with logistics and inventory maintenance. We will be focusing on insourcing our logistics and the next 2-6 months” comments Shakti. Vikram adds, “Our focus is on reaching the maximum number of our customers; right now most are from tier I and tier II but we also have 10% confirmed customer base in tier III. We will focus on customer satisfaction, what the customer sees on the site-matter where he is situated-is what he will get”.
They think what will set them apart from other companies that have failed despite huge backups is this logistics and customer satisfaction gap that they intend to cover.
Shoplik.com offers CC Avenue payment along with other options. COD option however is selective and based on location and choice of products. COD also has a non-refundable convenience charge of Rs. 49 levied on purchase of Rs. 999 or below.
Core technology of a PHP platform is used to build the site and customized and automated ERP software is used to manage the day to day functioning.
Even with much more successful competitors like Flipkart, Jabong & Myntra that are way ahead in the race, Shoplik thinks there is a huge chunk of unexplored audience still available in India. And with rising number of internet users and customer needs, they think the market opportunity is can be good. Shoplik claims to receive approx 5000+ hits daily in less than 3 months of its launch. Now whether they continue with this trajectory, plateau or become a ‘Funds & You’ model is yet to be seen.
Various factors that may support the growth of Shoplik
- Inventory led retailers pivoting to the marketplace, creating a gap of pros in this model.
- Decrease in the direct costs for an ecommerce website due to increasing competition in backend services and increasing number of options.
- Available case studies of Flipkart and others in the Indian market to optimize growth right from the start.
- Industry Avg. ROI for various marketing channels getting realistic figures and getting less experimental.
- Surely majority of consumers are offline buyers. The trend is on the rise, and opportunity to raise an investment? Goes to eternity!