Hybrid eCommerce Firms Gaining Investors’ Attention

Jaipur-based an online portal that offers jewellery and accessories for women, men, and kids, Voylla has raised $ 15 million funding from Peepul Capital - Image Source: Facebook

Voylla has raised $ 15 million funding from Peepul Capital – Image Source: Facebook

Jaipur-based online portal, Voylla that offers jewelery and accessories for women, men and kids, has raised $15 million in funding from private equity firm, Peepul Capital. Earlier, the company had secured around $2 million from Snow Leopard Technology Ventures and undisclosed angel investors. The new funding will be used for technology improvement, brand building and expanding its business to offline channel, as the TheTechPortal reports.

As a part of the deal, Peepul Capital’s Investment Director, Surya Mantha will join the board of the company. Launched in 2012, Voylla is a jewellery retailer operating in a hybrid model which with this deal, will expand its physical store network to over 100 outlets.

The company has partnered and integrated with more than 30 online marketplaces. Out of those 30 marketplaces, 25 are in India, including Flipkart and Snapdeal, while the rest of them are in the US, the UK and Middle East.

The firm also has three shop-in-shop stores in India in partnership with Future Group’s central Mall, while its manufacturing unit is set up in Jaipur.

This deal has cemented the rewinding trend of investors focusing on eCommerce portals, specifically those with women as the prime target audience. Mumbai based online beauty retailer, Nykaa that deals with wellness and beauty products, recently raised $9.5 million, led by private equity firm TVS Capital with participation from Marico founder Harsh Mariwala; Hexaware founder Atul Nishar; Dalip Pathak, former India and Europe head of Warburg Pincus and Michael Carlos, former president of Swiss fragrance maker Givaudan. The news was already broken in the first week of September. However, the official confirmation has just come in.

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Nykaa will use the latest funding to expand its own line of branded products as well as to drive its strategy of being accessible to customers across formats, including through online and regular stores. It aims to increase its GMV by five-fold in the coming year, and aspires to reach over $15 million by December 2015.

A few days back, a fashion eCommerce portal for women apparel, StalkBuyLove had raised funding from 10 international investors. The portal mainly deals in in-house designed clothing and accessories. They don’t have plans of opening up brick and mortar stores yet.

A similar eCommerce brand, Faballey has taken a hybrid route after tasting success by selling its private label through eCommerce marketplaces and its own store. The company founded by two DU graduates, takes pride in its design and manufacturing capabilities.

Given the scenario, it is clear that omni-channel is the middle ground that companies these days find most scalable. With the emergence of O2O startups, the boundary between digital and tangible is getting thinner. And with 80% of India’s population still not connected to the Internet, it makes sense for online brands to venture offline as well. This would require a large capital investment, and in the recent two cases it is clear that investors do have belief in this model.

“Even in the US, not more than 30% of the business is online, 70% is still offline. So to talk about India, there is no way we will reach more than 15% in the next five years. The large part of it is still going to be offline and it makes complete sense to go offline and capture a large piece of the offline market,” said Vishwas Shringi, Founder and CEO of Voylla.

International brands like Forever21, Mango etc. have presence across malls in different cities in India, and have their online portal as well. Brands are striving for an omni channel presence. And with the increase in number of connected consumers, a seamless experience is what brands have to deliver, both online and in brick and mortar stores.
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