Info-tech

Going the whole six yards in the online space

PRIYANKA PANI BINDU D MENON Mumbai | Updated on December 03, 2014

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Margins can go up to 200% when e-tailing saris, more than in other categories

The sari, the humble old-fashioned Indian ‘six-yards,’ has turned into a smart investment tool ever since online shopping took off. The margins for selling saris can go up to 200 per cent in the online segment compared with 60 per cent for other categories like apparel, and consumers durables.

Over the recent months a number of entrepreneurs have got hooked into the magic of this long-piece of fabric.

Recently, Arvind Sharma, ex-Chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett, quit his 25-year-old creative career to launch an online portal, Indiasarihouse.com, dedicated to Indian saris and fabrics.

Last year, Karol Bagh Saree House, a 60-year-old brand, joined hands with Yash Raj Films to create India’s first Bollywood inspired fashion label called Diva’ni. The company is also planning to start an exclusive portal soon.

Sari retailer Nalli Silks, an iconic 86-year-old Chennai brand, too opened its online venture to focus on both domestic and international audience.

A host of e-commerce players such as Fashionandyou, Snapdeal, Limeroad, Flipkart and Jabong have expanded their sari segment and several portals have emerged specialised players in this segment.

“[The] Sari is something that will never go out of fashion and India is known to have an incredible range of saris. However, a very small fraction of these are [easily] available, and only in cities through big retailers. Online provides that opportunity to consumers in smaller towns,” said Suchi Mukherjea, Founder, Limeroad.

Tie-up with weavers

The company has tied up with over 42 local weavers from across the country to sell saris such as Chanderi, Kantha, Dhakai, Kota, Ikat and Pochampalli.

According to industry experts, this is a low-risk and high-margin business for online players compared to readymade apparels as there are no challenges related to sizing and maintaining an SKU. Compared to offline, the e-tailers have an advantage as they do not require setting up several outlets across the country to maintain stock.

For e-tailers, they don’t have to invest in inventory as they are all marketplaces. This gives these vendors a large consumer base and the ability to reach out in different parts of the country.

Artisangilt.com, a portal dedicated to sari, holds around 19,000 products in this section.

Sanya Dhir, Director, KBSH, said another reason of the segment’s rapid traction is the demand coming from the international market as well.

“There is a significant demand from the international audience with our average ticket standing at ₹25,000.”

Domestic demand

Designer Ritu Kumar, who retails both through online and offline, said the quantum of sales is hard to define as the saris are being retailed in two formats, one being the upper end wedding saris handled by the more haute couture-type online sites.

Kumar has seen a spike in demand from abroad.

“NRIs are the biggest client for these, as the Indian consumer prefers the touch and feel of the same, and they now beginning to look online for weddings and society occasions,” Kumar said.

Growing sales

Vikrant Khanna, CMO, HomeShop18, said on an average the portal sells over two lakh saris a month and delivers them it to over 3,000 locations across the country.

The company works with small manufacturers and provides a platform for selling their designs across India – niche manufacturers get large-scale national channel exposure.

Published on December 03, 2014

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