With the Smile Group launching an online shoe retail store BeStylish.com, does Yebhi.com (formerly BigShoeBazaar) finally face competition? Manmohan Agarwal, the Co-Founder of the site, does not think so. In a conversation with exchange4media, Agarwal talked about why BigShoeBazaar became Yebhi, about the general picture of online retail in India, and how the brand is using digital media to reach their audience.
For marketing, the company had done early spending, Agarwal said, but at this point was focusing on search marketing and banner ads, but not at a large scale. The marketing focus for Yebhi.com, which sees around 70,000 visitors daily, is on digital media, and also on word of mouth through customer experience.
Agarwal explained, “We spent a couple of crores on marketing, but at this stage there is no requirement. Our focus is on organic growth by delivering on four values – variety, prices, deals and fast deliveries. If we can deliver this, then the customer is happy and will come back and also tell their friends about us.”
According to him, differentiation depended on the competition, but he didn’t feel they had any competition. “I can’t comment about BeStylish or Zalando (Germany’s largest online shoe retailer. They shut down their office in India in April 2011), but the other sites dealing in similar products are flash sales, a deal a day. We have a very different model, with over 50,000 products available throughout the year, so the customers get what they want, not just what we offer,” he stressed.
Rebranding & shift in focus
This comes soon after the company underwent a rebranding exercise and shifted its focus from just shoe sales to a far wider range of products, such as apparel, jewellery and accessories. Agarwal said, “The shoe market in India is a $5 billion market. With a market this big, it’s a normal trend for people to try and set up a business, but the fact is that the others are not as engaged with their products as us. Some are simply online marketplaces, which don’t control their inventory, or their supply chain. On the other hand, we buy our inventory, and have fine tuned our logistics to the point where some deliveries take place in 24 hours.”
He maintained that the rebranding and shift of focus away from shoes was not because the market was not there for selling shoes online, but rather because there was no ecosystem of ecommerce in the country, though there was a lot of scope for growth. He further said that they had to get involved at every stage – from the user experience on the site till the point where the product reached them, and even longer than that if they were not fully satisfied. “We have to own the process,” he insisted.
“We decided to start with shoes for our e-commerce business because there is a standardisation to shoes, and we got traction in the last year and a half, and completed the category. Instead of launching parallel stores for different categories, we decided to create a new domain, which does not have a category specific name,” Agarwal added.