The Smile Group, which ranges from digital marketing firm Quasar (now Possible Worldwide) to e-commerce firm Letsbuy and daily deals site DealsandYou, has now launched a new e-commerce portal targeted at the footwear market in India.
The new company, BeStylish, aims to be India’s Zappos, and intends to become a destination that offers more variety than the companies they will be partnering with do, on their own sites. Shailen Amin, CEO, BeStylish (formerly CFO at Millward Brown), said, “We are looking at catering to a wide range of people, but the initial push will be on the younger audience, who’re more interested in having a little flair in the way they dress, because with us you won’t get the same boring stock you get at a shoe store.”
He added, “Even online, other people just put up the same stock. For us, whether it’s a teenager or a younger guy working in an office, who wants the latest shoes from Adidas, where does he go?” Pointing to his own shoes, which have an American tattoo style design of a flaming skull, he said, “You can’t get this in India. Our idea is to build an audience through convenience and access, instead of going after the discount model. We won’t sell the same plain brown shoes at a low price.”
The site claims to have 2,000 styles across 50 brands. Some shoe brands available on the site are Woodland, Adidas, Buckaroo, Nike, Adams, Provogue, Franco Leone, PlayBoy, ID and Numero Uno.
Aside from trying to reach people with completely new products though, the company also wants to engage users through conversations. The idea is simple – to create a database of knowledge, around fashion and use, on the subject of shoes. Amin said, “For example, you’ve heard about diabetic shoes, but do you know what those are? These are shoes with no lining, which would cut into a diabetic’s feet, because they have very sensitive feet. We’ll have pages that discuss the latest fashion trends in shoes, and have articles about the right setting to wear particular styles.”
The idea is to create a large database of knowledge which will keep the users coming back, which could also translate into sales for the site. This strategy will also build content that the e-commerce portal can use to promote its social presence, which will be the cornerstone of their marketing strategy, according to co-founder Harish Bahl of the Smile Group.
Bahl said, “What we’ve seen with the other companies in our group is that word of mouth is the best way of spreading. But today, we are also seeing that because of the underdeveloped state of organised retail in the country, e-commerce is growing even more quickly, reaching the smaller towns and cities, where there is a lot of demand for products, but the people there don’t have access.”
He added, “To reach out to this audience, social media is an excellent tool. People trust their friends’ recommendations and are happy to engage with a brand if there is a clear value in it for them. We are building a database of knowledge, and giving them access at a reasonable price.”
Amin further said, “Also, our logistics set-up has been very good, because we’ve been able to leverage the experience of the other companies in the group. So, sometimes people have actually given the feedback that our service was too fast for them.”