There are very few players in the Indian e-commerce space that have taken a bottom up approach in growing their inventory and business. RedBus and BookmyShow are amongst those and have been quite a success in doing so. BigShoeBazaar (Earlier Coverage) is one those few startups in the touch-and-feel product space that has managed to gain traction. Started by Danish Ahmed, a Kanpur based shoe traders/Manufacturer’s son, after an experiment of selling blocked inventory over Rediff and Ebay, in 2007.
Around summers of 2009 Danish built a professional team bringing 3 experienced guys as co-founders, raised funding and started afresh. The new team is based out of Delhi with a total size of 150.
BigShoeBazaar has invested a lot in getting the UI right and making the product viewing feature as life like as possible. Their six angle viewing feature is very impressive and the fact that they have maintained this feature for almost every product in offering is quite appreciable. They also power the official online stores of brands like Lotto and RedTape. The management does claim to be inspired by Zappos and has some very liberal 30 days no questions asked return policy. BSB also claims to be one of the few online stores to maintain its own inventory.
With its strength in supply chain management and experience of dealing with large shoe brands BSB has taken the offline franchisee route as well. They currently claim to have 10 offline stores and plan to expand to 100 over next 2 years. They even have wholesale cash and carry model for offline retailers. With so much offline development it makes it difficult to understand whether it’s a offline businesses that also sells online or the other way around.
BigShoeBazaar has also extended to apparels and accessories which given the niche that it had defined as a shoe store seems to be diluting the brand (Read: FlipKart No Longer Just A Bookstore, Starts Selling Mobiles and More [Brand Dilution?] ).
The store currently claims to be shipping 1500-2000 products daily and see max of 2-3% goods being returned for any reason.
Here’s what Danish had to say on his the team and the new category of products.
Ecommerce is a recent phenomenon that has now started growing in india. Because its a new industry, a lot of people believe its an easy business to start and succeed in. However, its not.
An ecommerce site is like a large retail store, with the competition and customer reviews one click away. That means you are either the best, 24x7x365.25, or nothing.
Unless you have hardcore knowledge of supply chain management, logistics, retail and technology, building a large, sustainable ecommerce company, would be very difficult.
All four of us met through a common reference and when we discussed the idea of building an ecommerce company, it made a lot of sense for us to do it as a team because of the complementing skills and experience we brought together.
The team at BSB brings years of experience in very large scale operations of retail, logistics and technology. That enables us to act much better, faster and with a lot less mistakes than our competition and i think in that long run, that would become a significant differentiator.
Moving from footwear to clothing and other lifestyle categories, is a natural extension of our strength in sourcing as well as customer segmentation. The niche however is not the category we are selling, it is the experience we are delivering.
BSB has recently started re-branding itself as Yebhi.com, probably to come out of the perception of a shoes only store. Which is indeed a good move and a better brand name to promote.
What’s your take? Have you ever bought shoes/footwear online?
[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He writes at The Inspire Blog]