India’s leading D2C fashion brand Bewakoof.com has quickly grown to become a successful business and a lifestyle brand to reckon with. The 10-year-old brand has so far raised Rs. 80 crore from leading investors like InvestCorp and Ivy Cap, and is currently having sales of Rs. 300 crore and targeting to reach Rs. 2000 crore by FY ’25. It has strengthened its sales to more than 20,000 products per day. The company has a total customer base of 10 million and is adding more than 2 lakh new customers every month with a repeat customer rate of 65 per cent. Its products have also gone live on Amazon India, Myntra and Flipkart recently and the company further plans to list its products across major online marketplaces like Tata Cliq and Nykaa in the next 6 months. The company has recently raised Rs. 60 crore from InvestCorp, IvyCap and Spring Marketing Capital.
In an interview with Apparel Resources, Prabhkiran Singh, Founder CEO, Bewakoof.com shared his multipronged growth strategy to achieve this ambitious target.
Bewakoof.com is built on social media and content marketing. Please explain your strategy for the same.
Bewakoof has been built on social media and content marketing is a key strategy for us. In line with our brand philosophy of adding lightheartedness to life, we create and post content which are relatable and involve contemporary humour. This has built an organic following for the brand with 4.4 million fans on Facebook and 1.5 million fans on Instagram. The content is liked and shared in lakhs by our consumers on a daily basis, driving good brand awareness and recall, especially in the smaller towns.
Social media is a double-edged sword in creating a brand through social media. What were the difficulties faced while building such a successful brand on social media? And how did you overcome these difficulties?
Breaking through the clutter and bringing originality in your content on social media has been quite challenging. For a brand to be successful on social media, they need to create top quality content and stay up-to-date with trends. Not just in terms of trending topics such as an algorithm change or when a new feature is released but also when there is a new app or platform that users are consuming, brands need to be there and generate quality content as per the type of content that is working well on that platform. Our social media team, having 10 members, is always on the lookout for such trends.
As technology is one of your biggest focus, and in FY ’21 and FY ’22, you have doubled down on the tech investments, please share the details of software you are using at various levels and the areas of technology you are investing in.
We have built our shopping platform and catalog systems in-house. Over the last 8 years, we have continuously iterated and evolved our systems. For managing supply chain and other downstream use-cases, we use SAP, Unicommerce and a couple of other SaaS solutions
Our key areas of investment are features to enable customisable fashion products (custom T-shirts, accessories, etc.,), size recommendation/prediction features and providing personalised product recommendations to our customers.
Casualwear is your strength and it has a huge opportunity today. So what motivated you to start Indo-fusion ethnic and sleepwear?
We started with one category (T-shirts) back in 2012 and have improved sales and penetration year-on-year by identifying gaps, while we have grown tremendously in last few years. For the next stage, we have launched new categories like sleepwear/loungewear, plus size and Indo-fusion and have received encouraging response from our customers. We thereby plan to increase revenue contribution from these categories in coming quarters and launch many other categories in casualwear, activewear, innerwear and accessories.
You are targeting more than 14 times growth in the next 4 years (from current sale of Rs. 300 crore to Rs. 2000 crore by FY ’25) which is almost impossible. How will you achieve this?
Bewakoof is adopting a multipronged growth strategy – adding depth to current categories, adding new categories like innerwear, sportswear, footwear, beauty etc. These take the brand volume up by many notches by making Bewakoof’s presence very serious on marketplaces like Amazon, Tata Cliq, Myntra and Flipkart.
You have In-house capabilities in design, manufacturing… Please share the details of your infrastructure, what kind of products you manufacture in-house and what all you outsource. What is the strategy behind in-house manufacturing and outsourcing…
We have in-house capabilities in terms of design (printing apparel and accessories etc), manufacturing unit wherein we make all forms of apparel. We literally embody the idea of ‘fast fashion’ and strive for delivering fashionable and trendy styles within weeks and for this we rely on keeping a significant amount of our production in-house.
Share your product sourcing strategy with us in detail like how many apparel manufacturers are associated with you, from which apparel hubs you are mainly sourcing, do you follow/accept manufacturers’ designs also or sell only your own design, how big is your product development and sourcing team?
We have a network of more than 200 vendors across India and abroad (Bangladesh) from whom we source fabric, finished garments and accessories. While we do get significant sourcing done from Tirupur and Ludhiana, we have vendors spread across India. We have about 30 team members (in sourcing and product development) who coordinate with the vendors throughout the product lifecycle.
What are the major challenges for you in sourcing and how do you overcome these challenges?
Supply risk, long process cycle and lack of strategic alignment with vendors are some of the challenges we have faced in the past. We have overcome these challenges by working with a few strategic vendors and building a deep relationship with them over time. Another important thing that we have done is to take a large chunk of the supply chain in-house to ensure quality and faster Go-To-Market (GTM).
Who are your competitors and how do you see competition for a brand like yours?
Given the expanse of our range and the categories we are present in, our competition also runs across the segment. Our goal is to build a lifestyle brand of expressive and differentiated products across fashion, beauty, home and living.
Share details about your employee-friendly HR policies, initiatives regarding CSR, sustainability?
We are always trying to understand what our people want, through formal and informal communication channels and strive to introduce new initiatives and practices keeping people at the heart of it. Apart from silent hours every day, mandatory leaves, we recently did away with the attendance punching system because we truly believe that the foundation of any great company is rooted in its ability to foster trust among people and more often than not, they respond with higher ownership and autonomy.
We introduced Covid leaves for self and family at the start of this year to help employees take time off while they and/or their family recovers from Covid without having to worry about any impact on their leave balance or loss of pay for new joiners.
It is our endeavour to be close to people’s problems and find real time solutions. On the CSR front, we pick up small projects on different occasions. On the occasion of Independence Day, we raise funds for Smile foundation’s Shiksha na Ruke initiative that is working towards providing continuous learning to underprivileged children.
As your website says, Bewakoof is the spirit of looking at things differently… What different things have you done in your organisation?
The way we run our business – we have multiple start-ups within the company. Bewakoof’s entrepreneurial culture sets us apart. Our model is to get the best talent -having an appetite to accept multiple failures and scaling fast on things that work – and give them freedom and resources.
You started with the belief that a business cannot be about financial gain alone, it is about making a positive impact. Please share what positive impact Bewakoof has had so far?
Our value system is built on trusting our employees and bringing happiness to our customers. We develop everything around our 2 most important stakeholders — employees and customers. We approach business with an opportunity to generate employment, delighting customers and looking for opportunities to save them money which they can spend on other useful experiences and investments. For us, the number of employment we are generating and the amount of money we are saving for our customers are at par with the profit and loss metrics.
How do you see your journey of a decade?
Last decade has been a great learning experience. We met and built great relationships with really smart founders, investors and mentors. We are truly happy to be ahead of the curve in the D2C industry, successfully building India’s largest D2C fashion brand.
We started out of a dorm room at IIT Bombay with an initial investment of Rs. 30,000 and scaled to brand sales of Rs. 300 crore. Though, we still feel we have just begun and big things are yet to be achieved, it has been a journey of a lifetime so far.