Flipkart has recently decided to reposition itself and repackage the Flipkart fashion offering with the aim to become India's fashion capital. According to a Myntra research, India's online fashion market is set to grow 3.5 times from $4 bn to $14 bn by 2020.
To find out how Flipkart Fashion is going to achieve the same, The Drum spoke with Shoumyan Biswas, chief marketing officer at Flipkart.
He says: "In many ways, or let’s say that in more ways than one, fashion could be a very important growth driving vehicle for e-tail in general over the next four-to-six years. It is a category that will see a massive explosion and penetration. Large sets of people will come and shop for the first time on fashion and online, even existing users will shop more and more, as they shop more verticals and more styles and categories. When we look at our internal data, we also see a very similar trend; we see 40% of the new customers that we acquire are actually acquired through fashion as a category alone. All the other categories contribute 60% put together. When we look at repeat transactions, we see that 70% of customers, who repeat with us, come and shop on fashion.
"As you can see, fashion has huge relevance for Flipkart, in terms of both, driving new users as well as getting repeat users. Therefore, it is no surprise that this is an extremely important and critical category for us to sort of build and grow on going forward for future. Between 2013-15-16, while the categories saw massive growth and we were catering to large number of customers, generally in the mind of consumers Flipkart was still more of a horizontal platform or a destination which sold mostly mobile phones or electronic devices, and fashion was one of the categories. People were not still recollecting Flipkart as a preferred fashion destination. That was where we were roughly about two years back."
Flipkart is constantly expanding its inventory to combat rival Amazon as well. It launched its private label fashion brand Divastri and had also snapped up Indian clothing group Jabong for $70m. Flipkart further wants to position itself as an affordable and trendy fashion and to push this agenda; the brand is focused on content marketing. One of the examples was Flipkart launching the Chief Misschief Ambassador competition where they invited parents to post pictures of their mischievous kids.
Biswas explains more: "Today we have a dominant and pole position in fashion category in the country. Some of the things that we did in addition to advertising, we also had a very strong role of content marketing, where we use content very intelligently and subtly to drive commerce, to educate people on various aspects of fashion, in terms of what is tending, what is not trending how to drape saris, what to wear to parties and so on and so forth. At the same time we also use content that drove commerce.
"We wanted to find the balance between aspiration and scale. If you look around the world of fashion, all the brands and the retailers that are across the globe, you will find that there are two kinds of brands. Brands that have a mass appeal but they are not aspirational; on the other hand, there are brands which are aspirational but they are meant for the privileged few. In India, with Flipkart fashion we are actually trying to break, or find the balance between the two. If you see fashion capital does all of that. Fashion capital when you say, it exudes aspiration. Fashion capital as a word is very much within fashion lingo."
Flipkart also introduced its 'Kids as grown up adults' campaign and ‘If it’s trendy, it’s on Flipkart’ and ‘Be trendy. Always.’ campaigns. It recently launched campaigns with Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor.
According to Biswas, content marketing and advertising is Flipkart's focus and they want to stay away from the plain-Jane advertising format. He says: "We decided to step up our kidults campaign and made them meet celebrities. That is how this new device came where we have two iconic celebrities Shradha Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor being shown in the same frame with the kidults. That we believe a very strong disruption in an advertising device and it takes forward the legacy of Flipkart kidults and also brings the imagery or aspiration quotient of Bollywood celebs in a beautiful manner.
That is the second ingredient of how we are building fashion. The third ingredient of building fashion in my mind is innovations that we are doing in the digital space that drives engagement. For instance use of modern day technology like AR, augmented reality and virtual reality in trying to engage with people through gamification tools, like for instance, very recently we did a music video which was a 360 degree music video where there was a song played, the song is called ‘mera juta hai Japani’, as you can remember the song, it is very beautifully talking about various aspects of fashion, mera juta hai Japani. As the song played, you saw the protagonists in different fashion styles which were changing from one frame to the other. This is a 360-degree video which you could rotate."
Localisation is also something which Flipkart is massively focusing on as brands will need more localised content to advertise in India.
Biswas adds: "No space of fashion capital of India is true unless you do regional inputs. We have actually taken a very-very strong leg of having regional marketing plans where they are going down to several cities and we are talking about what is trendy in the city. So we are going and telling people why everyone in Jaipur is actually shopping from Flipkart fashion and so should you, to a consumer. The biggest number of ethnic wear sold in Jaipur, the biggest number of footwear sold in Jaipur, the biggest number of kids wear sold in Jaipur are on Flipkart fashion. Therefore Flipkart fashion is the fashion capital of India even for Jaipur. That is the kind of regional marketing that we are doing."
Walmart recently acquired Flipkart in a deal which is being valued around $18bn-20bn. Whether that will change the perception of Flipkart in people's mind, Biswas says: "What we are actually seeing is that for us nothing has changed, it is business as usual and the good part is that it is good business as usually. It is not business, it is growing business as usual.
"The reason it is happening is that we are fully customer obsessed. We are always listening to the customers and we are doing what is right for them. We believe like that if we keep doing that thing, we will keep growing and other factors will be of comparatively lesser importance."