Apparel E-Retailing in India – An Interview with an Online T-shirt Company

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Apparel e-retailing is no more a new thing. Thousands of businesses are already running and there are many individuals who dream to launch their clothing brands and sell online. People ask me often: How to sell clothes online? This interview post will be a guide to most of those questions.

There are many big names in Indian e-commerce industry. Many apparel brands are selling their products through e-commerce portals or having own online stores. Starting an independent online store is really a challenging job.

I had an interaction with Siddharth Jain, owner of Champu.in; a Delhi based e-retailing company. Champu.in sells T-shirt and other knitted products through online catalog. In the interview I tried to find information related to apparel e-retail business and custom T-shirt business in general.

I hope you will find this interview-post helpful.

Image courtesy: Champu.in

OCS: How did you get the idea to start T-shirt business?
Siddharth Jain: My family business has a strong hold on bulk manufacturing in garment business in Delhi. We do have a strong set of offline players across PAN India, stocking and selling our bulk products. We wanted to create an online brand and leverage the opportunity of growing online user base in India.

OCS: How did you start your journey? 
Siddharth Jain: We started the venture in 2012 out of my bedroom, and continued the operations there for around 6 months, then we took a small office space and currently employ a small team of 5 people, having designer, operations and marketing manager.

OCS: Could you please explain the business process that you follow from order receiving to shipping an item? Secondly how much time (in days) you take to deliver the shipment after receiving an order.
Siddharth Jain: Once an order is received, we check our stock inventory and dispatch it immediately (within 24 hours); the product takes another 2-5 working days to get delivered depending on the location of delivery. In case, the product is not available in the stock, we put the stock into printing and dispatch the products within 48 hours.

OCS: How do you manage the T-shirt manufacturing part? Do you have your own manufacturing set up or you source blank Tees? 
Siddharth Jain: We have a complete set of services in my own family starting from cotton trading to t shirt manufacturing and wholesaling. We choose the finest of the fabrics available in the market to manufacture soft premium cotton t shirts and then print on it to sell online.

OCS: In custom print T-shirt, printing is the main focus. What type of printing do you use normally?
Siddharth Jain: There are multiple types of printing, depending on the type of design, we use screen print, and digital print and transfer print in a mix of products.

OCS: Could you please share some business models on custom print T-shirt?
Siddharth Jain: Custom printing is fairly a straight forward business model, where client has their specific designs and logos to be printed on t shirts. Printing is a little tricky in this custom business, as there are multiple types of printing available in the market. To understand the client’s requirement and offer to them best possible solution in terms of quality and pricing is what I believe very important.

OCS: How much investment is required in setting up an e-commerce business (Custom print T-shirt)? Just for assumption. 
Siddharth Jain: I believe anywhere between 50k – 1L rupees is required for setting up a functioning website for custom t shirts. However, to market and publicize the same would definitely need some good amount of money as online marketing is an expensive affair be it Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.

OCS: What do you think about market saturation in e-commerce business for apparel in India? 
Siddharth Jain: I personally don’t believe that any saturation has come. There are handful of websites which are providing really good quality stuff and affordable prices. I believe the market is huge enough for multiple brands to co-exist just like in the offline world. I believe that quality and service will be the key differentiators for a long run.

OCS: What are the current challenges for e-commerce businesses in Custom print T-shirt category?
Siddharth Jain: E-commerce challenges are quite a many as of now, which is expected to reduce over next 4-5 years such as Logistics unavailability, we are unable to ship to many destinations just because we do not have delivery in certain areas, Cash on delivery is again one of the major challenges, pertaining to return rates etc.

OCS: As per your experience which model is the best for new comers – Selling through e-commerce portal like Shop clues, Jabong, Amazon or building an own website?
Siddharth Jain: If someone is looking for a timeframe of no less than 5-6 years to build a business, and have the capacity to spend and survive through that period, one should sell on its own website, else selling on other portals is a great option as well, because there is absolutely 0 marketing cost, and you start getting orders on Day 1, (few metrics have to be certainly managed there as well)

OCS: Can you brief about customer profile and from where you get most of the orders?
Siddharth Jain: We get our orders from a complete mix of Metros and Non Metros. Our customers are primarily college going students who love wearing these funky tees and flaunting them.

OCS: How do you do marketing for your brand and services?
Siddharth Jain: We use various paid services such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc to create Brand awareness. Rest we primarily rely on Word Of Mouth marketing, as that has been the major driver for us since beginning.

OCS: One last question. How to set-up payment gateway for an e-commerce business?
Siddharth Jain: Setting up a payment gateway is not a tough job these days. You simply have to create a bank account under your registered company name and fill up a few documents and send it to the gateway in question. They will probably take a week’s time to review things and offer you a payment gateway.

If you have further questions on apparel e-retailing, you can post it on comment box.

P.S. It is important to know the business process before you jump into that. You can refer my new book Garment Manufacturing: Process, Practices and Technology to learn garment manufacturing process.

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Online Clothing Study: Apparel E-Retailing in India – An Interview with an Online T-shirt Company
Apparel E-Retailing in India – An Interview with an Online T-shirt Company
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