We all know of the e-commerce battleground and the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between global giant Amazon and homegrown Flipkart. But an equally intense battle is unfolding behind the scenes: that’s for the top slot in the highly competitive online fashion sweepstakes. That the big boys in the e-commerce game will be locked in a fight to the finish on the fashion front is not without reason. At last count, the size of the Indian online fashion market was pegged at $4 billion, projected to grow 3.5 times to touch $14 billion by 2020. And that’s not all. Globally, online fashion retail is one of the largest categories in e-commerce and the same trend is visible in India, as more and more people log in to shop for clothes and accessories. Online fashion retail is also pretty much a battle between Amazon and Flipkart, with one little twist. Flipkart also has the Myntra-Jabong combine under its belt–the result of two acquisitions which demonstrated Flipkart’s seriousness about the fashion business–and the smallest player currently seems to be winning.
Our cover story, written by Deepti Chaudhary and Debojyoti Ghosh, takes a detailed look at what’s at stake in the online fashion retail faceoff. With gross merchandise volume (GMV) set to touch $1.85 billion by FY19, Myntra is in pole position, followed by parent Flipkart, which expects to finish FY19 with revenue of $1.6 billion. Amazon, with its legendary deep pockets, has some catching up to do, though its fashion business in India is also witnessing a very rapid pace of growth. Amazon Fashion is one of the top three stores on Amazon.in. The e-commerce giant saw an 80% growth in fashion in 2017, and the year before had seen growth of 100%. So clearly, the global giant will soon be snapping at the heels of Myntra and Flipkart. And that’s exactly what makes this fight so compelling to watch. Amazon is battling Flipkart in the larger ‘affordable’ fashion space, and taking on Myntra in premium fashion.
Meanwhile, Myntra is upping its game aggressively, using a combination of technology and fashion innovations which its chief executive, Ananth Narayanan, believes will keep the fashion e-retailer ahead in the game and even win against Amazon. The strategy, Narayanan says, is to innovate on three fronts: selection, service, and customer engagement. But retail consultant Devangshu Dutta, who describes Amazon as “relentless”, feels it’s a matter of time before the U.S. giant picks up pace even quicker, given that the margins tend to be high in this segment.
The online fashion story apart, another one I would urge you to read is about how the husband-wife duo of K. Ganesh and Meena Ganesh have put together a virtual ecosystem of exciting startups through their platform GrowthStory. The serial entrepreneur couple, known for their earlier venture TutorVista which they later sold, are entrepreneurs in the finest tradition.
Set up in 2011, GrowthStory today runs as many as 13 companies, mainly in the consumer Internet space, with successful brands like online grocery firm BigBasket, home healthcare provider Portea Medical, and online jewellery store BlueStone among them. The Ganeshs are different from your ordinary VCs in that they not only bring in investments but also put in place founding teams who then work as co-founders. We like to call GrowthStory a billion-dollar startup factory
(The Fortune India April 2018 issue is on stands. Subscribe here)