OFFBEAT which has switched from being a personalisation portal to selling products online is now wooing target groups in smaller cities

Mukesh Bansal played on the phrase “Me and My Art” and coined and this IITian appears to have mastered the art of online retailing through this portal, counted among the top 100 in India. The e-commerce portal offers around 100 fashion and lifestyle brands and its delivery network extends to 9,000 cities, in India and 40 other countries.

It has put its back-end infrastructure in place and is working at increasing its warehousing capacity in India. In addition, Mukesh and his core team have embarked on an aggressive marketing drive, which involves strengthening the company's position in the big metros and wooing target groups in tier-2 and tier-3 cities through pointed strategies. “At present, 60 per cent of the portal's business comes from big metros and the rest from the smaller ones. In the future, the reverse will be true — 60 per cent of the business will be done in tier-2 and tier-3 cities,” says Mukesh. “E-commerce thrives in places where international brands are known but don't have retail outlets that can provide access to them.” In the days to come, the portal will be spending considerably on outdoor advertising in the secondary cities.

Expansion of the big metros also augurs well for e-commerce, points out Mukesh. People living in the outskirts, where these brands may not have a physical presence, are likely to turn to e-commerce portals. A bigger catalogue is another attraction. Regular retailing faces the constraints of shelf space and organisational overheads. E-retailing obliterates the need for inventories and a sales staff and savings made on account of this, can help provide benefits to the customers, explains Mukesh.

He also predicts a massive rise in online shopping of fashion and lifestyle products. It is expected to be second only to the travel category. In the last five years, a surfeit of global fashion and lifestyle brands has forayed into the Indian market. Their advent has resulted in a tremendous demand for them, but these brands have not been able to meet this demand for want of outlets. E-commerce alone holds the key to effectively bridging the gap between demand and supply. Aware of the potential in this area, switched from being a personalisation portal to selling these products online.

Another reason for Mukesh's optimism is the increasing financial clout of young professionals. With steadily rising disposable incomes, wardrobes of young professionals are getting wider. There is also an attempt to appeal to those in their mid-teens, a fact brought to light by the contents of a television commercial. Among future strategies to boost the portal's image is a brand ambassador who will be a poster figure for youthfulness and style, the intangible components of lifestyle and fashion products.