The Indian fashion industry is seeing a bigger opportunity to reach consumers through the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) model of business. This model is not only increasing the revenues for brands that are hyperactive on social media channels to remain connected with their customers but also helping to build brand value.
One of such D2C brands is Mumbai-based Bewakoof.com, which is completing 10 years of its inception and has served 6 million customers to date. The company plans to accelerate its growth trajectory by investing in marketing, branding, technology and talent acquisition with an aim to clock Rs. 1,000 crore in sales in four years. Being mainly into knitted garments such as tees, the brand’s major sourcing is from Tirupur and Ludhiana that are known to be two ‘Knitwear Cities’ of India. As of now, Bewakoof is annually sourcing around 5 million garments and is geared up to add new vendors. Bewakoof’s monthly order size per vendor varies from 5,000 pieces in fashion to 1 lakh pieces in the core category, depending on the vendor’s size.
In a short yet informative interview with Apparel Resources (AR), Prabhkiran Singh, Founder and CEO of the company who is also an IITian, has emphasised on strengthening the company’s sourcing base and stated that his sourcing team leads the vendors from the front rather than following and waiting for trials, and ensures smooth and cost-effective sourcing.
Quick turnaround is a way to go
The ideal lead time for us is 75-90 days. But in terms of quick turnaround, we close the entire cycle in 30 days also, especially for specific orders that need to reach the consumer market in quick time. This time frame contains the time from the order confirmation to warehouse deliveries. To have a seamless process in this, we are working with vendors having 50 machines as well as vendors who have a multi-factory set-up of 500 machines. We do have regular orders for our core styles, while best-selling product categories are placed with the vendors with a shorter lead time.
Apart from tees, its product basket includes joggers, shorts, boxers, pyjamas, hoodies, sweatshirts, athleisure, jackets, sweaters and sportswear – both for men and ladies.
“Growing volumes and variety in products are an intricate part of Bewakoof.com’s sourcing. We have got fame because of our exquisitely printed T-shirts; hence the printing process is quick because there’s a lot of demand for the same in the consumer market. Printing is majorly done in-house with M&R’s fully computerised printing machines to maintain accuracy and perfect print quality on tees,”says Prabhkiran Singh.
With increasing vendor base, vendor development is an inevitable part
We at Bewakoof are continuously trying our best to build a strong vendor base. Looking at the future growth prospects for Bewakoof, we had to step into outsourcing for a bigger quantum and more variety for our customers. As we are launching innerwear shortly, new vendors for this segment are also what we are looking for. We have a proper audit procedure where we see that the factory is compliant with the normal facilities and procedures for manufacturing garments to achieve a designated Acceptable Quality Level (AQL).
The company definitely prefers vendors having good infrastructure and machinery to manufacture the desired quality of garments. It is important that they are financially stable and have the necessary technical competence to produce the garments in their respective category.
The number of vendors is easy to add, but the brand gives more weightage to vendor compliance and performance. There are around 100 vendors associated with us for apparels and another 30 vendors for accessories/trims. With performing vendors, our order size is increasing by around 20 per cent annually. We have a technically competent sourcing team and we technically study the product in-depth in terms of details like count, construction, GSM, gauge, composition, etc., and provide adequate information to the vendor to manufacture the correct fabrics and the correct garment as required by us. We lead the vendors from the front rather than follow and wait for trials.
The company is giving required importance to sustainable initiatives also, as more companies are stepping forward to participate in the social responsibilities they have towards the entire world to keep up with the growing demand of customers asking for variety, expansion in terms of products and categories. All these even lead to financial benefits in terms of costing and advantages of economies of scale, when working with specialised vertical set-ups.
To speed up the process, the brand works on SAP but vendors have their own software to maintain and we respect their time and action plans.
Challenges in sourcing
Supply risk, long process cycle and lack of strategic alignment with vendors are some of the challenges we had faced in the past. The brand has overcome these challenges by working with a few strategic vendors and building a deep relationship with them over time.
In the last two years, the benefits of sourcing from Bangladesh have comparatively reduced as the cotton fibre has become more expensive. The major quantity of yarn for Bangladesh is exported from India and globally the benefits which Bangladesh gets from the yarn price difference are reduced, due to the short supply and high price of cotton.
Overall fashion retail is changing very fast and customers are becoming more demanding. We see the sourcing for D2C brands will have changes in terms of shorter/faster lead times and brands will have to increase or improve their product offering in terms of variety. Last, but not the least, all brands will have to offer good/improved quality products to their customers.