Start-ups are revolutionary and bring disruption to the industry. No matter what field it is, there are people who take risk to bring innovation in the industry and thereby help find solutions to certain challenges. The innovative ideas and creative minds have been bringing solutions to various challenges in the apparel industry giving retailers new ways of dealing with a situation. This article will talk about a few of the apparel retail start-ups that have brought disruption to the industry.
There are companies that have completely transformed certain processes of apparel retailing, increasing accuracy and efficiency through these steps. Stylumia, for example, is one such company that has successfully made its position in the market solving the challenge of product demand for many retailers. Started in 2015 by Ganesh Subramanian along with enterpreneur Ram Prakash H, the B2B software as a service (SaaS) platform, aims to assist the lifestyle and fashion brands take informed decisions which are consumer-driven. The solution focuses on real-time analytics for trend forecasting, which include trend forecasting and selling products accordingly. The company has shown a tremendous growth pattern and has worked with all the major retailers like Aeropostale, Myntra, Wrong, Fastrack, W, Biba, Global Desi and Puma. Furthermore, the company is planning to cross revenue of US $ 1 million this year and expects to cross over US $ 7-10 million by 2022. The company is now spread across different countries including the US, the UK, Brazil, Italy and the UAE.
Apparel industry is one complex industry to decode; the dynamic market demand keeps changing every now and then. Now it’s not just restricted to seasons, but rather in every 10 to 15 days, brands are introducing new products for their customers. This makes it difficult to manage the different processes involved in operating a seamless apparel retail industry. Let’s have a look at the emerging innovative ideas that have and hold the potential to ease out the task of managing a better apparel retail.
Two 19-year-old students of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Delhi University – Sanyam Gupta and Shivendra Mishra – came up with the idea to transform the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience for the customers. Since offline retailing is facing huge competition from the online market, the comfort and deals that are being offered when shopping online is something that the customers look up to. Inspired by the concept of ‘dynamic pricing’ in online retailing, where product pricing is adjusted based on certain circumstances like real-time supply and demand, the duo discovered RealTell, a company that focuses on easing the task for bricks-and-mortar stores with focus on increased footfall and sales.
The solution RealTell retail focuses on creating different combinations of prices for different combinations of products. The customers entering the store will need to scan the tag of the garment after which they will receive different deals involving different combinations at good prices. For example, if the combined price of products A and B is Rs. 3,000, the technology complex algorithm may help the customer get that product at a cheaper cost of Rs. 2,500. These price points are set after taking into account all the overhead expenditure involved in the manufacturing of the garment.
The start-up is backed by Ashish Mittal, Founder and Chief Mentor, TurningIdeas venture who helped them identify the pain areas and work on the solution for the retailers. The idea is very similar to the one being used by the e-commerce players where they analyse each and every data they get. When the customer puts any product in the wish list, the retailers start giving them offers on that product. “The USP of our product is dynamic pricing as this is something that has not been introduced in offline retail. Online retail is something that works on this model of dynamic pricing and it is something that has proved to be successful for them,” said Sanyam Gupta, Co-founder, RealTell.
The customers are benefited by saving money through different deals and retailers are benefited with the data available about the customers liking but not buying, and this data will help them with better product assortment in their stores.
The company has one more solution ‘RealTell Sale’ launched in February 2019 that is successfully implemented in more than 900 plus stores of Crimsoune Club, a leading lifestyle manufacturer. The solution allows retailers to manage their store operations with greater transparency, all through their mobile phones. This solution is majorly for the multi-brand stores and store format outlets, helping them better manage the attendance of the staff, creating better transparency for the brand owners and managers at the ground level of their retail operations. “Smartphone penetration has increased in India and in other countries as well; mobile phone has become a natural extension of the shopper. Keeping that in mind, the solutions that we make help apparel retailers set up a much more engaging customer experience as well as execute a smarter pricing strategy to serve the shopper and maximise long-term profits,” said Shivendra Misra, Co-founder, RealTell.
The company is further working to provide the best solutions for the retailers with its first step focusing on optimising the software and making the customer journey as smooth as possible. Its next step is to help the retailers use the data wisely for a better retail output.
Launched in January 2018, by Veer Mishra, Vivek Singh, Saurabh Shandilya and Saurabh Yadav, Veda Labs is an AI platform providing real-time store level insights allowing retailers to take informed decisions.
Its technology based on AI and computer vision empowers retailers to understand footfall, age, gender and repeat count of each customer that walks into the store. With the use of CCTV camera footage, the company works on providing an entire overview of the customer journey with footfall analysis, thus granting wholesalers, enterprises and retailers personalised experience for every customer, enhancing in-store experience. The technology works as the CCTV footage from its retail clients is run through the AI platform to generate actionable insights.
The technology’s deep neural network detects a customer and its advanced deep learning-driven tracking provides accurate footfall for any retail store. The real time data insights can help the retailers with unique advantages over their competitors, allowing them to have better sales conversion per customer walk-in, marketing ROI on store walk-in, store heat maps, etc.
Moreover, the facial detection algorithms can identify each face in the store and present the exact age group and gender of each walk-in customer, thus allowing retailers to plan and give offers based on their preference increasing the personalised experience for their customers. The better understanding of the type of customers based on gender and age will allow the retailers to plan inventory precisely, ultimately increasing the sales. The technology assures an accuracy of 98.5 per cent to predict the face comparison through data set as per their website.
Recently the start-up raised pre-Series A funding from Satin Neo Dimensions, an end-to-end retail store solution provider for an undisclosed amount. With this collaboration, Satvinder Singh, Managing Director of Satin Neo Dimensions will join the start-up board.
The funding will be utilised to expand its product capabilities into intelligent store fit-outs as well as scale the current products to store level analytics. The software is provided to customers as SaaS/software licence with a one time installation fee. The sales model includes a monthly per-store-per-month fee, ranging from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 15,000, depending upon the feature they sign up for.
Soon, the company is planning to roll out a public version of the app, which will allow users to automatically connect the Veda Labs platform to their CCTV cameras and perform basic level analytic. At present, the start-up claims to have two large-scale enterprises and brands as its clients. By the end of this calendar year, it is looking at deploying its solutions across 300 locations.
Founded by former Myntra executives Anshuman Agarwal, Rajul Jain and former Trilogy executive Romil Jain, INCREFF is a technology that solves one of the biggest challenges of the apparel industry that is managing inventory. The company is backed by Binny Bansal, Co-founder, Flipkart and 021 Capital, both of which aim to help the brands and retailers improve inventory turns by 2-3X.
IRIS by INCREFF is an intelligent merchandising, planning, buying, distribution platform that results in 4 to 6 inventory turns. “Fashion retail has very poor inventory (working capital) rotation in India. It does about two turns compared to global brands like Zara doing 10 to 12. Lower inventory turn leads to significant revenue and margin loss and high working capital needs which are very detrimental to growth. This led to the formation of INCREFF. We are solving this problem through our two technology platforms (INCREFF IRIS and INCREFF ASSURE) and one service (INCREFF WaaS) to bring in incredible efficiency on the supply side and in turn maximise the inventory rotation,” said Rajul Jain, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, INCREFF.
It has four modules including smart assortment plan, ideal buy plan, optimal store allocation and actionable business insights. The smart assortment plan identifies the products that have higher and consistent sell-through at lower discount rates, and predicts demand at the right granularity by creating product cluster based on as many as 22 attributes. It then predicts the right depth of each cluster at each store with true size-set ratio for each cluster across all sales points. Moreover, it identifies the right number of options for each product cluster across all sales points. The software is also capable of suggesting buying plan to maintain the right amount of inventory. It incorporates current inventory across all stores/warehouses and pipeline inventory creating a transparency across different channels. It also creates an optimal store allocation ensuring every piece of inventory reaches the right store according to the demand and need. Furthermore, it continuously monitors the KPIs in real time and reduces the time to market changes.
Another solution by the company is ASSURE, a web-based omnichannel fulfilment platform that creates a transparency of inventory between both online and offline channels. It assists in an integrated real-time inventory and order syncing across all channels in less than 20 seconds, and also provides a warehouse management system, order management system and inventory management system, exposing single view of inventory, across multiple warehouses to all sales channels (online, EBOs, marketplaces) and fulfils orders of all channels.
“In summary, our focus going forward will be to (a) grow revenue by 10x, (b) expand internationally in the US, Europe and Middle East and (c) become a global leading technology platform solving supply side of problems for brands and retailers,” commented Rajul.
Founded in 2018 by Ankit Jain, Anurag Bhatt and Sharad Lahoti, the Bengaluru-based B2B tech start-up aims to help online and offline retailers to take better decisions for merchandising and inventory management. The founders are batchmates from IIT Kanpur who have previously worked with e-commerce majors and corporations including Amazon, Flipkart, PayU, Capillary and McKinsey.
The company provides AI-driven merchandising and fulfilment solutions. The solutions include IntelliHawk, an inventory placement; IntelliSort, an AI-driven assortment planning for each store and IntelliFil, an AI-driven fulfilment solution.
The solution works to forecast dynamic demands of the market using technologies like machine learning coupled with advanced optimisation technique for accurate inventory and assortment decisions. IntelliHawk allows retailers to forecast demand based on past and current sales data. It automatically calculates the uplift due to seasonality, festival and external events. The system can also forecast the demand based on the SKU level once the store has collected the week’s data. The solution promises to reduce 60 per cent in stock-outs, increase revenue by 5 per cent and decrease merchandiser’s time by 70 per cent.
IntelliSort by the company helps stores to plan a better assortment that is decided and arranged according to the demand in the market. The software makes the task easy for the retailers as it divides the products based on similarity mapping where identical products are clustered together based on product attribute. The algorithm takes into consideration the data of similar stores and similar products rather than a single store that helps increase the diversity of learning data. It also forecasts the demand based on recursive calculation between width optimisation and corresponding changes in estimated demand. The solution promises to reduce 60 per cent in stock-outs, increase revenue by 5 per cent and decrease merchandiser’s time by 70 per cent.
IntelliFil is a solution for fulfilment in stores with dynamic availability. This is done by taking into consideration both the online and offline demand at each store and warehouse. It fulfils order from the stores or warehouse where the products are least likely to sell thus avoiding any excess inventory.
The company recently raised an investment worth more than US $ 5,00,000 from a clutch of angel investors. The start-up commented that the funds would be utilised to hire new talents built for its data science and data engineering team.
The solution has found its implementation in big names of the industry like W, Aurelia, Tokyo Talkies, Vishudh and Wishful.
The Mumbai-based TryNDBuy Fashion is solving one of the major pain areas for the online retailers, which is trying clothes before buying. Started in 2017 by Nitin Vats, the company provides a patented software which can be easily installed in the fashion retailers app.
The software works as a selfie-based module. It creates a digital trial room where the customers are allowed to try clothes on their virtual avatar. The technology encapsulated with AI also recommends them the best possible option, thus acting as a virtual stylist.
The software is super easy and exciting to use; the customers are required to enter their body measurements like height, weight, bust, waist and hips based on which it creates a digital avatar. The users can also choose the body shape that resembles them and then create their virtual avatar very similar to their body structure. The avatar created based on the measurement allows the customers to understand the length, fit and fall of the garment, assuring them of how the garment will look on their body type. “We have made a Photo Realistic virtual trial room in which the user can generate a photorealistic model by just uploading any photo of any person and by input of his/her basic data such as height and weight,” said Nitin. What makes the solution more exciting is that the customers can even choose similar hairstyle and skin tones finally creating a 3D lookalike of them. They are also allowed to change the background where they can try different dresses thus ensuring the look and size of the garment.
Moreover, the software also allows the retailers to convert the catalogue images of e-commerce portal into 3D clothes automatically, thus giving retailer the option to display more variety and option of garments. “We have developed a 3D engine which uses lot of AI and deep learning and computer vision for making realistic 3D clothes and 3D realistic model instantly. It is capable of even generating realistic video of a person with dress and look like almost real video,” explained Nitin.
The company charges a licence fee from the retailers. The solution is patent protected internationally and will evolve as users will use it. It considers more than 4,00,000 types of body shapes, sizes, skin tones and other features in it.
Virtu, based in Gurugram, India, is a company that is leveraging the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help retailers engage their customers in the stores. The company founded by Jaideep Sundriyal, encapsulates both the technologies in a device that aims to associate things with strong interactive visuals.
These technologies allow retailers to provide enhanced customer engagements, interactive advertisements, increased footfall, targeted footfall, customer report and insights. The interaction and engagement further allows a direct channel into the mind of the customers. It gives a detailed user report based on the customer’s behaviour and insights.
These smart mirrors also act as an interactive advertising screen where retailers can advertise for different products. These mirrors are then converted into trial mirrors allowing customers to shop for different products.
The company recently made an installation at Tom Tailor store, where the store received a footfall of 1,000 people just during the weekend, out of which almost 30 per cent tried the merchandise. The company has also made few installations at RedTape, Paytm mall, Kraus Jeans and easybuy.
“Virtu’s Vivid is an Augmented Reality-based 3D gesture enabled interactive virtual trial room for fashion brands. This product is doing great in terms of brand engagement and visual merchandising for various fashion brands. Vivid is a platform that helps fashion stores to showcase the best of their clothing and add an extra wow factor that helps customers relate better to their fashion brands. Would be more than happy to provide you information you require regarding this,” said Jaideep.