Thinking ahead: Soch to retail internationally starting next month

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Bengaluru | Published: March 14, 2015 12:57:41 AM

Ethnic apparel brand Soch is all set to enter international pastures. Come April and the decade-old brand will start retailing products...

Ethnic apparel brand Soch is all set to enter international pastures. Come April and the decade-old brand will start retailing products in countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Mauritius, Singapore, Indonesia, Malayasia and the UAE. Initially, the company will cart wares through its website before testing the waters and planning a physical presence in countries with maximum traction.

The brand, which expects to close this fiscal with a revenue of about Rs 240 crore, launched its portal six months back in India. At present, e-commerce accounts for about 7% of total sales. “We are going international next month. That’s a huge potential and we expect to do about 70% sales on our website through the international markets,” Vinay Chatlani, MD and CEO, Soch told FE.

The brand, which operates 54 company-owned stores, including just three franchise outlets in the country, will also contemplate opening franchise stores in the UAE, Sri Lanka, Australia, Canada and the US.

“We wanted to get the franchise system in India right first. We plan to open 10-15 franchises here next fiscal. By then, our international e-commerce will give us some indication about which countries are doing well,” Chatlani said, adding that he was looking to set up wholesale operations in countries where the brand is unlikely to establish a physical presence in the next five to 10 years.

The company has accumulated a database of 2 lakh international customers to reach out in the first month of operations. Besides, it has tied up with Fedex to handle logistics. The assortment of products will, however, be priced marginally higher than in India, a common practice to counterbalance the higher operating and logistical costs.

While products for international markets are usually priced 1.3-2.5 times higher, Chatlani plans to keep it on the lower side. “There is a lot of price comparison happening today. Several brands have different prices for different countries, but we will maintain a uniform multiple,” he added.

The brand has been growing at 46% annually for the last five years and plans to maintain growth of 40-50% next fiscal. Chatlani plans to launch about 35 new stores in 2015-16, including 10-15 franchises, with about three-fourth of them coming up in locations where the brand is already present.

“There are hardly a few options available to the Indian diaspora. Most Indian brands are online now and customers can also shop from the Indian sites. When it comes to going overseas, the brands have to viewed in the context of whether they open physical stores, which is a resource-heavy and expensive proposition. When it comes to demand, it is limited and seasonal as well,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail advisory firm Technopak.

While Soch gears up for its international foray through e-commerce, a handful of fashion and lifestyle portals are already curating a global clientele primarily comprising the Indian diaspora. In the fray are portals like Jabongworld, Artisangilt, Utsav Fashion and Cbazaar, which are gaining a foothold in overseas markets.

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