In the world of apparel, beauty and accessories, luxury is synonymous with expensive. And it is expected that if you’re a fashion lover, you would be splurging at designer stores. It almost sounds like a fairytale when you hear fashion labels and young, talented designers with homegrown labels who are just starting out are often forgotten. But one brand has showcased the beauty of the collections by homegrown designers and brands, by merging consumer convenience with crafty collaborations, that too, at affordable prices.
TC46 connected with Shivaani & Saanchi Jain, the founders of Once Upon A Trunk, the modern Indian woman’s lifestyle marketplace. Here, Shivaani talks about making it to the Times’ list of 40 under 40, the journey of encapsulating tier 2 and tier 3 cities and the need for AI to reach the right audience.
1. What is your educational and professional background?
Brought up in Delhi, with an industrial background, the seed to own and grow a business was planted at a very young age in our minds. I did my Masters in Fashion Marketing from Pearl Academy, with a deep passion to lead a business in the life wear segment of e-Fashion.
Backed by a Bachelors in Design, Saanchi possesses a great sense of fashion. She has been driven by the vision of nurturing aesthetics and handpicked curation finds from all over the country and offers them to Indian customers.
2. What prompted the idea for ‘Once Upon A Trunk’?
It was the zest for fashion, designer wear and aesthetics that drove us towards creating an e-fashion marketplace that caters to women looking for affordable designer wear. The perfect amalgamation of our expertise in fashion and marketing was supported by our family. This helped us launch our business successfully.
3. How did you feel when you were featured on the Times’ list of 40 under 40 achievers?
Honoured! We felt privileged to be recognised for the efforts we’ve been diligently undertaking by a body of such high repute. To be associated with such an esteemed platform is a great achievement and it was a much welcoming boost for the entire team.
4. What was your first milestone and how did you get there?
Our journey began with a Home Trunk service in Delhi NCR with personal stylists and 30 orders per day. In the first couple of months, we secured 300 happy customers. During this time, we recognised the scarcity of affordable designer wear and the need for it. Taking our learnings forward, our first milestone was launching the website, Once Upon A Trunk to reach a larger audience with a bigger and diverse catalogue.
5. What are the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in India? What are your tips for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter this space?
Indian women are brought up to take care of everything. Managing everything right from home, family and relationships to office and business can be a humongous task. I believe we women have cultivated that superpower beautifully. However, there are some days when things can get hard and overwhelming.
There are so many incredibly talented women out there. I would advise them to use their skill in the right direction, trust themselves and never look back.
6. What were the 3 best business/financial decisions you made?
The first and foremost decision was investing in a good strong team. We have a bunch of strong, talented team members that keep the ball rolling through good and bad times.
The second one was to work with young aspiring designers who bring fresh new talent and designs to the platform frequently. They make Once Upon A Trunk unique and help us stand out in a clutter-filled market.
Finally, it would be opting for Smart Marketing Options. The usage of social commerce has been a great way of reaching and connecting with a larger audience effectively.
7. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? What was the turning point?
It took us about 12-18 months to monetise our venture. The turning point came when the website was up and running with reasonably good traffic pan India. Our reach from metropolitan cities to Tier-II and Tier-III cities was a turning point for the business.
8. Can you share 3 tips about pitching to investors that could help those who want to follow your path?
Make a comprehensive and detailed plan of your brand positioning. It should be completely clear with a hit-on description and explanation. When pitching to investors, show them your success story with each step you took to scale up. Help them get familiar with your plan which in turn will assist in winning their trust and belief in your venture.
9. How are you benefiting from the implementation of advanced personalisation with Netcore Cloud?
The personalised implementation of Netcore Cloud provides the perfect algorithm to help reach the right audience with their desired preference which in turn has contributed to a higher conversion rate. Netcore Cloud’s AI engine Raman helps us understand our customers better in real-time and our website is thus able to show each customer the most relevant and contextual products that they are more likely to buy.
With product recommendation widgets, deployed across all touchpoints of the customer journey, we were able to have a much more effective consumer engagement. As customers now find more relevant products, the bounce rate has significantly decreased. This has helped us improve the quality session duration on the website and we are also able to showcase new and potential styles better.
Customers are now purchasing more and this has led to an increase in Average Order Value. Within just 90 days, Netcore Cloud began contributing to 28% of the total revenue generated.
10. What suggestions would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start an online business or wants to shift their offline practices online?
Venturing into online practices is not an easy nut to crack but it’s definitely a more tactful manner of reaching a wider audience. It helps reach millions of consumers and bring them to your platform.
11. Who are the key employees/vendors you need to secure to work in this space?
In the e-commerce industry, every department is equally important. From customer care team to content, merchandising, tech and so on and so forth, it’s a team that holds each other stronger together. Whereas, with respect to vendors, we’re made out of all our vendors. Our aim is to grow and maximise as many of them as possible. So there’s no one particular vendor or employee, but all!
12. How do you intend to scale up/expand your business in the next 5 years?
We plan on scaling up our business from 300 to 1,000+ designers in the next one year. Active-wear and lounge-wear categories will be included, while we’ll also be increasing our size inclusivity base. Whereas, Once Upon A Trunk app will also be launched paralleling with an expansion of distribution channels to increase reach and demand, pan India and internationally. We also are foreseeing a great return on investment following our collaboration with Netcore Cloud and believe that this partnership will play a major role in us scaling further.
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