And last year, even amidst the pandemic-induced challenges such as lockdowns and operational hiccups, the brand’s annual revenue touched Rs 7.8 crore. “One of the reasons that my business was able to tide over the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis was because of the support that the e-commerce platform provided,” says Prathap Babu, the founder of the apparel brand. Reya is an apparel brand that has its roots in Chennai. Founded by Prathap in 2013, it uses e-commerce platform Flipkart to reach customers from Meghalaya to Jammu and Kashmir, clocking around 1,000 orders every day.
“I am able to cater to customers across the country with the same efficiency, speed and cost,” says Prathap. This is possible because of two key factors: Flipkart’s logistics and warehousing support, and its reach. Reya simply stocks its products at the Flipkart fulfillment centres that are closest to customers, The orders are hence dispatched from the nearest warehouse, instead of all the way from Tamil Nadu.
In 2019-20, Reya clocked an annual revenue of Rs 6.5 crore. e account management team at Flipkart was quick to respond to queries, and suggested business strategies backed by data and analytics.”
Reya retails a range of women’s and men’s wear on Flipkart. The men’s wear is made at its in-house production unit in Tirupur. “We source the raw materials, which are then tailored,” Prathap says. “While there are other brands that use similar quality fabric, the price is often 40 percent higher than Reya. The in-house production unit has helped us drive the cost advantage for the brand.”
Interestingly, for the women’s apparel Reya sells, it does not own a manufacturing unit yet. The apparels are sourced from Surat and Rajasthan. “But the manufacturing is made based on the designs we provide. And, this helps to bring distinctness to the women’s wear.”
A parallel journey of growth
As a brand that began its journey on Flipkart in 2013, Prathap has been privy to the e-commerce platform’s increasing market reach and the platform expansion while simultaneously bringing down the order shipment time from six days to same day delivery. “With Flipkart consistently expanding services across thousands of pin codes, we have seen a consistent growth in the inflow of orders. The addition of new product categories brought more people to the platform. This also had a cascading effect and benefited us.”
Prathap vouches for Flipkart’s ability to drive growth for small businesses and brands. “With Flipkart, it’s about consistent growth. In my knowledge and experience, I have not come across a platform that matches the growth and stability that Flipkart provides,” Prathap says.
The growth is not driven by just the platform’s reach, ease of delivery or even product quality. Prathap points to the access to Flipkart’s data analytics and guidance. “The advertising benefits we receive from Flipkart have helped us regain visibility for products that witnessed fewer orders. We were advised to create Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as well, which helped us gain many more customers for the business,” he explains.
Today, Reya stands out as one of the most popular and highest selling brands on Flipkart.
“Over the years, we have received several awards from Flipkart for our performance on the platform. We have also been ranked consistently as one of the best performing sellers on the marketplace in Chennai,” Prathap says, brimming with a sense of accomplishment. “Every year, I am breaking my own record for sales. As much as I work hard, I credit Flipkart for my achievement. With the customer reach, logistics and guidance in terms of growing the business, Flipkart helps us focus on increasing our business as it takes care of most of the operations.
Reya’s journey from a small-time apparel business to becoming a growing brand is not unheard of. In fact, several sellers of successful brands on Flipkart like Reya, have had a humbling start. Prathap says, “My association with Flipkart started with only single digit orders, and that changed after many months of patience and slow expansion of my portfolio. Today, my portfolio has one of the widest ranges of apparel.”
Quality at the heart of business growth
For a brand that retails exclusively online, the product quality is what helps to establish trust and connect. “In a physical retail store, a business has the opportunity to convince the customer who is in front of you. For an online store, the product speaks for the brand,” Prathap notes.
He shares an instance when Reya saw a dip in product quality that went unnoticed. This resulted in a dip in sales. But after taking note of customer feedback, Prathap realised the challenge at hand. Fixing the quality issue saw the product regain its sales numbers. “As a seller, your focus should be on the product. Because, Flipkart takes care of the rest.”
Prathap is optimistic. He says work is underway to expand Reya’s manufacturing capabilities. “We are manufacturing men’s T-shirts in-house. And, it has become our bestseller. We are looking at manufacturing trousers and innerwear as well.”
Prathap’s tryst with entrepreneurship or decision to become a seller on Flipkart wasn’t planned. “Right after college, I started working in an insurance company in Chennai,” he recalls. “While the experience was rewarding initially, with time growth opportunities became limited or came at a cost of moving cities. I wanted to be based in Chennai for my family,” he adds. That prompted Prathap to take a shot at entrepreneurship. “Tamil Nadu has a strong manufacturing sector, especially in apparels. I began an export business. However, when I learnt about Flipkart, I decided to take a detour and explore opportunities in the Indian market. Today, I am glad I trusted my instincts.”