India's Zappos enters private label biz, Bestylish launches footwear brands

21 Sep, 2012

Smile Group's online shoe store, the Indian equivalent of global online footwear retailer Zappos, has quietly launched its own label of women and men footwear. The men's footwear brand called Fermani was launched a couple of months ago, while the women's brand called Aria went live today.

Speaking to, Shailen Amin, co-founder & CEO, Bestylish said: "If I want to grow in this category I have to expand the market. There are only a handful of brands of shoes available in India and those are available almost everywhere. To make my offerings broad and better this seemed the most logical step," he added.

Launched in May 2011 Bestylish focuses on multi-brand retail of footwear for men, women and kids. Recently, it has also added selected SKUs in bags and socks as complimentary items.

According to Amin, in just two months Fermani is already contributing to about 20 per cent or a fifth of its sales for the men's category and the e-com firm is looking at enhancing it to about 50 per cent in near future.

Private label business allows retailers to offer a separate price point to consumers as well as bring higher margins for the retailer as compared to thinner margins offered by branded vendors.

Amin said the firm does not want to restrict the two private labels as Bestylish brands and would even look at offline distributorship for the same. "It's an opportunity within the footwear vertical that we are taking advantage of because we know the space. We would let Fermani and Aria develop as separate entities," he added. A private label for kids footwear is also under development, Amin said.

Bestlyish raised around $13 million from Russian investor ruNet in June this year and according to Amin this capital would last till the end of next year.

He said that online shoe e-tailing is different from other categories since its niche and people don't buy shoes multiple times in a month. "We keep engaging with our customer. We enjoy 50 per cent repeat buying customers since our range is very wide and exclusive," Amin said.

Average customer acquisition cost to Bestylish is about Rs 800 and average transaction size is in the range of Rs 1,500-2,000. It claims a growth rate of about 15-20 per cent month on month.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)