Fashion With an Indian Flair
Aneesh Agarwaal, Payal Singhal, Pam Mehta. To fashionistas in India, those names are the equivalent of Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. In the U.S., not so much. Sunjay Guleria wants to change that. His two-year-old website, Exclusively.In, is a one-stop shop for fashion, jewelry, art, home décor, and other luxury items from the finest designers in India. All of Exclusively.In's orders are shipped from New Delhi, and though the company attracts mostly Indian American shoppers, Guleria's goal is to sell to a wider audience. "We want to be the go-to place for anyone looking for fashionable Indian stuff," he says. We asked four entrepreneurs for advice on how he can get there. —Shivani Vora
Give an incentive
Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, a Salt Lake City–based online discount retailer
Exclusively.In is beautifully designed, with beautiful products. But to bring in more people, it's going to have to rely on a viral buzz. I suggest giving members an incentive for telling others about the site. Guleria could offer visitors a $5 or $10 coupon for every friend they refer and have an option on the site's homepage where they can invite others to join. If everyone in the database brings in a few people, he can count on word of mouth to generate a wider audience.
Get bloggers on board
Susan Gregg Koger, co-founder of ModCloth, a San Francisco–based online retailer of independent fashion
Guleria should reach out to fashion and home décor bloggers and really engage them. Instead of sending out a standard press release, for example, he should take a more personal approach—figure out what each blog does and what its readers want to hear. I would also send these bloggers gift certificates to shop on the site. A recommendation from a trusted blogger is really powerful to customers.
Find a partner
Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics, a New York City–based nail-polish company
Partnerships and associations with established brands can be very important. So if Exclusively.In's buyers are well heeled, Guleria might focus on high-end hotels such as Four Seasons. Our partnerships were probably more important for our brand equity than any of our advertising.
Hit the road
Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing in Alexandria, Virginia
India has such a rich, incredible culture. This company is the ambassador of India, so I would suggest that Exclusively.In create a multisensory road show that brings this culture and what the company is offering to life. Guleria could set up pop-up stores, in malls and places with large crowds, in which Indian music plays and people wear Indian clothing. He should also have the spaces decorated with art and home décor items that the company sells. People will stop, look, and listen to what he has to say. He should ask them to become Facebook fans on the spot so they can continue the interaction with the website. This will really get the word out.
Feedback on the feedback:
Guleria finds all the suggestions useful. "We do give an incentive to members for referrals," he says, "but it's not on our homepage, so we can make it more visible." The company reached out to bloggers when it launched but didn't make a concerted effort. Guleria also appreciates Weingarten's tip about partnerships. The problem, he says, is that few upscale lifestyle brands focus on the South Asian market, so teaming up can be challenging. As for Nierenberg's idea of a road show, Guleria is considering a fashion show instead. "To bring in a broader audience, we could do a show that showcases our fashion and accessories," he says. "That would be more focused than a road show or pop-up store."