Five years ago when online shopping and luxury products could never be spoken of in the same breath, along came a niche premium portal, Jaypore.com, that changed all that. From curating a clutch of fine Indian jewellery and apparel at first to spanning an entire gamut of diverse art and craft today, Jaypore now is now an online empire of thousands of top of the line products with the best of labels and artisans vying with each other to be on its rolls. We catch up with the portal’s co-founder, Shilpa Sharma, to find out the secret to its stupendous success. Tell us a bit about yourself and how it all began.
I started my career in advertising over 25 years ago, but moved on to work in FMCG with companies like Marico and Cadbury’s India and then went on to join Fabindia. I was with Fabindia for over 12 years. Through the course of my work, I have been deeply involved with the handloom and craft communities and it was the desire to bring the amazing legacy to the global forefront that fuelled the decision to launch Jaypore.
I teamed up with Puneet Chawla in August 2012 and together we launched Jaypore as an iPad-only shopping solution. By the time we opened up to India and the rest of the world, it was January 2013. We wanted to contribute to the revival of the dying craft heritage of India and give it a viable business platform.
What were the challenges you faced?
Especially because you were a pricey brand in an online space. One of the main challenges for us in the earlier days was the scarcity of resources. Over the years, we have faced some difficulty in creating a niche for ourselves in an online marketplace driven by deep discounts. Another challenge, or rather an opportunity, is to give our customers a ‘touch and feel’ experience of what the brand has to offer. As we grow, omni-channel is the way to go.
Has the journey been satisfying?
We have been fortunate in being able to create a niche and a loyal customer base. We have sustained and grown our revenue year on year and are very optimistic for our future. Today, our product inventory continues to grow extensively and our product categories range across apparel, jewellery, home textiles and accents, traditional and contemporary art and more.
How many vendors did you start with and how many do you have now?
We started with eight and today we have over 900 vendors.
How do you pick them?
At Jaypore, we are creating a brand that embodies everything we love about India—from classic and traditional to contemporary. And this philosophy guides us in choosing our partners and products. We want to bring the best of Indian craft and design on our platform. They have to be able to conform to the high standards of quality and delivery. We need for them to be willing to invest in design upgrade and we have a zero tolerance for plagiarism.
Do you go looking for vendors or do they approach you? How does it work?
While we have vendors approaching us on a daily basis, we are also constantly on the lookout for strong design communities/companies/individual designers, anyone who is working with hand crafted designs and with a contemporary Indian design language.
Do you at any point wish to start a brick and mortar store?
Like I said before, while there are numerous advantages to selling online, the way forward today is an omni-channel approach that combines the ease of shopping online with an experiential touch and feel aspect of a brick and mortar space. There are large segments of customers who are not comfortable with buying clothes and jewellery online, and need a touch and feel experience. We are definitely interested in exploring offline avenues of engaging with our customers and are looking into ways of doing so.