Voonik is a personal shopping app which todays leads the market in the unbranded fashion category, with an annual gross merchandise volume rate of over $120 Million. The app utilises deep technology to enable personalisation for users, and is now among the most engaging e-commerce platforms in India. Guardian 20 spoke to Voonik’s co-founder and CEO, Sujayath Ali.  

Q. ​What was the vision behind Voonik?

A. It was 2013, when a shaky economy and uncertain business outlook made it a less than ideal time to turn entrepreneurial. But that’s when my co-founder Navaneetha and I launched our company, Voonik. I pitched my idea of creating a new way of shopping that enables users to buy what suits their build, lifestyle and budget. He was convinced. I returned to India in 2013 and Navaneetha quit Freshdesk to jump into our venture.

Q. What is Voonik’s USP?

A. Voonik is the only personalisation-based fashion platform in India. Which means that Voonik helps customers discover fashion most suited for them. Users can put in their style preferences such as skin colour, body shape and budget. Voonik’s personalisation algorithm runs through millions of products to find the collection best suited for the customer. Similarly, Mr Voonik is the only men’s exclusive fashion platform of the country. Being a marketplace, Voonik is the only platform that ensures the best price and best quality across thousands of sellers to show the best fashion collection as per user preferences. Recently, we launched Voonik TV, which is an in-app video shopping functionality. For the first time in India, customers can view videos and shop the merchandise within the same app. At Voonik, we continuously strive to make fashion more and more accessible and affordable to Indian consumers and help them make informed buying choices.

Q. Who is your target audience, and why?

A. Our ideal customer is anyone who loves variety in clothing and wants to look fashionable every day. This includes all women in the age group of 18-35 years, across metros and non-metros of the country. But since customers in non-metro cities and tier-3 and -4 cities have very limited access to latest fashion, we see our most loyal and frequent customers coming from these locations. Seventy-five percent of our orders come from non-metros and tier-2 and -3 cities. With consistent 3G/4G penetration, app downloads and shopping from these cities have surged. However, the pin code coverage, high rates of order rejected at the delivery point and such, remain key challenges. Towns like Jaipur, Coimbatore, Agra, Pune and some parts of the Northeast contribute to a healthy business margin.

Q. What kinds of sellers does Voonik prefer to work with?

A. Being a fashion company we have to keep bringing variety and the latest trends to customers. We love sellers who have a good infrastructure to produce the fresh fashion styles on a mass scale. Our guiding principle is superior customer experience. Therefore, we work with sellers who share our passion for customer service and ship the right quality as per agreed norms. Our seller management team works with the sellers to deliver our strict seller performance and seller profitability targets.

Q. Which special amenities are provided for the ease of customers on the Voonik app?

A. Online buyers across the country value product variety, timely delivery and product quality more than anything else. At Voonik we do everything to provide these three things to our customers at the lowest possible price. We have increased our pin-code coverage and courier partner network to deliver orders faster. Seventy-five percent of our orders are delivered within four days. To help customers track their orders, change the delivery address and mode of payment, we have created the self-service tool within the Voonik app. Now, with Voonik TV, users who are more comfortable in regional languages, can easily see the product and place an order without going through product descriptions. Soon, we’ll launch the regional language versions of the App, so that every Indian consumer will have a personalised shopping experience in the language she is most comfortable with.

Q. How do you think Voonik TV will help customers identify their needs and experiment with their choices?

A. The most influential medium online is video, which is language-agnostic and delivers a big message within 20-30 seconds. Voonik TV is the video commerce arm of Voonik. It allows users to visualise how a product will fit them and helps them shop through a dreamlike video experience. The engagement is ten times higher on the short videos and there is more scope for interaction. There’s more engagement from the tier-2 shoppers who are more receptive to visual and video content on social media rather than text or email formats.

Q. How do you keep tabs on what the average customer wants,  and what steps are taken to fulfil these demands?

A. There are three key indicators of demand. First is our Voonik Feed, which takes into account product engagement. Styles that get maximum likes and are bought most, indicate the demand. Second is the search words, our category teams keep a tight control on all customer searches. We keep feeding sellers with the new demand and they add products accordingly. Third is our demand forecasting team that tracks international fashion trends, Bollywood and overall celebrity dressing to forecast the trends and resulting demand in the coming months.

Q. What are the latest technology-related developments in the e-commerce arena?

A. The xext wave of online customers in India is coming from the socio-economic segment-B and below. Which means though people have a smart phone and mobile data, they are not tech-savvy and want everything in their regional language. These customers are also not too comfortable with typing. Therefore, e-commerce companies have to simplify their platforms to allow voice-based browsing and buying. At Voonik we’re experimenting with a couple of voice chat products and will soon launch something great for these new mobile data users. 

Q. What does the future hold for Voonik?

A. In the next 12-18 months, we’ll focus on our key goals. Scaling up Voonik TV, increasing Voonik Primo subscriber base and launching our in-house brands in all core categories will remain our major projects. We’re launching fashion brands that are a solution to big fashion problems, such as the right fit of jeans, footwear for vegan customers, availability of pure silk handcrafted sarees below the 3K price-point. These brands will drive our acquisitions and enhance value for our existing customers.


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