#Asia With funding from Sinar Mas VC arm, fashion startup Cantik comes out of closet

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Cantik team

It would appear tech entrepreneurs in Indonesia are still bullish on fashion ecommerce despite the shutdown of one startup and the overarching dominance of Rocket Internet’s Zalora.

Earlier this week, a new startup called Cantik revealed to Tech in Asia that it’s now backed by Sinar Mas Digital Ventures (SMDV), the VC arm of Indonesia’s family-owned conglomerate Sinar Mas. The firm did not disclose the amount invested nor the details of the deal, but it did say the venture was fully bootstrapped prior to getting SMDV’s attention.

Although the startup claims it’s been running in stealth mode since June, Cantik’s official coming out ceremony was yesterday. Cantik looks like a pretty standard women’s fashion ecommerce portal, aiming at a broad audience with mid- to low-range income levels. The site offers a variety of cheap and trendy clothes, including dresses, tops, Muslimwear, shoes, bags, accessories, and beauty products.

“A group of us shared the same vision that generally women in Indonesia still don’t have sufficient access to good quality and fashion products at affordable price levels,” says co-founder and COO Sam Tanuwidjaja, a former VP of business intelligence at Lazada Indonesia. “The vast geography and inequality of retail penetration put those living in rural areas at a disadvantage. With this, our resolution is to reach out to the bigger part of the socio-pyramid and offer products which meet their needs.”

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See: 24 trendy Zalora competitors in Southeast Asia

Hungrier fashionistas

Sam is not shy to say that Cantik aims to compete directly with Indonesia’s fashion incumbents, including homegrown sweetheart Berrybenka and fast fashion behemoth Zalora. The startup will also inevitably compete with brick-and-mortar department stores.

For Cantik, however, low prices are the name of the game. Price tags clock in anywhere between IDR 99,000 (US$7.19) TO IDR 500,000 (US$36.00), a steal by middle-class affluent standards. “Our product styles and assortments are very much market driven,” says Sam. “They are handpicked and inspired based on the what the market favors and demands. Product sourcing is very strict and targeted, that way we are able to control our quality and assortment to be on point with our aspiration in keeping quality high, prices low, and […] customers happy.”

Sam believes that as internet penetration spreads to more people across Indonesia, the online fashion industry will only get “bigger and hungrier.”

Sam did not disclose the hard traction numbers on Cantik, but he did say the company has been able to maintain a 50 percent monthly growth rate with a more than 30 percent repeat purchase rate since inception. SimilarWeb says the firm clocked an estimated 15,000 desktop visits last month, down from 50,000 in July. Cantik claims to have a merchandise return rate of less than 1 percent.

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“We are making it possible for all women across the country to be able to have access to quality and fashionable products at affordable prices, regardless of their location and their social [or] economic status,” says Sam. “The potential market for Indonesia and even Southeast Asia or beyond is endless. It has everything to do with selecting a basic product that everyone in any market understands right off the bat.”

He adds that Cantik currently sources its merchandise on a consignment basis and direct purchasing from suppliers across the country, which keeps the firm’s overhead costs relatively low.

This post With funding from Sinar Mas VC arm, fashion startup Cantik comes out of closet appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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