The pandemic has made online shopping everyone’s best friend. Be it just one pen, a sudden craving for your favourite sweet, a single grocery item, or a dress, everything is available with one click.
But when it comes to online shopping, two problems are commonplace — the fit and quality.
Wouldn’t it be a dream, then, to combine the best of both worlds — the comfort of online shopping with the experience of visiting a physical store? For Chennai residents, this is a new reality thanks to Pikbig, a “boutique on wheels” that brings a variety of fashion choices to one’s doorstep.
The fashion store caters to women and has Indian as well as western wear, including kurtis, t-shirts, sarees, gowns and dresses.
After running a successful brick and mortar store in Chennai and a website, founder Karthick G wanted to explore a new avenue. Wanting to establish “a Swiggy-like platform for fashion”, the 32-year-old thought of a boutique on wheels.
“If food can be delivered at a person’s house, we can deliver clothes too. But the problem with online shopping is that while a product may look attractive, we aren’t sure of the quality. I thought that having the ability to check the quality and size of the product, and having it delivered to your doorstep would be the best solution,” says Karthick in a conversation with The Better India.
Fashion at your doorstep
This boutique on wheels was officially launched in Chennai in October this year.
“We started by taking permission from apartments and would take our bus there. Slowly, people started noticing us and contacting us. Our idea is to go on an appointment basis. When people call us, they tell us the kind of collection they want, and we carry clothes accordingly. Now, we mostly move on appointments only,” explains Karthick.
The bus has an area of 100 square feet and the capacity to store 300 sarees or dresses at a time, of which 150 can be on display). It also has a trial room.
Karthick, who is an MBA graduate, explains, “After finishing my MBA in HR & Marketing in 2012, I worked in two-three companies, but my interest was always in fashion. Around four years ago, when businesses were booming on WhatsApp and Facebook, I had started a small business.”
“I would buy clothes from wholesalers in Mumbai and Surat and sell it to people in Chennai. I built a good customer base, but as many people started doing it, the orders started getting diluted,” he adds.
That was when the entrepreneur thought of starting an organised platform for people to order clothes.
‘The Swiggy of garments’
However, life had other plans. In 2018, Karthick had to go to Nagercoil to handle his family business of a nursery garden.
“[But] I kept researching the garments business on the side. I had this idea of a bus on wheels for a long time. It finally came to fruition and I bought a bus too, but then COVID came. So I launched a website and brick and mortar store before launching the bus,” says Karthick.
Initially, he thought he could “offer exclusive collections” using this concept, but the response made him change his outlook. Now, the bus offers clothes starting at Rs 500.
“I conducted many trials when the bus was in Nagercoil. Even in Chennai, first we went and understood what customers wanted. Based on their feedback, we keep improving. Some want us to get more varieties, sizes etc. Some want just silk sarees while some want daily wear
Customers are also happy with the concept.
Ranjitha, a resident of Adyar, says, “The pandemic has changed our shopping habits. I’m no longer comfortable going to crowded shops. I’m also not happy with the quality of most clothes we order online. When I saw Pikbig’s boutique in my area, I was thrilled. Their products were also good and the shopping experience was different and exclusive.”
Meanwhile, Karthick says his aim is to provide a good shopping experience along with quality products. The garments are sourced from across the country like Surat, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Tiruppur, and Ludhiana.
He hopes to develop this business model and replicate it across the country.
“We are already getting a lot of interest from others who want to start a boutique on wheels. We want to make this an e-commerce model, with a website as well as a bus. We are in talks with investors. I want this to become the Swiggy of garments,” says Karthick.
Edited by Divya Sethu