From making shopping easy for millennial mothers to adopting fresh perspectives at offline stores, Pune-based FirstCry has revamped baby apparel shopping in India. With a vast network of over 380 stores, the recently-funded start-up is looking at closing the year with 450 stores. Smaller cities and towns are now on the radar of this baby-apparel seller
For a country that produces over 25 million babies in a year, there can never be enough baby stores, which is also why the country is home to Asia’s largest online store for baby needs. Launched in the year 2010, FirstCry, owned by Pune-based BrainBees Solutions, is said to have more than 2 lakh SKUs. Speaking about the success of the brand, Supam Maheshwari, founder and CEO, FirstCry, says, “Some of the key factors that have led to the success of FirstCry include a highly motivated and professional team which has clarity of vision, defined, clear short-term goals, and a brilliant execution of all the milestones.”
Being an early market leader, FirstCry created a successful omnichannel model, which has led to many imitators in the market. “Both the online and offline channels are performing well, and with more offline store launches in the pipeline, we are sure that our customers will further enjoy shopping at FirstCry,” Maheshwari says.
FirstCry has been aggressively expanding its offline presence to further strengthen its hold over the children’s wear market.
While the brand has already opened more than 380 stores across Tier I, II and III cities, it is looking to close the year with the launch of 450 stores. It is aiming for smaller towns and cities for faster expansion. In 2016, FirstCry also acquired BabyOye, an offline brand that was owned by Mahindra Retail, as part of its expansion strategy. Interestingly, FirstCry has a strong franchise model, and more than 350 its stores are owned by franchisees.
The Franchise Route
“The franchising model is a scalable model. Many of our partners started with one store and now have multiple stores of FirstCry. We plan to scale up to more than 1,000 stores in the next few years through the franchise route.” Maheshwari says. Earlier this year, FirstCry raised USD 150 million from Japan-based Soft Bank, while it counts a number of investors in the venture, including IDG Ventures, SAIF Partners and Valiant Capital Partners. Industry giant Ratan Tata too is said to have picked up stakes in the company.
Total outlets: 380
Investment: Rs 50 lakhs to 2 crore
Area: 1,200-3,000 sq. feet
Breakeven: 18-24 months
Expansion: Tier II, III markets