By Tech in Asia
While fashion giants like Zalora, VIP Plaza, and BerryBenka are arguably the most well-known players in Indonesia’s clothing eCommerce space, 22-year-old Julian Tanoto is out to prove that small boutique stores still have their place in the local internet market.
TechInAsia.com reports that Tanoto is a fresh graduate of Binus International University in Jakarta and claims her small-scale fashion ecommerce startup, Cloth Inc, is already bringing in Rp 250 million (US$20,677) in revenue per month. That figure is not shabby for a pint-sized bootstrapped operation in an already crowded market.
Tanoto describes Cloth Inc as a true business-to-consumer eCommerce site. The company holds its own inventory, and Tanoto says her startup is more than just an online shop, but also a clothing line in and of itself. Tanoto and her team handle everything from the sketch design phase to the material sourcing and manufacturing process, before finally putting the the clothes up online.
Tanoto started raising capital for Cloth Inc with nothing but a laptop and a social media page back in 2010. “I started with zero money, literally zero it was just a simple Facebook store selling printed T-shirts that I got from suppliers I found on internet. But because of that, I started making my own money.”
According to Tanoto, Cloth Inc officially launched its webstore in 2012 and was able to earn Rp 850 million (US$70,000) in revenue during its first year, followed by Rp 1.7 billion (US$139,883) in its second year. She claims that her company has pulled in Rp 2.4 billion (US$197,482) so far this year.
Because Cloth Inc designs and makes the clothes itself, its competitive market advantage is that it can test local demand for certain products using the web before manufacturing an entire inventory. Depending on the latest fashion trends the Cloth Inc team observes in the Indonesian market, Tanoto claims the company can pivot its products quickly, something larger companies are simply not able to do.
“This allows us to use a fast fashion business model that is very rarely used by local brands,” explains Tanoto. “Many countries have also started to look for Indonesian local brands… So it’s also an opportunity for us to proudly introduce our Indonesian brand to the international market.”
According to Tanoto, Cloth Inc currently has 4,000 active users out of 11,000 total registered users. She classifies active users as anyone who has made a purchase on Cloth Inc within the last three months. Tanoto says she is confident that Cloth Inc can double its current revenue figures within three to five years
Companies like Cloth Inc are interesting in the Indonesian market as they show that small and agile start-ups can still find comfortable spaces in a sector full of direct competitors that boast Rocket Internet funding, sophisticated resources, and a developed company infrastructure. “While most of the local brands differentiate their product styles with very segmented characteristics, we emphasize our uniqueness by delivering as many of the latest trends and styles as we can,” says Tanoto.