The Indian market is highly fragmented in smart accessories. Komal Agarwal, Founder and Marketing Director, Pebble Accessories spoke to BE’s Aritra Mitra on being a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated IT industry and other prospects in the industry.
Q. What is the USP of your company?
A. In 2013, Pebble Accessories entered the Indian market. It is a known fact that the Indian market is highly fragmented and it still continues to be so. With the online boom, price point- affordability became the key selling points for all brands. However, in order to get away from the ‘price war’ Pebble carved a niche itself by focusing on design, quality and after sales service. The USP of the brand lies predominantly on its thoughtful and user-friendly design that can be seen in every product. Though the market followed the online trend, Pebble stood firm on its ground. It focused on offline market with its omni-channel model and dedicated customer service, which involves doorstep replacement facility.
Q. How do you deal with the competition from other companies?
A. We do not foresee another brand in this space disrupting our market share in the near future as we have a wide and varied product portfolio for mobile accessories, which few others in India have.
The most important thing is that Pebble is specialised in mobile accessories, whereas for many other brands selling mobile accessories is a secondary business whereas other products such as mobile phones as their primary business. We are specialised in providing mobile accessories where we focus all our attention and resources. Again most of the small players currently are either channel specific (online or offline only) or region specific, unlike Pebble that has an omni-channel presence. And majority of them focus only on price, whereas we have tried to position ourselves as affordable premium, which is well reflected in our products and pricing.
Q. What are the problems faced by you as a young woman entrepreneur?
A. Coming from a business family, I have always been inspired by my parents who are serial entrepreneurs and observed how they tackle the ups and downs in a business with a calm and clear mind.
Though that has really helped me in my journey, the road has not always been easy and smooth. Electronics and its distribution is an established industry and primarily male- dominated. Thus, sometimes an extra time and effort goes into pitching my ideas in order to be taken more seriously, especially considering the age at which I started. Having said that, I have proved my mantle and today the brand has shown a phenomenal growth and considered among the premium categories for mobile accessories in the Indian market.
Q. Please tell us about your outreach and plans for the company.
A. Our company is planning to establish an extensive footing at pan India level and many international markets. We currently are focusing on experience centers to establish strong connect with the customers. Very recently we announced tie up with Vodafone Stores (4000 Vodafone-Idea Stores) and became the exclusive and only brand for accessories in-store. Apart from that we are very aggressive at the tertiary level too and have mapped the full landscape at ground level.
We have also already launched the brand in international markets such the Middle-East and Africa. On the product front, we are working upon several new and first timer technologies for the Industry. With the current portfolio and upcoming innovations, we are looking to expand in Asia as well as western markets in the next five years. By 2023, we see ourselves as one of the leading and premium smart accessories brands in the world.
Q. How has the economic slowdown impacted your business?
A. The economic slowdown has not impacted our business in a major way. The main concern has been that the overall footfall in markets is lesser, due to which sell out is slightly slower than before. Also, a lot of retail partners expect more credit to run their businesses smoothly.