Data-backed NPD: Purplle investing into tech that can help it ‘identify the bestsellers of tomorrow’

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Purplle is set to make significant investments into technology. [Purplle]
Purplle is set to make significant investments into technology. [Purplle]

Related tags: India, e-commerce

Indian beauty e-tailer and brand owner Purplle is set to make significant investments into technology that help them identify emerging trends well ahead of the market, after completing a U$75m funding drive.

Founded in 2012, Purplle claims to be one of India’s largest beauty e-tailers, and offers over 1000 brands and attracts over seven million monthly active users.

The company also owns a few brands including Purplle, Good Vibes and NY Bae.

In October, announced that it had received U$75m in funding led by Kedaara, Sequoia Capital India and Blume Ventures. In November, the company raised another U$65m, taking the total to U$140m.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia​, co-founder and CEO Manish Taneja said the company will use the new funds to invest in the firm’s technological capabilities.

He elaborated that there are three areas that the company is planning to invest in.

Firstly, it plans to invest in tools that can help consumers discover products better, such as augmented reality-enabled technology that can help consumers try makeup virtually.

It will also invest more into data science to further improve personalisation for the consumer in regard to the product search and discovery process.

Lastly, Purplle is planning to build what it has dubbed the Beauty Intelligence Suite.

Using machine learning, the Beauty Intelligence Suite will be able to analyse the products that consumers are looking for and help them identify emerging trends by crawling through information on the web.

“Instead of buying a report from a research agency, you have this backend tool that can tell you what’s happening on Amazon, Sephora… It can tell you what’s happening in the world of face washes… If you save this data every week you can plot a trend. Basically, it can tell you what the supply gaps in India are that consumers are talking about on Instagram, YouTube and Google,” ​said Taneja.

“The idea is to identify the best sellers of tomorrow well in advance, rather than knowing what is already big today.”

With this technology, the company believes it can significantly limit the risks associated with new product developments.

“We wanted all of our product launch decisions to be data-backed, and not backed by what you and I or anybody else in the office think about what product to launch. In the last three or four years that we've been using this, we've had a very high success rate with products launched on the back of data.”

For instance, said Teneja, the company used data to identify that toners and serums were going to be in demand in India early on.

“Toners used to be a small business in India five years ago. Today, we are only of the largest sellers of toners in India. When the data predicts a trend, you can pretty much ride on that trend for a long period of time.”

Future of Purplle

The company believes the latest investment will augment the company’s goal to deliver six to eight times growth in the next five years.

Within the next two years, Taneja predicts it will be three times larger than it is currently.

The company is working towards becoming an omnichannel business and has plans to expand its offline presence.

At the moment, the company operates primarily online and offline accounts for less than 5% of its business.

“My view is that online and offline will continue to coexist because they serve very different purposes. We want to increase our offline business. I think it will grow significantly faster than our online business, because of just the sheer scale – it’s much smaller today, so it can grow faster,” ​said Taneja.

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