Listen to Suchita Salwan, co-founder, LBB on the changing nature of ecommerce and how LBB is adapting to this new paradigm

When e-commerce took off in the mid 90s, marketplaces like Amazon aggregated supply and channelled demand through aggressive advertising.

The e-commerce game is slowly but surely moving to a decentralised model, where on one end social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are adding shopping capability and on the other, companies like Shopify are helping merchants get their own websites up and running easily. Even the large horizontal players are experimenting with their own Thrasio-like models. Flipkart just announced Flipkart Boost, a programme to help D2C brands grow, with support, that ranges from planning to advertising and cataloguing to sales, under a ‘service fee approach’

LBB, an e-commerce platform that offers unique lifestyle products, is pioneering its own model of decentralised e-commerce, based on insights from its buyers and sellers.

The Greater Good

Today LBB serves 22 million consumers/users across eight Indian cities and has 10,000 brands and businesses on-board.

LBB’s typical seller averages about Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 5 crore in annual revenue and 60%-70% of them do not list on the giant horizontal marketplaces.

LBB’s typical buyer is a millennial from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 city. 65% of their user base is female who are not brand-loyal, but want an interesting selection of lifestyle products at reasonable prices.

Co-founder of LBB, Suchita Salwan, says they went back to thinking from first principles to ask what was best for this buyer and seller and came to the following conclusions:

  • Sellers are most in need of higher revenue, which in turn demands higher distribution
  • Customers should be able to find the products they want wherever they are shopping

This led to a somewhat contrarian model, where LBB will now help their merchants list on other platforms via a product called Mastershop.

“We believe that e-commerce today is not a zero-sum game. One or two big winners do not take all and there is room for differentiated platforms. Vertical platforms like LensKart and Nykaa have already proven this. If there are newer ways of doing e-commerce now, then we need to stop playing by the old rules.”

Suchita Salwan, Co-founder, LBB

Currently Mastershop enables merchants to list on Google Pay and Paytm and other partnerships are in the pipeline.

LBB has also launched Basecamp, an accelerator in collaboration with RPSG Capital to provide young brands with mentoring and capital.

Growth small D2C Brands
This tote from Old Tree is one of LBB’s best-selling products. Old Tree was discovered by LBB’s merchandise team and the platform was the brand’s first online channel. LBB’s Mastershop will help merchants like this create wider distribution by helping them list on other platforms. Image credit: LBB

Keeping the Moat Intact

Is LBB worried about cannibalising its own sales? “That” says Salwan, ”is exactly the kind of e-commerce 1.0 trap that we do not want to fall into. We believe that if we do what is best for the buyer and the seller, growth will happen naturally. We have seen that time and again on LBB. ”

LBB’s moat is is the user experience of serendipitous discovery and Salwan is confident that this is not threatened in any way by the decentralised model. Users look for products on LBB, not brands. “We understand how to balance aspiration and reality for our customers and give them what they want, at a price that makes sense for them – and that’s our biggest moat,” she says.

LBB’s genesis lies in content – it started as a lifestyle blog. Content’s trajectory from centralised to decentralised distribution is well-established and every publisher now offers content to its readers on multiple channels. Salwan is betting that e-commerce will follow a similar path. While it is early days for Mastershop, LBB has made a start with developing the ‘plumbing’ for a decentralised shopping world.

Suchita’s advice for e-commerce players

  1. All large brands have been aggregated
  • You can’t beat Amazon and Flipkart with the same supply. You need differentiation.
  1. Follow a supply strategy that is customer-first
  • Mass-tige pricing: Not so cheap that it erodes your platform, but not so premium that shopping with you is an occasion 
  • Do not aggregate mindlessly. Selection is more important than endless  supply
  • Perceived uniqueness of supply beats constant stream of new supply. Focus on the experience instead of adding more SKUs
  1. Merchants will ask for a lot, but pay for little
  • Think carefully before you allocate resources to development

4. Enable your merchants to go where customers are

  • That’s what LBB is doing with Mastershop

12 COMMENTS

  1. This is interesting. Merchants who become big because of better distribution can abandon LBB. But guess they are betting that India will have flow of small merchants

    • Vinay, India already has a massive flow of small to mid size businesses.
      65% of lifestyle retail is in the mid to long tail
      There’s 3.5 MILLION small to mid-size lifestyle brands and businesses (lifestyle vis a vis categories)
      The market already exists. We are simply mobilising it.

    • Only having a website does not = sales. Simply listing on multiple platforms too does not imply sales. I spoke with the THC team about this as well- there’s a lot of customer insight that goes into building a brand and driving demand, and that too is something we’re helping our merchant partners with. If you look at our stack of merchant opportunities- be it selling on our platform, selling on other platforms, raising money from VCs through basecamp, mentoring and knowledge sessions through our partnership w Microsoft… We’ve built an ecosystem of opportunity. Also, again, e-commerce is not a zero sum game 🙂 and even in the US, Shopify is not the only platform with significant market share.

    • Hey Akriti! Thanks for your feedback. We’re re-working our fashion selection 🙂 and you should hopefully see a fresher take on it post Diwali.
      Glad you like Home & Decor- most definitely my favorite section, along with healthy snacks.

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