Photos: Chappers founder Harshwardhan Patwardhan and the range of footwear, with the fitting kiosk
January 24, 2023: The footwear market in India is dominated by informal sector players producing run-of-mill products, especially when it comes to men’s footwear.
Out of the 1 to 1.5 million pairs of shoes made for men daily in India, a staggering 85% are either black or brown. The reason behind this is the inventory challenge faced by retailers. At any given time, a retailer has up to 20% of ‘dead stock’ comprising footwear that can’t be sold.
This is a significant burden if we look at it from the cost and the real-estate value of the retail stores these days. This fear of accumulating ‘dead inventory’ has made retailers refrain from selling footwear with innovative colors and designs. While these concerns are absolutely genuine, it makes the end-user suffer because everyone gets to wear similar or identical-looking shoes, and there is hardly any option to create a unique, personal impression with each piece of footwear for the average user.
Chappers identified this challenge and has built a novel solution inspired by the iconic Kolhapuri chappals of Maharashtra and powered by advanced Augmented Reality technologies. This combination of hand-crafted quality and AR-powered creativity has now ushered in an era of freedom for consumers wherein each piece of footwear can stand out as a unique and unmistakable part of the customer’s persona.
In a typical footwear purchase experience, you walk into a store, see shoes lined up on display walls, and choose the right size. While this process allows customers to choose from the stock, it doesn’t have any scope for customization. You might see a design you love, but maybe you would have loved to add red or neon elements to it or wanted it in a different color and material altogether. Thus, the purchase is more about making do with the footwear closer to, but not exactly, what you wanted. It is this limitation that Chappers has eliminated through its technology-driven approach, which is scalable and profitable due to the capabilities of mass customizations.
When you walk into a Chappers store, there is a big touch-screen display. The screen would have thousands of pairs of designs for chappals and different types of shoes for you to choose from. After you find a design to your liking, you click on it, and the proprietary AR-driven software of Chappers offers a repertoire of over 10,000 possible customizations in terms of materials, accessories, colors, etc. Chappers provides full support for customers to add an accessory of their choice or completely own the shoe’s look by adding their initials to the design.
Once the design is locked, the AR takes over, and you get to see the look and feel of the product with India’s first 4K virtual customization experience. Then you can place the order, and the sales staff takes foot measurements to ensure absolute fit. You can go home, and within 48 hours, hand-crafted footwear, exactly the way you visualized and wanted it to be, is delivered to your doorstep in 2 to 3 days from order placement. The entire process is technology-driven, smooth, convenient, quick, and customizable.
The design and manufacturing process is 100% customer-defined, and every element, such as the sole colour, the accessories or positioning of one’s initials, and Chappers branding, is as per the customer’s choice. Thus, Chappers can deliver an excellent customer experience to all buyers. Whether it is a wedding where you want your style statement to go beyond the designer wear or a beach vacation at Goa where you want to enjoy comfortable, water-resistant footwear, Chappers makes it all possible.
Every piece is handcrafted and bears the legacy of the iconic Kolhapuri chappals. Thus, you can be assured that there will be no compromise on the style and quality of your footwear. That’s why Chappers has built a satisfied customer base of 25000 plus buyers within a short span of time, and the revenue for the last quarter was Rs 71 lakh. The inventory turnover ratio for Chappers is 20, which is 4X higher than the footwear industry average of 5. With the compulsion to stock huge inventories gone, the Chappers model is ideal for retailers as well because they can start operations with low investments in stock and earn more significant churn.
Chappers is now rapidly growing as a brand that has the potential to transform the Indian footwear industry and eventually become the leading custom footwear brand in the world.