Baby products e-tailer Hushbabies.com, run by Lapis Marketing Pvt Ltd, seems to be the next niche e-com player to fall prey to the capital crunch in the market. While the portal is functioning as of now, it is not taking fresh orders. Half of the items listed on the portal are sold out; the site is asking users to purchase the remaining directly from Amazon.in. We tried to place an order to be delivered in Gurgaon and after the entire process when we tried to make the payment, the server said: "Our courier partners do not serve your delivery location" (see Pic 1). This is weird since Gurgaon is a tier-1 city; courier partners are unlikely to avoid the city as a delivery destination.
The Coimbatore-based three-year-old portal caters to babies and mothers and has warehouses in Delhi, Coimbatore and Bangalore. It is backed by Kalaari Capital, from which it raised two rounds of funding; the last one happened in June last year. It was co-founded by husband-wife duo Vidyasagar Kris and Praveena Dhinakar.
Also, the portal is offering some of its products to be directly purchased from Amazon.in (see Pic 2). The remaining products are all sold out. In addition, the customer care number listed on the portal is switched off. These are indications that something is wrong with the portal.
A report in Business World attributed some anonymous sources stating that the site is closing and as of now trying to refund all orders. An ex-employee of the company has been quoted as saying that all the employees were asked to leave recently. We tried reaching out to Praveena, but the email sent to her did not elicit a response.
This is the third e-commerce firm in Kalaari's portfolio that is shutting down. Earlier this year, the early-stage VC fund wrote off its investments in Indiaplaza.com and Seventymm.com. In another instance, e-commerce logistics firm Chhotu.in's investors stepped back and wrote off their investments due to its inability to raise subsequent funds.
In a capital constricted market, shutdown of niche e-commerce firms is quite evident. Over the last one year many shutdowns have taken place; these include Rock.in, Koolkart.com, MiraiStore.com and Aporv.com (see entire list here).
Though no official confirmation has been received yet there are strong indications to suggest that Hushbabies.com is geared up for a shutdown. We will update the post as soon as we get more information on the same.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)