Purplle Patch For Beauty Commerce


Can Mumbai-based unicorn Purplle grab the limelight in the beauty ecommerce race Nykaa, Tira, Myntra and others?

There’s a battle brewing in India’s beauty ecommerce market. And the latest to arm themselves is Mumbai-based Purplle.

The beauty marketplace’s INR 1,000 Cr ($120 Mn) funding round has put it right against the likes of Nykaa, Reliance Retail’s Tira, The Good Glamm Group, Myntra, Tata Cliq, Meesho and others. Not to mention, the quick commerce platforms building up their inventories and luring beauty and personal care brands.

If anyone thought the days of marketplaces are over, the beauty segment is proving them wrong. The depth of the competition has made it harder to retain consumers, spurring private label launches and exclusive deals, bringing global brands to India.

Where does Purplle fit in this landscape and will the Mumbai-based unicorn be able to grab market share from more established players? That’s the question we are looking to answer this Sunday, but after a look at the top stories from our newsroom this week:

  • The Awfis Way: Coworking company Awfis’ public listing was followed by its first profitable quarter in March 2024. Founder and MD Amit Ramani opens up on the Awfis playbook thus far and how it plans to cross INR 1,000 Cr in revenue next year
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  • Koo Winds Down: Despite raising more than $50 Mn, Indian Twitter rival Koo has shut down after failing to establish a stable revenue model and losing millions of active users in the past two years. Here’s how Koo lost its mojo

What Worked For Purplle?

Remember the funding winter? Well, the inclement weather did not get to Purplle. It raised $34 Mn from Peak XV at a valuation of $700 Mn in January 2022, and five months later turned unicorn with another $33 Mn infusion led by South Korean investor Paramark Ventures.

Then in 2023, there were two secondary rounds before the INR 1,000 Cr round the company announced this week. Even as startups — particularly in the consumer internet space — struggled to raise funds, Purplle seems to have cracked the code.

Even as it raised these rounds, the company seems to have spent considerably to scale up in the past two years. It spent INR 738.3 Cr in FY23, for instance, 71% higher than the total expenditure of INR 431.2 Cr in the previous year.

The startup saw its operating revenue rise 116% to INR 474.9 Cr in FY23 from INR 219.8 Cr in FY22. However, net loss grew 13% to INR 230 Cr during the year from INR 203.6 Cr in FY22. Without knowing the FY24 numbers, it’s hard to say how much of the losses have been pulled back in the past fiscal year.

Measurable improvements in profitability is the primary criteria for investments in consumer services in 2024. So, does this large round mean Purplle has passed this test?

The company claimed it has quadrupled its gross merchandise value (GMV) in the last three years, but declined to respond to Inc42’s questions about how it has grown in the past year. “Purplle is operationally profitable and expects to grow its online platform faster than the industry while scaling offline stores and improving profitability,” a statement from the company added.

So what has worked for Purplle? According to analysts that watch the beauty space, it’s the ‘Meesho effect’.

Founded in 2012 by Manish Taneja and Rahul Dash, Purplle sells a wide range of beauty, personal care, skincare and cosmetics products, typically catering to households in Tier-II & III towns. Most of its GMV comes from smaller cities such as Mysore, Coimbatore, Kochi, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Siliguri.

“While the likes of Nykaa and even Tira have looked to build up a premium-focussed portfolio through partnerships with coveted brands, Purplle has gone the other way. It is focussing on the owned brands, which are more in the affordable category,” according to a Mumbai-based retail and ecommerce analyst.

This has allowed it to target the customers that are new to online shopping and see Nykaa and Tira, or even Myntra, as more premium options. The closest in terms of the positioning is SUGAR and Honasa, but the latter is not a marketplace and indeed both are key sellers on Purplle’s marketplace.

Reaping Rewards From Private Labels 

According to sources in the company, Purplle’s private label play  — built around the acquisitions of Faces Canada, Carmesi and Good Vibes — make up more than half of the GMV for Purplle.

Faces Canada remains the largest in the portfolio, commanding 60% of the sales, we were told. The private label play is being used as a competitive moat by the likes of Nykaa and Tira as well.

The primary reason a marketplace launches private labels is higher margins, according to Ashish Dhir, EVP (consumer and retail), 1Lattice. The funding raised by Purplle leaves it well positioned to add one or two more brands.

By introducing a company-owned brand, businesses can secure improved profit margins since they don’t have to part with the revenue as is typically the case with third-party brands.

For a marketplace, data from sales volumes, customer demographics, preferences, and buying behaviour from third-party brands is essential in developing private labels, which is an advantage that Purplle has over Honasa.

“Essentially, once you discern what customers desire in terms of product features and attributes, you can source those products from any manufacturer. Thus, what remains critical is the supply chain and sourcing capabilities, alongside offering competitive pricing,” Dhir added.

Moreover, beauty is becoming a big category on quick commerce platforms. For instance, many well-known new-age beauty products are now available nearly instantly on Swiggy Instamart, Zepto and Blinkit, as these platforms diversify beyond groceries.

Private labels could help Purplle, Nykaa and Tira differentiate themselves from quick commerce platforms and target the consumer who is more willing to experiment with new brands and therefore willing to pay more. Earlier, Nykaa said its owned brands in the beauty segment grew 39% in FY24, while Tira has also invested heavily in this space.

Tira rolled out private label brand Akind, marking its foray into the skincare space. This came after it launched two other private label brands in April and May.

Plugging Omnichannel Gaps

Purplle may be playing on the more affordable end of the market but eventually it will have to add more premium products to its mix for profitability. This is especially crucial for the company if it is indeed serious about an IPO in late 2025 or 2026, as reports this year claimed.

This is why Purplle’s latest round seems like a big moment for the company. It may be the final infusion before the IPO that would be expected to deliver big returns to investors such as Peak XV, ADIA, Premji Invest and others.

Purplle cofounder Taneja believes that data will be a key component in the company’s offline or omnichannel strategy. This is the clearest gap in Purplle’s business thus far, but in the past, the company claimed it is taking a measured approach to omnichannel since this is very different from ecommerce in terms of profitability.

“We will constantly innovate and leverage our technology and data capabilities to provide our customers with the best omnichannel experience,” Taneja was quoted as saying.

Every major marketplace has turned its focus to the offline channel and bridging online-offline gaps. Omnichannel operations are critical to tapping the large opportunity in the beauty market, which is the fifth largest category for ecommerce, as per Inc42 analysis.


The Indian beauty and personal care (BPC) market is projected to reach a size of $30 Bn by 2027, growing at an annual rate of 10%, making it the fastest-growing among large economies.

According to a McKinsey report, the per capita annual spend on beauty in India will grow to $15 by 2027, up from about $10 in 2023. The growing per capita spend in beauty is essential to support the private label thesis, as well as expansion on the omnichannel front.

Nykaa is currently in the lead when it comes to offline presence, with 187 stores. Meanwhile, Reliance’s Tira has opened 10 stores in less than a year. Currently, Purplle just has two offline stores, but the company plans to open 5-10 more in the next few months, leveraging the fresh funds.

Given Purplle’s scale, it’s rather surprising that it has been so slow to join the omnichannel rush. But as we have written above, the beauty segment has tremendous depth and untapped potential. So in Purplle’s case, it’s better late than never.

Sunday Roundup: Tech Stocks, Startup Funding & More

  • Indian startups collectively mopped up around $176 Mn in funding across 16 deals, but most of this came from Purplle’s $120 Mn round
  • Reliance is all set to bring Chinese fast-fashion label Shein back to India, after the latter received the government nod to relaunch in the country
  • Recently-listed online travel aggregator Ixigo posted a 212% jump in its net profit to INR 73.1 Cr in FY24 with train ticketing driving revenue growth

  • Paytm’s founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that the RBI action on the payments bank wasn’t the worst setback faced by the startup in its 14-year journey
  • Zepto cofounder and CEO Aadit Palicha believes that the startup valued at $3.6 Bn has the potential to surpass the valuation of retail chain DMart ($37 Bn) by focusing on India’s top 40 cities
  • The Karnataka High Court has restricted BYJU’S from allotting shares in its rights issue and await the final decision from NCLT
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