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Abhilasha Bahl who works for a leading e-commerce player, tells us, what it is like to head a women’s apparel section.
In this series, BriefCase, we meet women at work in different fields, different roles, to gain insight into their lives and work. With more women joining (or aspiring to) join the paid workforce, we live in exciting times, and this is an attempt to chronicle those times, one life at a time.
Abhilasha Bahl is the head of the Women’s Apparel Section at Reliance E-commerce. She has also been a part of the apparel launch team at Flipkart.
Abhilasha passed out of NIFT, Bangalore and went on to complete her MBA from ISB Hyderabad. She is also a budding entrepreneur and has a start-up named Fish-In-Water, an e-commerce site which brings easy DIY ideas and kits to your doorstep.
I would describe myself as curious. I love to explore new ideas and learn new things. Being part of a fast-evolving field like e-commerce, being curious is a must have quality because it prompts you to experiment, ask questions and try new approaches. It is an industry where processes are still developing and there are no set rules around how a certain thing needs to be done a curious mind can go a long way in building efficient processes ad finding innovative solutions.
Why did you choose this field?
Fashion and e-commerce are two things I am passionate about and I’m lucky to be spearheading the women’s wear category online at a renowned retail company. This role gives me the chance to be updated on the latest trends in fashion and also have a deep understanding of consumer behaviour. Also, being part of the fast paced e-commerce industry keeps me agile and experimenting with ideas all the time.
Describe your role so that it is understandable to someone who knows nothing about your industry.
Managing a category on a website involves in-depth understanding of the customer and the website’s positioning. The assortment of products needs to be built based on this. As a fashion category head I need to be updated on the latest trends which I need to present to the customer in the best possible way. Also, building strong understanding with all stakeholders like brands, marketing and technology teams takes you a long way in building a strong a sustainable category.
What is the most exciting part of your role and your field?
E-commerce is a fast evolving field hence it requires you to be agile. Each day has a new set of challenges and you need to be extremely flexible and open to new ideas to be able to find solutions and that for me is extremely exciting.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
My role requires me to be highly attentive and informed of all the new innovations that are happening and the latest trends that are coming up in the market. For this reason I need to multi-task a lot. It also involves working with a lot of people of different temperaments and understanding each one’s requirements. Although it is a challenge, yet it is also the most fun part of my job.
What is the common misconception about your field?
E-commerce seems to be the most glamorous field at this moment but it is a lot of hard work and needs a lot of agility in adapting to problems and finding innovative solutions.
If you had to change one thing about your field, what would it be?
I think the Indian consumer is already becoming quite confident in their fashion choices. They are no longer scared of experimenting and expressing their personal style through bold choices. I just want this trend to become more prominent.
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A part time backpacker, an accidental baker, a doting mother, a loving wife, a pampered
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