Going forward, such brands “would gain prominence if their fulfillment is on track and quality of products is very good,” said Vidhya Shankar, executive director at advisory firm Grant Thornton. Club Factory has brought shipment timelines down to under 12 days on average compared to the few weeks rival Chinese apps take to deliver. And even as a survey of 200 customers cited unreliable sizing as a major concern, 60% of the respondents said the quality of the apparel on the site was “decent.”

However, this stunning growth could soon hit a wall.

“Chinese apps always have problem of trust. Any policy change can impact their business,” said Yugal Joshi, vice-president at Texas-based consultancy Everest Group. “The government had already cracked down on the way these products are being shipped given it is a cross-border transaction.” Though these apps “still have a strong runway to work on,” they will “see a plateau and then decline,” Joshi said.

Under current Indian customs rules, personal gifts priced at under Rs5,000 are exempt from duties—a provision the Chinese have been exploiting, Indian seller-portals complain. The customs department found red flags such as multiple “gift” deliveries being made to the same address and heavy 15kg parcels with declared value of a mere Rs3,000 being brought in. So, the government is considering cracking down on the practice by tracking the source country and consignor-consignee details, besides limiting the number of such orders.

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