Online stores selling intimate wear are seeing their sales soar as the range of products on offer and the privacy of internet shopping draw customers by the hordes. The rapid pace of growth at these companies, which sell global and in-house brands, has made this one of the fastest-growing segments in Indian e-commerce.
“Innerwear has gone beyond functionality,” said Richa Kar, founder of online premium lingerie retailer Zivame. “Women are demanding more options and they are not finding this offline.” She said Zivame, which was set up in 2011, is growing at 400% annually and is expected to earn revenues of about . 300 crore this fiscal.
Kar, 32, an alumnus of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, was working on a project for iconic lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret when the idea of launching her own innerwear company struck her.
Zivame, whose product range includes cellulite-controlling innerwear, swimwear and shapewear, raised . 18 crore last year from IDG Ventures and Kalaari Capital.Accessibility and Range Attracting CustomersOver the past couple years, other ventures like Moods of Cloe, Peri Peri Skinwear, Under Cover Lingerie and Pretty Secrets have also made their mark in this burgeoning market. Advisory firm Technopak estimates the women’s innerwear market, which is currently worth about . 9,500 crore, to grow at an annual rate of 14%. “This is a high-potential market that has been dominated by unorganised players,” said Pragya Singh, an associate director at Technopak. It is the accessibility and range that online stores offer that is attracting customers like 30-year-old Surabhi Priya.
“I am plus size and brick-and-mortar stores just don’t stock them,” said the Delhi-based human resources professional who spends about . 2,500 at online innerwear stores every three months. Companies like Pretty Secrets and Moods of Cloe have launched their own brands of innerwear.
Mumbai-based Pretty Secrets started out as a brick-and-mortar company in 2005, with its network growing to 200 stores in just six years. However, the strong online sales led founder Karan Behal to shut down the stores and concentrate solely on e-commerce last year.
“With the stores we were able to reach just 35 cities, but on the online portal we have delivered to over 300 locations,” said 31-year-old Behal, who expects his company to earn revenues of . 150 crore in fiscal 2016.
Neha Kant, cofounder of six-month-old Moods of Cloe, said the highly fragmented market has space for more brands. “Indian women are yet to decide on their favourite brand. The field is wide open,” said Kant.
The Delhi-based venture expects to earn revenue of . 12 crore in fiscal 2014. To meet customer demands for right fits, these online portals are also investing in technology. Moods of Cloe has an online test that customers need to take for getting personalised recommendations for fit and size. Kant said over 30,000 users have taken this test so far. About four out of every five customers of these online portals are women.
In contrast, only one out of every five customers is a woman for overall online shopping in India, according to a study by early-stage investment firm Accel Partners. “In India, ecommerce has primarily focused on men on the assumption that women don’t buy independently,” said Vani Kola, managing director at Kalaari Capital, which has invested in Zivame.
“These sites prove that women buy for themselves and take decisions when products and experiences are tailored for them.” Multibrand retailer Flipkart, which just began stocking around 30 women’s lingerie and inner-wear brands, said these categories now account for 20% of all clothing sales.
“It’s a highly online-friendly category,” said Ankit Nagori, a vice-president at Flipkart. At fashion e-tailer Myntra, intimate-wear contributes 12% to overall women’s apparel sales. For most of these online retailers, providing access to specialised products not available at offline stores is also helping them win customers. “We have introduced products like Italianmade cellulite-controlling inner wear and international shape-wear,” said Zivame’s Kar. The privacy of the home also helps in discovering new products. “Even in a multibrand departmental store, I find buying lingerie uncomfortable and asking for different types of products is not easy,” said Priya.
The high growth has also led to the launch of niche players like CorsetDeal, which stocks the shape-enhancing garment, not widely sold in India. “We are tailoring products for India and creating corsets made of cotton, which suits the local climate,” said Suman Bharti, founder of CorsetDeal, which is targeting Rs 40 crore in revenue this fiscal.
“This category may be niche but is not small in any way,” said Kalaari’s Kola.
Source : EC, July, 13