Online lingerie stores have reduced the awkwardness of buying intimate wear. Women can discretely view lingerie styles and patterns according to their requirements. This is why exclusive retail in this department is such a hit online. However, online retail of lingerie has its drawbacks when compared to offline retail.
According to Karan Behal, the CEO and co-founder of online lingerie brand, PrettySecrets, “The market dynamics is changing and it is important for every retailer or brand to adopt an omni-channel mode of retailing.”
PrettySecrets took its business offline at the start of April, this year. Its offline strategy will include a combination of company-owned stores and franchise stores. The MTC Ecom Pvt. Ltd. owned company wants to open 30 large stores in Mumbai city, before the end of 2017. Out of these the 2 that it opened on April 2 will be stores owned and the rest will replicate the franchising business model.
Behal said, “… we have always behaved more like an online brand than an e-commerce company and having an offline venture will allow us to acquire customers in smaller towns.”He added, “Ecommerce in India started around a time (2007) when the real-estate prices were all-time high and were moving up north. But the retail is getting attractive again. We are witnessing a drop in commercial property prices and dip in rentals by 20 per cent in several pockets and this gives us an opportunity to be right there near the customer.”
The ecommerce company intends to have a total of 30 offline stores by November 2017 and 300 of them by 2019, stated a top official at the company.
PrettySecrets changing during a challenging time?
Like the rest in ecommerce, online lingerie etailers are also struggling to breakeven and make profits. Clovia registered losses of Rs.9.5 crore, during the 2015-16 financial year. At the same time, its revenues also spiked.
Zivame, on the other hand, is still working on its profitability efforts. The online intimate wear retailer has also went offline. The Bangalore-based firm has tried offering private labels, which is a step many believe will bring profitability. The Kalaaari backed company even set up trial showrooms and experience centres, which according to experts flopped.
“Zivame’s first pivot was because of margin pressure and the 2nd pivot back to multi-brand is telling that they were not successful in gaining customers’ basis the product, pricing, quality that they offered,” Behal mentioned.
What does it take to succeed in this niche market?
With the inclusion of nightwear, the lingerie market in India is worth 20,000 crore, said Behal. He believes the market grew at 20% CAGR over the past half decade. In 2020, he feels it the market will be worth Rs.30,000 crore.
For success in this line of ecommerce, there are three main factors that must be considered –
- Supply chain
Out these inventory control is the most important, Behal said. This is because a bra may have 16-24 different sizes but a shirt only 3-4.
Behal added, “90% of lingerie in India are sold in mom and pop stores where the experience is very poor because of no trial room, no female staff, stocking capacity is very low, no guidance on size etc. Here, interestingly selling lingerie online is not difficult because the product is seen as utility product in India.”
Initially, PrettySecrets began its ecommerce journey as a lingerie retailer. Now, it offers a variety of product categories like nightwear, swimwear and activewear. It offers over 1,200 products across these categories. These are available at an average price of Rs.700-800. This makes them cheaper than products from Marks & Spencer, La Senza and Triumph.
Behal mentioned, “We want to give an experience of Victoria Secrets at a much reasonable price. We want to be Asia’s answer to Victoria Secrets and position ourselves as a global brand soon.”When it comes to its offline move, Behal said, “Twenty of these stores would be located in Mumbai and rest of the stores can be pan India. The stores are expected to contribute 25% to the company’s revenues in the next 3 years and by 2020, we hope to capture a market share of 3-5%.”
PrettySecrets delivers to more than 19,000 pincodes in the country. With its omni-channel strategy, it expects to become more than an average marketplace. The etailer has raised a total of Rs.60 crore from investors so far. And, this year it is going to introduce an ultra-modern shopping experience through its Progressive Web App (PWA).
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