Just plain Jane won't do.
E-commerce in India played on ‘convenience’, ‘price’ and ‘choice', but competition in the market has now forced start-ups to think out of the box with players betting on the ‘privacy’ game to lure buyers.
So while other fashion websites struggle to breakeven, online lingerie sites seem to have cracked the space thanks to a wide range of innerwear in all sizes like cellulite-controlling innerwear, swimwear and shapewear and easy access . This market is currently pegged at Rs 9,500 crore and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 14 percent.
Take a look at these stats for a second:
Data by Internet and Mobile Association of India shows that India's e-commerce market is expected to see a 33% growth by the year end and is expected to touch Rs 62,967 crore by the year from Rs 47, 349 crore as of December 2012.
What's interesting is that E-tailing which comprises consumer items such as apparels and footwear, jewellery, books etc is expected to cross the Rs 10,000 crore mark by 2013 end and E&Y estimates that the Indian lingerie and nightwear market, which was valued at about $2 billion in 2011, is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 15% until 2015.
That's a huge opportunity and lingerie E-tailers would be foolish to not cash in on this.
A report in today's Economic Times points out that the privacy of internet shopping has drawn customers by the hordes to online lingerie retail sites. For example, online lingerie retailer Zivame, which was set up in 2011, is growing at 400 percent annually and is expected to earn revenues of about Rs 300 crore this fiscal, while others like Moods of Cloe, Peri Peri Skinwear, Under Cover Lingerie and Pretty Secrets, have also made their mark, the report said.
For most of these online retailers, providing access to specialised products not available at offline stores is also helping them win customers.
Buy why are retailers so bullish on this market?
Firstly, demand for fantasy lingerie is growing in India even though Indians tend to be more conservative than their western counterparts.
Monica Anand, CEO and Co Founder, Under Cover Lingerie that sells innerwear, sexy lingerie and nightwear told Firstpost, "People like to browse fantasy lingerie without the fear of running into someone they know. This is best done from the comfort of their own homes. Many people prefer that our products come packaged very discreetly," she said.
Secondly, shopping online bypasses any unpleasantness or discomfort one would witness in stores. Sometimes it's hard to be a man in a lingerie shop. Online, there is no need to have an uncomfortable conversation with the sales staff while you choose a particularly erotic piece of lingerie.
An in-house research by Undercover Lingerie also showed that men, who otherwise feel uneasy about venturing into a lingerie store, can now easily buy products for their partners online. A discreet delivery service which online e-tailers offer is the key to success in this market.
Thirdly, the convenience of summoning things home with a few clicks is not only luring upscale city women but also women in Tier II and Tier III cities due to the sheer variety of products that are not available in their local stores. For instance, if you have specific tastes in lingerie or if you have found it difficult to find your size in the styles you prefer in stores, shopping online can make the process much easier.
ThatsPersonal.com which sells erotic lingerie, costumes for women, men’s erotic innerwear, lotions, lubricants, select adult games, select literature, erotic candles, body powder, body paint, arousal gel’s, etc gets 30 percent of its orders from smaller towns and districts like Warangal in Andra Pradesh, Nanded in Maharashtra and various towns in Punjab outside Patiala and Ludhiana. And guess what? Only 20 percent of their customers are women.