By Shilpa Phadnis & Samidha Sharma
Bangalore/MUMBAI: UTV founder and entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala is leading a $6 million, or Rs 36 crore, investment into Zivame, a lingerie e-commerce startup which rides on the increasing women traffic in India's internet story.
Bangalore-based Zivame - founded by 33 year-old BITS Pilani alumnus Richa Kar two years ago - is betting on quadrupling online sales to Rs 1,000 crore in the next 3-5 years. Screwvala's investment company Unilazer Ventures is pumping in most of the cash, while existing investors too are participating in this round.
Zivame, which competes with other multi-brand e-tailers like Myntra and Jabong for online lingerie sales, has now raised $9 million after netting $3 million from IDG and Kalaari Capital in January this year.
"We are making a non-decrepit category like lingerie more accessible and a part of fashion accessories for women. Twenty percent our women customers have never shopped online before, and in a sense we are a change agent for many of them," Kar told TOI.
India has about 150 million internet users, with women comprising 39% of the traffic but growing faster than men in the domestic digital economy. This is significant as internet's share of Indian GDP estimated at 3.2% is the highest among the emerging countries. India's heavily fragmented lingerie market is estimated at $3 billion, dominated by unbranded players, dogged by a certain lack of shopping experience.
"We invest in broad-based consumption stories, which are scalable lending itself to building a brand. Indian shopping habits in this segment has not even touched the tip of the iceberg. Online shopping will be massive as it lends to private shopping," said Screwvala, who raked in Rs 2,000 crore selling UTV Software Communications to Walt Disney in 2011.
Globally, lingerie giant Victoria Secret garners over 27% of its $5.5 billion from online sales. The leading domestic lingerie brands like Peri Peri and Enamor are taking cue in a rapidly transitioning market. "We started selling online just twelve months ago, but 70% of our sales are already through multi-brand e-commerce channels. This amazed us. Good deals, convenience and privacy are among the key reasons driving the growth," said Akshay Mahendran, managing director of Daiki Brands, a Mumbai-based owner of Peri Peri and Biara.
Kar said the latest funding would be deployed to bolster technology backbone - to improve personalization, recommendations and visual merchandising - as well as marketing to get more tier II women buy online.
"We are preparing for the fast approaching inflection point. We want to give a beautiful experience, making it impulsive and indulgent," Kar added. "Lingerie is new chocolate," she quipped.