In the age of internet and e-commerce, it is not uncommon to hear about shopping platforms which are bringing day to day products and luxury items to the doorstep of people with just few clicks on smartphone or computer.
However when it comes to lingerie and innerwear for women, it is not surprising that there are still taboos and a social stigma associated with it in a sensitive-about-everything India. But it is perhaps the same reason what makes this a lucrative market with an immense potential of disruption through technology.
This is precisely where Clovia, an online marketplace for such products enters, solving these and other problems through robust and indigenously developed e-commerce tech. Clovia, formerly known as MoodsofCloe is a one-of-its-kind online lingerie and sleepwear brand run by Delhi-based Purple Panda Fashions Pvt Ltd. It is a part of a global fund with operations across continents and is a brand in itself and manufactures its own range of fashion lingerie using internationally sourced high-quality fabrics.
Along with manufacturing, Clovia also ensures great care in delivering the items to its customers by partnering with reputed courier companies and with discreet packaging to ensure the delivery of order to the customers wherever they want to without feeling uncomfortable.
Clovia was founded by husband-wife duo Neha Kant and Pankaj Vermani along with friends Suman Choudhry and Aditya Chaturvedi in 2013. It was incubated at Mountain Apollo India and backed by Ivy Cap Ventures, Zurich-based Mountain Partners AG and a group of private investors.
Clovia’s Smart Use Of Tech Impressed Us
Apart from the factors like education, cultural aspects and the orthodox mindset of Indian society, there are other factors as well which decide the sales of online lingerie and need to be taken into account. Lingerie is a complicated product because there are various types of body shapes and creating a perfect fit can be a challenge. A woman goes through various body changes throughout her life. It is different before marriage and after marriage, before conceiving and after conceiving.
Plus, the ignorance about various sizes and fits makes it further difficult for her to choose perfect size and design. Clovia has come up with a breakthrough technology to solve this fundamental problem and built a tool in which, just by entering age and body shape, it suggests a perfect size and fit. To further help its customers, the website uses tools like diagrams to educate the women about design/ shape.
Secondly, being manufacturers also, there is a big problem of inventory management for Clovia as about 100-200 designs come out every month which is a huge number. To solve this problem, Clovia uses big data and technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence for manufacturing undergarments.
They manufacture lingerie based on the design and the quantities the customer wants — all based on an exhaustive dataset collected from various users and various other reports and sources. Pankaj Vermani, CEO of Clovia tells me,
We let the customer decide which design stays and which does not. Using data like speed of sale, feedback mail, Age/body shape the designs are selected. Everything is Tech-Driven and there is no manual intervention.
This also solves another common problem of sold out products or unavailability of size, as the technology keeps the track of which product of which size and color is in demand the most and accordingly the whole production process in carried out. This, in particular, has had a huge impact in maintaining efficient inventories, reducing operational costs and increasing profit margins. According to Vermani, most of the inventory is usually under 30-45 days which is a remarkable achievement in an industry plagued by unsold stocks and constant liquidations eating into profit margins.
What Makes Clovia Stand Out
The online lingerie and innerwear market has been witnessing a lot of upheaval with many players trying to grab the majority of market share. There are exclusive companies like Zivame, PrettySecrets, Cilory, Straps and Strings, ShopImagine, and BuyUnderCover and general e-commerce websites which sell lingerie, or have a dedicated section for it, such as Jabong, OyeGirl, Yebhi, LimeRoad, LadyBlush etc.
One of the most prominent competitors of Clovia in the segment is Zivame, which is backed by IDG Ventures and Indo-US Venture Partners and recently raised around 250 crores in Series C funding. On comparison with these marketplaces and particularly Zivami, Pankaj says,
There is no comparison. It is like comparing shopper stop with LV. We are a brand in ourselves. Through feedback, we populate, promote and plan the brand better.
From manufacturing garments themselves to helping the customers in choosing the ideal fit as per their requirement and ensuring proper distribution of products, Clovia acts a complete brand in itself rather than just being an aggregator of different products or a common e-commerce platform for sellers and buyers. This definitely gives it a unique position in the market which is still in its nascent stage.
The Road Ahead
Having been in business for just over 2 years, Clovia — looking at the kind of genre it is operating in — already boasts of some impressive numbers. With over 3 lakh registered users and 2.8 million page users, Clovia claims to sold 1 lakh units per month with a month-over-month growth rate of 15-20%. The company offers a 30- day return policy and claims to have a return rate of just 1.1%.
In June this year, Clovia raised series A funding from IvyCap Ventures and before that, in 2013, it had raised seed funding from Zurich-based Mountain Partners AG. As for now, Pankaj says that things are moving pretty well and they are not looking for more funding with their only focus on product innovation and extension, and aggressive expansion of their services globally.