Redefining Online Lingerie StoreWe at YourStory.in caught up with Kapil Karekar, co-founder & CTO, Zivame.com, India’s online lingerie-only store. Below are the edited excerpts from the conversation:
Kapil, can you tell us about your prior work experience?
I had worked with companies like InMobi, ESPN and Yahoo! for over 10 years. My core expertise is scaling platforms, web services and building community based platforms and products. We started working on Zivame two months ago, and we have been live for about 3 weeks now.
How did you and Richa(co-founder Zivame) meet?
We met sometime in February this year through a common friend, and that was when Richa was thinking about the concept of online retailing of lingerie, and it kind of really appealed to me and we started thinking about it seriously.
How much time did it take to build the platform? And, what is the size of your team currently?
Building the platform took about a month and a half. We are a team of about 20 people now.
How did Richa come up with the business idea of Zivame? Any personal experience that triggered her? Richa was previously with SAP as their retail consultant, while at SAP she got a chance to work closely with Victoria Secret. She came across a very startling fact that 70 percent of Victoria Secret’s revenue comes through online sales, and that got her thinking. She researched a bit more and figured that in India the lingerie brand penetration is very low, and there is a very blatant need for good quality lingerie across India.
Most retailers don’t stock the entire range as they have a very limited shelf space. Most women don’t find cup sizes that fit them. When you walk into it a store, it is not a very comfortable experience shopping for lingerie as most stores are manned by men. The education level in Indian women when it comes to understanding the right size and style that suits them is very low. Hence we thought that this particular segment, lingerie, was very amenable to online retailing as we do not have any limitations on the amount we stock, and we stock everything from size 30 to size 40 in all cup sizes.
We are just curious. Why the name Zivame? Does it mean anything at all?
The word Ziva in Hebrew means Radiance. “Ziva”me is “radiant me” (smiles).
3 weeks since you have been live. What is the demography of your buyers? Do you track any of these details? We have a lot of analytics going on. The results are very interesting. Our buyers are from all across India. We have got orders all the way from Jammu and Mizoram. 50% of our sales come from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
What is the size of the market that you are looking at capturing?
We barely scratched the market. The market size is huge. Results in the last three weeks have been overwhelming. Online retailing of lingerie has not been done in India before. In fact, we expected people to be concerned about the size and fit, and wanting to trying out before buying, but that is not the case at all. We have a detailed guide on the site that helps people find out the right size and style for them. People have really appreciated the blog and the amount of educational material that is available on the site.
How does the supply chain work?
We have a very hybrid model in place for brands. We don’t work with dealers. We work directly with the brands. With some brands, we have a consignment model wherein we stock their products in our well equipped local warehouse here in Bangalore. For some brands, we use just-in-time replenishment model. And, brands are very excited about working with Zivame.
What is the kind of traction on the site right now? I have some very interesting statistics for you. 80% of our buyers are first time visitors to the site, that means they landed up on the site and bought something. In the last three weeks itself, we have got more than 15 re-orders, and some people have made purchases over and again.
How does your typical buyer land up on the site?
We have done a lot of ads to promote the site, but what has really worked for us is that people are already searching online with keywords like “buy lingerie in India”. Also, coverage that we got from online and print media has really helped.
Any interesting features that you are looking at adding?
One of our most applauded feature is “what to wear under”. We are looking at doing it in a more detailed manner. We want to conduct workshops across cities in India to educate women on how to measure themselves and identify the style that best suits them.
As an e-commerce company in lingerie space, what are your challenges?
Right now, our primary concern is logistics. Most of the delivery mechanisms do not reach out to all the places that we want them to reach out to. Especially with COD, the reach is quite limited.
Are you going the mobile commerce way anytime soon?
Right now, we are consolidating our backend management systems, our inventory management and supply chain management systems. Once that is sorted, of course the next step is going mobile. Mobile will become a very important part of our strategy.