Online lingerie brand that targeted Indian middle class 5 years ago has now expanded to Asia and UAEAthira Nair
Mumbai-based online lingerie brand PrettySecrets claims to have 100 percent annual growth, and is building a strong online and offline distribution strategy to continue its advance.
At a glance
Founder: Karan Behal
Year it was founded: 2012
Where is it based: Mumbai
The problem it solves: Affordable lingerie
Funding raised: $8 million
When PrettySecrets launched in 2012 as an e-store for fashion lingerie, ecommerce was not as popular as it is today. But Founder-CEO Karan Behal, now 36 years old, had grasped an opportunity.
Karan’s family has been in the apparel manufacturing and export business for three decades. The in-depth knowledge in manufacturing, supply chain, and inventory planning, led him to launch PrettySecrets as a nightwear boutique in 2005 in Mumbai.
“I recognised the demand of a particular kind of product offering and a rather insufficient supply for the same. At this time, ecommerce was at a nascent stage, but rapidly growing. I realised that the opportunity lay in building an exclusive private label online brand, hence the birth of PrettySecrets.com,” Karan recollects.
Today, PrettySecrets claims to be the fastest growing lingerie brand across all online marketplaces, as well as the second largest chain of lingerie stores in India, just 10 months after they launched their first retail outlet.
PrettySecrets is available across over 300 retail points. The brand offers over 1200 products in the category of lingerie (its highest seller), night wear, swim wear and active wear. The brand has successfully launched 19 stores in less than a year and is aiming even bigger – it plans to open 100 stores by 2018 and 300 by 2019.
With 100 percent annual growth, PrettySecrets claims that it is the only Indian lingerie brand to partner with the biggest ecommerce websites of UAE and Southeast Asia, Souq.com and Lazada.com respectively.
Growth in the lingerie category
Most Indian women are uncomfortable talking about lingerie openly. PrettySecrets showcases lingerie and women in an extremely empowering light. Karan claims that this has led to a change - women talk about their lingerie choices openly on a social forum.
“Our product offering and marketing communication has always been centred on urging women to redefine their everyday basic wear. We believe that your everyday lingerie should not be boring; your innerwear is the foundation garment of your outerwear. Quality stylish lingerie does not have to be expensive or uncomfortable,” he says, adding that PrettySecrets combines fashion with comfort and that their products are affordable for the Indian middle class.
However, Karan adds that trying to build a national brand in such a regionally fragmented and highly unorganised industry, where the segment is still at its nascent stage, is a challenge.
Organising the market
Majority of this industry is unorganised, with unbranded and unorganised regional players capitalising the mass and economy segments. But brands such as Jockey, Enamor, Clovia, and Amante provide strong competition with their price points, product portfolio, range, utility, and design.
At PrettySecrets, Rs 499-999 is the most popular price range in the lingerie portfolio with panties that start at Rs 249. Nightwear starts at Rs 699 and goes up to Rs 3,499, swimwear starts at Rs 1,299, and activewear at Rs 799.
However, Karan did not reveal their current and target GMV.
PrettySecrets has a team of 70 people across the head office, warehouse, on-ground sales force etc.
“The average years of work experience across all members of our senior management is about 11 years and the average age of people working at PrettySecrets is 29 years. We’re also proud of a very strong male-to-female ratio, 56:44,” Karan says.
In five years, PrettySecrets has raised $8 million from RB Investments Pte Ltd, Orios Venture Partners, Indian Angel Network, India Quotient, and Harvard Business School Angels India.
PrettySecrets is building a strong online and offline multi-distribution strategy to ensure that their products are available wherever the customer is. In the last 10 months, they have opened 21 brand stores and another 80 will be open by end of this year. Prettysecrets.com delivers to over 21,000 pin codes in India.
PrettySecrets branded lingerie and nightwear started selling offline via multi-brand stores in 2015, trade stores in October 2016, and it launched its first brand outlet in April 2017. The omni-channel model intends to provide a seamless shopping experience to customers.
Karan claims that a consistent shopping experience across any brand-owned distribution channel of PrettySecrets ensures price parity, and customers can shop the online catalogue offline. Brand outlets also help in getting more in-depth and qualitative feedback from customers.
“This feedback is then processed by the product design and development team to amend our current product, be it in terms of quality, affinity towards specific colours and prints, introduction of new styles and silhouettes etc.,” Karan says.
PrettySecrets does trials on women of every size for all their products. They get about 10,000-12,000 orders per month through all their distribution channels.
“We have a strong base of loyalists who come back about 5-6 times a year. This is very promising since the average buying pattern for lingerie is once in 3-4 months,” Karan adds.
From his previous retail experience, Karan had gained expertise in manufacturing, sourcing, inventory, and supply chain management. PrettySecrets removes the middlemen and distribution points to put the product directly in touch with the customers. Towards this goal, PrettySecrets also took care of its own logistics needs.
“The idea behind supply chain is to be as close to the customer as possible. Hence, we have designed our logistics network to be as efficient as possible,” he says.
PrettySecrets cover the entire country via their B2C and B2B networks. “The backbone of this efficient network is technology with real-time decisions taken based on cost, time for average turnaround (TaT) and load. This efficiency has also helped in significant improvements in our bottom line,” Karan claims.
Over the last two years, PrettySecrets has been partnering with the biggest e-commerce websites of UAE and South East Asia, Souq.com and Lazada.com respectively. Karan says they are aiming to grow their international exposure exponentially this year.
For Karan, the biggest achievement for PrettySecrets is scaling to its current stage in a mere 5.5 years. “We’ve served over 1.5 million customers and that is very re-assuring,” he says.
PrettySecrets stands out in an industry where the likes of seven-year-old Zivame – which has raised $48 million – is yet to be profitable. Currently estimated to be worth $3 billion, India’s lingerie market is wide open for multiple players, and PrettySecrets is set to take a big chunk out of it.