Sparing buyers from social trauma that makes them more apprehensive about going into an adult novelty store, and offering them with variety to fulfil their sexual cravings, the online adult private shopping space is on a high tide in India. Of late, there has been an increase in the number of e-commerce stores for these products. "Despite being born in the land of Kama Sutra, we associate taboo or embarrassment when it comes to talking about the very basic need of adult life. That's why BlissBasket.com was born," reads the company's site. What has also popularised these portals is the fact that lingerie is no more used merely for the functionality that it provides but also for its sex appeal and fashion.
E-commerce experts predict that the Indian market for adult sexual products is pegged at Rs 1,200-1,500 crore and is expected to grow to Rs 2,450 crore by 2016 and Rs 8,700 crore by 2020.
Among the many portals is Ohmysecrets.com that sells products like sexual enhancement products, edibles, massage oils & gels, lubes & lotions, and lingerie, etc. Another personal and intimate products site ThatsPersonal.com ships products to buyers directly or allows them to pick their orders discreetly. IMbesharam.com is another e-store in this space.
The beauty about these stores is that they ship products to locations across the country while physical adult product stores are present only in leading cities of the country. In fact, even today Indian women who wish to own luxury lingerie have to shop for them from abroad. To add, certain sizes are not available easily as most retailers stock only items that are in high demand. Strapsandstrings.com
Vinodh Reddy, founder of Ohmysecrets.com that started out about nine months ago, claims to be shipping around 850 orders per month with an average ticket size of Rs 1,500. "Male and female enhancement products are the top selling categories and there is a huge market for mood enhancers as well," he said.
Strapsandstrings has witnessed 3x growth in terms of revenue and 3.25x growths in terms of order volume. Having been selling lingerie for women for four years, the company now plans to venture into men's underwear. Its focus is on sensuous, high end, luxury lingerie imported from France and Italy. While the range of the products varies between Rs 3,500 and Rs 12,000, the average size of a transaction is Rs 8,000.
According to Deeksha Dadu, co-founder of Strapsandstrings.com, about 50 per cent of its customers are men buying lingerie for their wives or girlfriends. "Lingerie is a very popular gift choice for men now. Gifting clothing, flowers, jewelry or chocolates on special occasions is clichÃ©. Men are no longer hesitant choosing intimates for their wives or girlfriends. Gifting lingerie is in fact is a beautiful and the most romantic expression to tell your partner that you find her beautiful and you desire intimacy."
"What is interesting to see is that men are more experimental in their choice of lingerie for their partners and do select a lot of risquÃ© lingerie that women do not easily buy. Men are also much less price sensitive and their purchase value is much higher while buying it as gift," she added.
Some of the players in this category have managed to attract funding too. Zivame, for instance, has raised funds from IDG Ventures, Kalaari Capital and Unilazer Ventures.
Online lingerie stores not only work as marketplaces for innerwear but also offer a number of other perks such as anonymity while delivering the packages, guides for the right look and size, live chat rooms to clarify doubts and a lot more. With services such as trial on delivery, cash back and change of product, the online lingerie sector has managed to take away the fear and awkwardness that was prevalent among customers.
All shipments from some of the portals like BlissBasket are discreetly packaged in plain brown or white box or wrap. The logo of these portals or brands of the products do not appear anywhere on the outside of the packaging. They mention health products, cloth, novelty, accessories, etc. (based on the orders) as your shipment item.
Beyond selling products
Interestingly, most of these portals are consultative, inclusive and friendly. Strapsandstrings has brought on board a team of experienced online lingerie stylists who help its clients select the right product and it claims that it has been a huge success. It also offers a specialised service for to be brides for their trousseau.
"Lingerie is a very specialised product. There are several different body types, and each individual has her own different requirements for comfort, looks and the X factor. Mapping all those requirements to the products, and ensuring that the customer is able to view the products that best fit her needs is a challenging job," explained Dadu.
Speaking about Ohmysecrets' future plan, Reddy said, "We are bringing in mobile technology into sexual wellness and planning to introduce products like 'Bluetooth massagers' and 'Love apps'. These will be a trendsetter in sexual wellness community and will allow partners to remain connected with each other even on long distances through mobile technology."
Biggies entering the space
While most of the biggies including Flipkart, Myntra, and Jabong, already have a dedicated lingerie section and certain products for health and wellness, recently, Amazon launched its intimate apparel store for women that offers more than 1,100 styles of lingerie and night wear essentials including bras, underwear, shape wear and sleep wear from over 35 popular Indian and international brands. "Popular lingerie brands include Triumph, Enamor, Bwitch, Amante, Scandale as well as private labels like Sweet Dreams, Pretty Secrets and Lovable. They can also browse through a variety of bikinis, boy shorts, briefs and thongs, or select from shape wear that help to look 'in-shape'. Baby dolls, pajama sets and separates in silks, satins, cottons and blended fabrics cater to special occasions like wedding, vacations as well as to everyday needs," said Vikas Purohit, category leader - fashion, Amazon India.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)