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In a major first online lingerie retailer Zivame has raised funds to the tune of $38 Mn (INR250 cr) in its series C round of funding from Zodius Technology Fund and Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the strategic investment fund of the Government of Malaysia. Also, participating in the round were existing investors Unilazer, IDG Ventures and Kalaari Capital.

Addressing The Problem

Before the onset of niche ecommerce players in the lingerie category like Zivame, PrettySecrets and Clovia, lingerie buying for Indian women has been much of a hassle due to poor inventory availability, lack of education about intimate and shaping wear, and the embarrassment associated with lingerie buying experience as intimate wear was mostly sold by men across the counters.

Though vendors like Enamor, Jockey, Lovable, Amante and Bwitch did their bit to popularise the segment, the real push however came in with the ecommerce boom. Richa of Zivame says the problems associated with stocking so many different sizes and shapes is what Zivame aimed to address since beginning.

“From the beginning we wanted to solve the inventory problem due to limited shelf space. With Zivame, we could cater from curvy to petite women, educate them about a category which male sales persons aren’t aware of. The aim was to make a women explore and enjoy this category-something that she just buys for herself, elevate it from being a shush thing to an expression of her empowerment.”

Going Mobile Frenzy

In its bid to increase consumer touch points and to build the category with path-breaking technology, Zivame has also announced the launch of its app, the first dedicated lingerie app for women in India. The app has been built to facilitate quick product discovery. With about 60% of Zivame’s traffic coming from the mobile, the company is banking on the increasing popularity of the smartphone and its expanding penetration to target more users.

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With the entry of niche segment players, and changing economic scenario of Indian women, who now invest a significant amount of time and money with the latest fashion trends, lingerie shopping has become an easier, more intimate and pleasant experience. At a  click of a button, hundreds of affordable brands and styles are now available to the Indian women. With it’s app, Zivame aims to make this experience even more personal. Richa says that the nature of category is such that a mobile device makes the browsing experience a more intimate and secure one as compared to desktop. Hence, the impetus on being more mobile-focussed.

Going a step further, the brand also plans to open physical experience zones, after opening a prototype in their office as a part of its strategy to increase consumer touch points. The first one will be opened in Bangalore, followed by 10 other cities and thereafter to 100  cities.

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Shilpa Kulkarni, Zodius Technology Fund stated, “We believe Richa and Team are building a formidable business by providing Indian women consumers product choices of the like that she has never experienced before, while providing superior customer engagement. Their ability to use technology to customize the buying experience and provide world-class private label products is noteworthy. We are delighted to partner with the Zivame team in this journey forward.”

Meanwhile, with Zivame, Khazanah has made its foray into the ecommerce segment in India,  though it has previously invested over USD 1Bn in India. Chinta Bhagat, Executive Director Investments, Khazanah India Advisors Pvt. Ltd. said, “Khazanah Nasional are very happy to support Richa and the Zivame team with driving their mission of women empowerment within and beyond India. With Khazanah coming on board, Zivame’s funding needs are expected to be fully secure for the foreseeable future, and the focus will be on supporting them in building their institutional capabilities in the coming years.”

According Research and Markets, the online lingerie market in India is to grow at a CAGR of 42.32% over the period of 2014-2019. The lingerie retail market in India is estimated to be approximately $2.26Bn (INR 15,000 Cr).

We had earlier reported that Zivame was looking to raise about $25 Mn in funding when one of its competitors Clovia raised an undisclosed Series A round of funding from IIT and IIM alumni-backed venture capital firm IvyCap Ventures. Besides these, in this space, PrettySecrets is another player looking to raise $10 Mn in funding. Earlier this year, started by India’s first bra fitter Arpita Ganesh, Buttercups had also secured undisclosed amount in angel funding.

The company plans to use the funds to maintain its dominant position in this niche ecommerce segment, developing its supply chain, and provide a world class lingerie shopping experience to Indian women. The funds will also help Zivame to establish itself as an Indian brand which resonates strongly with the women.

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