Six years into the business and one of India’s fastest growing e-commerce lingerie companies is directly taking on online and offline established brands. Clovia, which ships almost 500,000 pieces of lingerie a month, has seen a steady growth in its revenue. Like all other startups, Clovia too owes a lot of its success to technology, which is one of its three pillars to win over customers’ hearts. In an interview with FinancialExpress.Com, Pankaj Vermani, Founder & CEO, Clovia talks about how the brand’s sales grew 8 times in the last 36 months and the company’s future strategy.
Among the new age players, Clovia has made profits in FY2017. What have you done differently as compared to others?
Clovia has been built on the pillars of fanatic focus on the customer, extensive use of technology and commitment to product quality.
We are a full stack mind-to-wardrobe business, where we control every aspect of the supply chain thus ensuring the product that reaches the customer is delivering delight instead of just satisfaction. The category we work in is a loyal category and if the customer gets the ‘aha’ moment on wearing our product, repeat business is guaranteed. That’s what makes our unit economics and other KPIs solid.
We have deployed technology extensively in delivering the right product to each customer in the front end and ensuring tight inventory planning in the back end. That helps us to make higher conversions on the sales side, resulting in better ROI per rupee spent. At the same side, it helps us control our inventory and plan better for our customers ensuring extremely healthy cash flows. These innovations have ensured the company is operationally profitable since inception.
We have a 4 level quality assurance. We focus everything around the customer. Every product we design is keeping a certain problem area in mind. We have an extensive feedback mechanism which helps us understand the acceptance levels of our products
How has Clovia been able to keep a healthier financial as compared to your competitors?
It’s all about financial discipline and the most optimal use of the marketing dollar. As explained earlier the use of technology helps us maximize on that to a huge extent. Besides that, it’s the company’s DNA to be always focused on the bottom line while building the growth engine. That makes growth sustainable with time.
We have grown brand Clovia sales 8 times in last 36 months. But at no time it has been by “acquiring revenue”. Our standard principle is that if a channel/category is not making money within 3 months of inception, we have to take measures to fix it or abandon it.
Clovia’s revenue for FY17 was about Rs 39 crore, how much have you done in FY18?
We are now shipping almost 500,000 pieces of lingerie a month, as of the last quarter of FY18. We will be publishing our annual numbers in the next month or so. We’ve seen some strong revenue growth this year while improving our bottom line.
Selling lingerie online isn’t an easy business to start. How did this idea come about? How big is the market in India?
The idea of selling lingerie online came from recognizing the need for a revolution in lingerie space. Clovia was an outcome of a research which started on my wife and co-founder Neha’s personal experiences on the gaps in Indian lingerie market. While outerwear had evolved, innerwear was largely unaddressed and ignored. Where global markets were offering an array of choices to women when it came to intimate wear, India was far behind and women had to make with the little choice of local market they had. We, along with our co-founder Suman, realized that the complications in the regular distribution of stocking multiple sizes and options and lack of education on sizing had created an inefficient, low exposure market waiting to be disrupted.
Clovia is now one of the fastest growing brands in the nascent $4 billion market where the top 10 guys are still holding less than 8% of the market. Lingerie market in India is growing at over 22% CAGR and is expected to be $9 billion in next 4 years.
You have recently started offline sales, what is your percentage of online and offline sales?
Clovia’ online sales are about 80% of the total revenue, while 20% of the revenue comes from offline sales. We see this number growing in the coming years.