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Tech-laced And Fashionable

There is no shying away from the lingerie business. Clovia, for one, is here to provide the perfect fit

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It took one woman and two men to build one of the fastest growing e-commerce lingerie companies in India. Clovia, a maker of fashionable lingerie for everyday wear, carefully manages the brand experience from design-to-wardrobe. Currently Clovia sells over 4 million pieces annually, that’s over one piece every 10 seconds, according to the company.

Clovia has over a million customers who buy lingerie through multiple channels including, other major e-stores and offline retail outlets. “The brand has grown eight times in the last 10 quarters,” says its co-founder and CEO Pankaj Vermani.

It was Vermani’s wife Neha Kant (now Chief Revenue Officer) who got the ball rolling and later roped in Vermani, a serial tech entrepreneur, and Suman Chowdhury (the COO). Incorporated in 2012, the brand Clovia was formally launched in June 2015.

“The brand was an outcome of research by my wife and co-founder Neha. While outerwear had evolved, innerwear was largely unaddressed and ignored,” says Vermani. “We realised that the lack of education on sizing, and complications in stocking multiple sizes and options had created an inefficient, low exposure market waiting to be disrupted,” he adds.

Lingerie didn’t become the most-sold item of apparel by chance. Through an amalgamation of fashion and technology, Clovia uses big data to analyse purchase patterns. Technology, thus, has made all the difference. “We have algorithms that help us gauge customer purchase patterns and track their feedback. The system simulates demand over seasons and geographies.” Clovia’s supply chain is managed by an in-house enterprise resource planning software system, “which is twice as fast as our next competition” according to the 39-year-old tech-pro.

This has led to Clovia solving the different-region-different-size problem in India while maintaining industry-best inventory holdings. Vermani also says that all Clovia product designs are based on consumer feedback. “We stock the maximum number of SKUs in the industry with minimum inventory holding. That’s some serious disruption in a legacy market,” Vermani points out.

Disruption aside, the lingerie startup has 130 employees. “In addition, we have incubated multiple factories to build a supplier/job-worker network, creating almost 2,500 jobs in the process,” explains Vermani.

Clovia’s preface to physical stores was their partner programme, which has gained momentum. The partner programme allows individuals to act as third party consultants and agents selling Clovia products and earn a commission on every sale made. Across the website, one could read catchy lines such as, “Be your own boss”, “Earn Rs 5,000-Rs 50,000 a month”.

Just in time for 2017 year-end sales, Clovia opened their first brick and mortar store in Delhi. “While Clovia continues to grow in the online space, we are fast setting our footprint in offline retail to ensure a pan-India brand presence,” says Vermani.

Clovia is now one of the fastest growing brands among the Top 3 e-commerce lingerie companies — Zivame, Clovia and PrettySecrets. The apparel sector is a $4-billion market growing at an estimated rate of 20 per cent annually. However, the Top 10 players still hold less than 8 per cent of the market. The title for market leader seems wide open to the perseverant, as Vermani speaks of Clovia’s future goals: “While we will continue on our journey to be the largest lingerie brand in the country, we are also expanding overseas. Currently Clovia has opened in one international territory and is planning to launch in two more soon.” says Vermani.

Akin to any top performing disruptor, Clovia, too, owes its success to the use of technology to know exactly what the consumers (in this case, women) want and how to get it to them fast.