Q1) Can you take me through what the portal is about, when did it start and what made you launch such an online venture?
IMbesharam has been created to be India’s first and official Adult Lifestyle webstore. With Adult Lifestyle, we mean a lifestyle desired by adults inside their bedroom and sometimes outside of it. It essentially caters to the needs of adults who are in a relationship or wish to get in one, as well as the adults who like to experience certain pleasures outside of their comfort zone.
Adult stores have been around in the international markets for several decades, however just in last 5-10 years have the range of products undergone extreme sophistication, improvements and endearment, while maintaining higher standards of quality of materials and safety in application. Many products are now sold in mainstream and in departmental stores like Walmart, Brookstone, RadioShack etc. This showcases the shift in the mindset of the audience where certain pleasure products are considered part of the FMCG domain. While the stores have been selling products to enhance or compensate for any sexual experiences, variations in sexual lifestyle has been in our culture since the early BC as evident in the temples of Khajurao. We like to be known as the ‘Merchants of Kama Sutra'We started Besharam, the company in January 2011 in California. It took several months to narrow down on the concept we wished to pursue and then it took us over 16months for R&D in India and in US to understand the needs of the target audience (which is any adult between 18-65 years who has access to internet and has a understanding of the western culture) After getting a proper understanding, having met a series of entrepreneurs to share our vision, customs and law experts who have refined the products that we can import, and establishing proper offices, warehouses and logistics and marketing partners to ensure a well organized, well implemented and successful business venture.We knew Indian youth was craving a western lifestyle and we saw a huge gap when we heard from our friends who would shop for adult products only when they visit abroad. While the laws in India haven’t changed, the range and application of the adult products have, so we saw that huge opportunity of fitting in the realm and bringing to the Indian audience, products that otherwise they wouldn’t get locally in India in a store or online.
Q2) From an industry perspective are there any laws that prohibit offline adult novelty stores from opening? Or is it just about keeping up with social norms?
The social norms have changed substantially in last 5-10 years. Earlier a couple wouldn’t have comfortably talked about their liked and dislikes inside their bedroom, but now we have female customers who add products to the cart and their boyfriends/husbands come and make the purchase. We see this shift in the mindset a positive one, in the direction of more independence in the preferences of the younger generation. All this has been a process in motion, which is impacted by TV and Cinema and the internet. People already know what they want and sometimes they actually recommend what they wish to buy, for their friends, for themselves and others
Q3) What have been your sales numbers so far? Also month on month growth figures or year on year growth figures?
Our sales numbers have grown three folds since January 2014 compared to what we were when we went live in July 2013. We are close to our first year anniversary in July, and we plan to launch our US site at that time. That would triple our sales volume and we would be catering to Indians in India and NRI audiences across North America and other parts of the world.
Q4) As compared to other retail categories in the online space how does your products fair in comparison?
Most of the products we showcase, we are exclusive sellers in the Indian Webspace. While we ride on being an adult store, we also carry lingerie, energy supplements and party novelties. These are add on products and the USP of our products are that we have International Brands like Baci, Hustler, Rene Rofe which while are a bit pricier than Indian brands, but they come with an International manufacturing and quality standards, showcased and delivered from US by a US company, maintains highest levels of discretion for the privacy of our customers and comes with our exceptional world class customer support. These all make our product extremely competitive in comparison and come with a better value and satisfaction quotient.
Q5) What is the demand from tier I, tier II, or metros that you have been reporting. Is there any interesting data point that you could share in this regard.
Demand has been well spread across all tiers as we get about 40% business from metros and about 60% from Tier 1 and Tier 2. I think the audiences in metro are well educated and have more knowledge so they order products they may have seen abroad, while audiences in Tier 1 & 2 are relatively newer to many of the products, but once educated they spend equal or more as compared to Metro’s audience.We have seen plenty of orders come in from Goa and sometimes as far off places like Assam and Nagaland. While 80% of our 4k daily visitors are from mainland India, we get order from middle east and Dubai which we have to either communicate with customer and cancel or ask them to replace with a more conservative option that is allowed in these places.
Q6) What are the top five selling products on your website and if you could share some perspective on what’s fuelling the demand for these products.
These are the TOP 5 range that sells on our website:
Mostly its the trend, the great prices and the fact that these fit well for people getting married, and the best thing that works for us is GOOGLE. Search GOOGLE for Adult toys, India Fifty Shades Toys India Fleshlight India and you will see our website come up first or second.
Q7) How do you see this particular retail space evolving as a lucrative e-tailing play?
We hear that this is a Rs2000 Crore market in India, but truly its at an infancy stage. There are many research online that shows worldwide its a $50B industry and we are confident, Indians being a fifth of the world population, the demand will go ten folds within a year or two, and we can proudly say that we are the first one stop shop for all your needs.