When 26-year-old Himanshu Bhatnagar, along with partners Varun Kumar, Rahul Tyagi and Rajeev Chaurasiya, wanted to branch out from their Digital Marketing jobs to online selling, India had begun to witness immense interest in online adult products shopping like condoms and lingerie. The thought immediately struck them to start a shopping website to cater to the growing naughty market in India. But further survey revealed that Indian companies had not created a comprehensive ecommerce ecosystem that could ensure convenience and security from a customer’s perspective.
Still, in 2014, they started their Delhi-based online store Naughtyat9 selling lingerie. In just a few months, they expanded their portfolio to include sexual wellness products, intimates, condoms and lubes on their website. How did that happen?
Himanshu shares their ecommerce journey with IOS.
IOS: Was it easy to start an online adult products store?
Himanshu: It wasn’t. Our biggest bottleneck was the rules and regulations of the Indian government pertaining to the sale of such products online. We had to do a lot of research and consult with many lawyers to work our way around it. Finally, we decided to start our own store.
We procure our products from other countries like US, Canada, China and Singapore.
Sexual wellness is rapidly growing as a popular product category. Did you realize this potential when you started?
We knew it would click as Indian are quite shy to buy sexual wellness products directly from a medical shop.
Do you stock your inventory or do you source them after orders come in?
We have most products in stock but some are sourced based on orders. We assure delivery to our customers in 1-2 business days as we have most products in our inventory.
How do you handle payments and logistics?
We use PayU payment gateway and we find it quite convenient to deal with. We don’t compromise on the logistics part considering the segment we are into; we deal with trustworthy players only like FedEx, DHL, Delhivery etc.
We make about Rs 80-90,000 per month and we have delivered more than 500 products. Our target is to achieve 1,000 orders per month.
What are the challenges slowing you down?
Like any ecommerce portal, we have to be on our toes for these – better user experience, fast server response, reliable payment gateway and hassle-free shipping. We use kartrocket ecommerce software and we are quite happy with the results.
So you don’t sell on any marketplace?
We have started selling on Shopclues too now. We promote and generate traffic though deals and coupon codes we put on websites like couponrani, cashkaro and couponindia.
Do you plan to explore other marketplaces as well?
Yes, in time.
Sexual wellness, being a taboo subject in India, how do you reach out to customer? How do you market your portal?
I used my hands-on experience in Search Engine Marketing to generate leads and quality customers. Right now we are the fifth place on Google SERP for keyword phrases like online adult store India, online adult shopping and many more. Also, we posted coupons and exclusive deals on various marketing channels like couponraja, coupon rani and cashkaro.
And how do you send packages to customers?
We promise 100% concealed packing to our customers. So we use simple brown boxes without any logo, branding or product names. Even courier boy wouldn’t know what he’s delivering.
What kind of questions do customers ask you? How do you deal with their skepticism?
Generally, customers are concerned about packing and shipping while purchasing adult items. We provide 24×7 customer service so at any point our customer care executive is around to give 100% satisfactory answers to customer queries. With this, we are able to rid of their skepticism. We have ensured we have an efficient customer support team in place that understands customers’ concerns about orders, packing, shipping etc.
Himanshu says they have not had any returns and he attributes it to the fact that customers get what they see on the portal – 100% genuine products at reasonable prices. But he is also confident that should they get a returns request in future, they will certainly stick to their promise of the easy and hassle-free 7-day return policy.
“I admit that running an own store is quite challenging rather than selling goods on well-known marketplace. But no business can succeed without any risk right?” Himanshu shares.