There is no doubt that the current Social/Group Shopping Avatar was born in the United States. And despite the fact that pejorative terms like ‘Bangalored’ go some way in highlighting the angst towards Indians. There is still an old exotic charm associated with the South Asian Giant though. And Exclusively.In is cashing in on this with the relatively tried and tested private flash sales model. In just 4 months since its June’ 2010 launch, the site has accumulated almost 60,000 fans on Facebook and featured over 200 different vendors.
It has now secured $2.8 Million from Accel Partners and Helion Ventures for expansion purposes. Accel is a well known Venture Capital Farm and has funded the likes of AdMob, Facebook, Kayak and Macromedia. They also have Indian ecommerce biggies like Flipkart and Myntra in their portfolio. Helion Ventures is an India focused mutli staged venture fund. Ashish Gupta of Helion Venture Partners and Prashanth Prakash of Accel Partners India will be joining Exclusively.In’s board of directors.
Exclusively.In was always expected to be popular among the Indian diaspora, but it has been surprisingly popular among other sections of consumers as well. It reports that over 65% of its members come back to make repeat purchases. The site offers daily deals on high end designer jewelry, clothing, home decor and even travel. It is also the official online retailer for the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week and also featured the work of leading Indian fashion designers like Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Arora and several others. Orders are shipped from New Delhi to customers’ doorsteps in the United States at an impressive average delivery period which is under a week. It also plans to expand to Canada, U.K. and India in the coming months.
An article in the SFGate attributes it success to the fact that “Indian-infused’ fashion is going mainstream. Apart from jewelry, fashion and home decor, the site also features limited edition art. Currently it is offering a deals like photographs taken by Steve McCurry as part of a photo essay on India. For those unaware, Steve McCurry’s most famous photograph is the green eyed ‘Portrait of the Afghan Girl’.
Exclusively.In co-founder and CEO Sunjay Guleria calls the site a ‘passage to India’. And he is right to some extent, Exclusively.In opens up a market of Indian Luxury Items to a large number of consumers that were restricted by their inability to travel to the country.
Social Commerce is certainly riding one huge Social Media powered Wave. As I write this post, Groupon is looking for a valuation of $3 billion. While others like Gilt Groupe and Ali Pincus’ One Kings Lane (both private shopping sites) are going strong as well. Such sites unlock an offline to online movement of sales and Alex Rampell of TrialPay estimates this to be a trillion dollar opportunity in the US alone. All current indications point to larger and more viral growth for such services. But, with the easily imitable business model, the space is beginning to look a little cluttered. Even Back home in India. Customer Loyalty is another issue here, as bargain hunters tend to be very mercenary and will pick up their shopping bags to move to whichever service offers them the best deals. Despite some astronomical valuations, the segment is in its nascency and will be very interesting to watch over the next few months and years.