Exclusively.In Raises $16 Million to Sell Indian Apparel in 30 Countries By Year End

Published on May 26, 2011
by Tricia Duryee

Exclusively.In has super ambitious plans that include expanding its flash sales site to 50 countries–30 by the end of the year.

So far, the company has been focused on selling Indian-inspired attire, such as saris, tunics, jewelry and very traditional wedding gowns, to Indians living in the U.S.

Today, the company is announcing it is expanding into the U.K. Other countries will follow, including India by the end of the summer, where it will be able to provide the latest fashions to Indians living in their home country.

The execs have identified 50 countries they’d ultimately like to be serving.

To support its rapid growth, the New York-based company, which has substantial offices in New Delhi, has raised $16 million in a second round of funding. Investors in the round include Tiger Global Management, Accel Partners India and Helion Venture Partners.

In many ways, the company is aspiring to be the Gilt Groupe of Indian fashions.

“That’s the simplest way to summarize it, but there will be some evolution that’s different from Gilt over time,” said Exclusively.In’s CEO and co-founder Sunjay Guleria. “The way our brand and merchandising mix is, is similar to Gilt, but it will evolve into a unique reality.”

(However, Exclusively.In’s $16 million round hardly compares to Gilt’s recent round totaling $138 million.)

Another difference between the two is that shipping clothing and apparel from India creates a whole new set of challenges that other flash sales sites do not have to contend with.

Just like Gilt, Rue La La and others, Exclusively.In sends out a daily email containing the several styles it has for sale. Members who subscribe to the email are able to purchase the items at a discount until the inventory is gone. However, unlike other sites, the company must ship the clothing from India to the U.S. and now the U.K.

Launching in 30-plus markets this year will mean a complicated set of rules and customs requirements to meet in each country.

Additionally, Exclusively.In establishes a distribution center in each country, to make returns convenient. Guleria calls it “shop globally, return locally.”

To ramp up, Guleria said they’ll more than double their 70 employees to 150 by the end of the year.

In addition to market expansions, Exclusively.In has also experimented with new categories. Last month, it launched a travel site focused on Asian vacations, and weddings is also a major category.

Guleria, who grew up in a small Ohio town where Indian fashions were difficult to find, said out of all the expansion plans, he was a little skeptical about launching in India, where the Internet penetration is only at 8 percent. But “the amazing thing is, that still yields an audience of more than 100 million people, which makes it the third-largest Internet country in the world and it’s growing at a rapid pace.”

Along with Internet adoption, he said, e-commerce companies in India, such as Flipkart, are helping to build a broader ecosystem, which includes better shipping systems and expectations around customer service. Both Tiger Global Management and Accel Partners, two of his new partners, have invested in Flipkart, making them ideal partners for the adventure.

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