About 18 years ago when P&G launched Whisper with Wings through a TV Ad, there was an awkward moment in our house. My mother was angry, I was embarrassed and my younger brother (around 11 years old) was supremely alert and curious. Now with two daughters of my own and a doctor husband, we don’t even react to such ads (or even more outrageous ones). My daughter, aged 5, has happily assumed that the sanitary napkin is a diaper for mummies. She also sees older people buying adult diapers with bladder control issues at our local pharmacy and has assumed this is generally the way of life.
The person who continues to flinch at such items though is my mother. So much so that I didn’t involve her in any of my pre-delivery sanitary napkins and underwear buying. But she isn’t the only one embarrassed, considering Whisper still talks about ‘liberation’ and ‘achievement’ in its Ads. Clearly, there is a huge segment of our population that remains ignorant / embarrassed about using such products, leave alone discussing them. Helping them address this issue and make informed decisions is Shycart.com – an ecommerce portal that educates and sells adult products.
“I used to buy these items for my female family members and newly married friends due to the conservative nature of our place. It was also taboo to openly discuss and procure such things from stores,” says Vivek Raja, Co-Founder at Shycart.com, on what spurred him with the idea of the portal. He and his friends, put their ecommerce website development skills to good use and created the portal about three and a half years ago. Now like-minded folks can buy these items on the portal and receive them packed as discreetly as the local pharmacist would (in a black/ brown bag with a knowing smile – at least in my younger days that’s what they did).
What’s more, one also has access to a range of products minus the usual availability concerns that one may encounter in a pharmacy. (I continue to buy baby formula online for the same reason). But one of the unique aspects of Shycart.com, which I suspect is the reason why they are doing well in such a competitive market, is the attention given to customer education. Take for instance, details about the menstrual cup. If I were to find such details about the product, I would have to scourge online for at least 30 minutes before I can make up my mind on whether I would like to buy one or not. But at Shycart.com the description is more than adequate along with warnings about product side effects/ longevity.
“We also tried to enable a consultation facility with doctors on the portal so that customers could clarify which products suited their needs the best,” says Raja. Considering around 60% of his customers tend to come from Tier 2 and smaller cities, this model may spur customer loyalty. Raja claims the company has not invested in any paid marketing activities so far, restricting their efforts to organic SEO and content marketing.
“We are growing at 15% month on month,” he says, in response to whether competition in this area has impacted sales. A few ecommerce giants tried selling these products but couldn’t continue, he says. Perhaps, it’s customer loyalty that is keeping the company afloat. But Raja also realizes that he would need to do more to sustain the portal. For now customers and a team of doctors advise the company on what products to make available and the company has a few imported items on its site. “Our portal started by making available sanitary napkins like Whisper and today we have diversified into stocking several new products and categories,” he says.
As a city bred urban woman, I may not understand the embarrassment around sexual wellness products in this era. But for those living in the conservative parts of the country Shycart.com provides a safe way to experiment with such products.