When Anandha Karthik got married to her Defense Pilot husband in 2010, she was thrown to one tiny corner of India near the Bhutan border. The filmmaker with masters in television production and masters in management, who had already completed 6 films (fiction and documentary), suddenly had nothing to do or build a career.
Five days into being the housewife, she knew she did not want to do just that. That’s when she discovered the online space and explored freelance writing and graphic designing. After upto 16 hours work per day, she could invest only about 8-10 hours after her little one, Raaga was born in 2013.
With the toddler running around now in need of constant attention, the 27-year-old mother could devote only 4-5 hours to work. And that’s when ecommerce happened to her; she started Raagi-ki-tokri, online store with exclusive jewellery collections, each piece curated with a chic, modern woman in mind, with her mother Niranjana Kumar.
In an IOS exclusive, Agra-based Anandha Karthik shares how online selling is the best thing to have happened to her career.
Getting into online selling
While visiting my mother (my family lives in Dubai) earlier this year, I took some pieces of jewellery, which sold like hot cakes in our network. That’s when I realized the scope for selling imitation jewellery. Despite the onset of online shopping, people preferred to buy from a known person than a random one. I had spent around Rs 5,000 for getting the jewellery plus a bit extra for visiting cards and packing material.
I wanted to explore more but on low investment only. So I started off selling some earrings through a facebook page on April 27th this year and later through my online store raaga-ki-tokri from May 6th.
Challenges on the way
Along with uploading pictures on facebook, I also used to invite people over to check out new designs and pieces as I got them. But as sales increased, I started facing some challenges.
- Keeping track of stock – When it was just 10 products, I could remember the price of each and what’s selling where. But as the number increased, it was difficult to track what’s already sold (since I was selling offline as well as through facebook). Sometimes people would book something on facebook whereas it might have been sold offline already.
- Payment – Enquiry to sales conversion was only about 10%. Payment had to be done by bank transfer or deposit, which used to demotivate people. So I thought of a payment gateway.
But instead of spending money just for that, I thought why not look at a website that would help me build a store so payment and stock issues would be sorted in one shot. So I started looking at Shopify and a lot of other options.
Starting online store, raaga-ki-tokri
I was clear that I didn’t want to work with online marketplaces. Apart from the involved charges and commissions, which I didn’t want to pay, selling through their platforms meant depending on them to generate traffic to my brand which I didn’t want to do.
I wanted to market and build my own brand. I wanted people to say, “Arre, raga-ki-tokri se khareedte hai, mast hota hai.”
I finalized on Zepo and I got very good support from the team there for choosing the right theme and right package. I chose their pro plan as per my requirement.
So far, I have found it very convenient. When an order is placed, I get email and sms alerts in addition to alert on the Zepo dashboard. Courier charges are cheap and convenient. I just have to click to schedule my shipping. I can choose between the different logistics providers. I prefer to stick to FedEx because they are really good and super quick. I can delivery to metros in 48 hrs. Pickup gets scheduled, FexEx guy comes to pick up from home and then it’s off. So it’s very easy and streamlined, especially for someone like me.
For the payment gateway, I chose ccavenue over PayU because I get payment once the product is shipped with ccavenue. Whereas, with PayU, customer has to approve from their end that they have received product, which meant I would get payment only after 15 days or so.
There were several. Initially, there was a payment gateway error which led to some abandoned orders but the Zepo team helped in getting that rectified right away.
Since I started on a very low investment, I didn’t have too many products in stock at first. Once I uploaded something, sometimes it would get sold out in 10-15 mins and 2 days maximum. Which meant I had to get new stock. So sourcing had to be more organised and frequent for which payment cycle and shipping had to be organised. So I had to source from different places, click pictures and then put online. I had to fine-tune my pace of stocking to keep up with the pace of buying of customers.
I stick to these policies
I don’t use dealer-sent pictures at all. I click pictures of each product and upload so I can assure customers that what they see is what they would get.
I don’t believe in reaping extra high margins. I believe in making comfortable margins such that my cost price, overheads, shipping charges (both from dealer to me and from me to customer) are covered. I use this to increase my product offerings; currently, I have about 500 products in stock.
In two months, I have sold about 600-700 products without any returns. 60% of my traffic currently is from returning customers. And I try to appeal to the remaining 40% with new product offerings.
I don’t intend to sell on marketplaces. I want to continue building my brand.
Moving from earrings to necklace sets and bangles, Anandha is adding American Diamonds collection to her stock. She wants to give people products with value for their money – new and stylish designs of good quality without having to empty their pockets for it. And all this, a step closer to making her dream come true – Build toilets for women in her native village!