Shine Stainless was started 25 years back without capital, for the trading of kitchenware primarily kitchen utensils. Once into the business, they realized the consumer’s need for consistent brand, which was there only with big names, obviously with high prices, like the brand Prestige. Seeing opportunity, they jumped on to the wagon of manufacturing kitchen utensils.
When did online selling happen? How did they boost their products across various online marketplaces? What were the hurdles? Shantilal Jain shares opens up in this IOS Exclusive interview.
The online venture, bartanwale
We started bartanwale in 2011 when Flipkart launched their no kidding ads. Along with launching our products on our site, we also listed on Tradus from where we got good sales for the initial few months. We launched our flagship product, “Shine Gas Lighter” on Tradus Deals and the results were outstanding – 200+ orders per day for 3 consecutive days!
Challenges vs Opportunity on Tradus
Before listing on Tradus, we had just one order per week. But after listing on the platform, we got 200+ orders immediately, which was great. But challenges were many. Right from packing 200-300 orders per day to managing logistics, we had to do everything ourselves as Tradus didn’t provide logistics support then. It was pretty tedious for us, as we didn’t know how to do these ourselves. Also, we had just the tradus panel and excel sheets to take us through all the processes.
Shipping was also touch as most of our orders were from tier 2 and 3 cities. So we had to choose our logistics partners accordingly. We eventually tied up with Delhivery, Indiaontime and Professional Couriers. Eventually, we did manage everything and learnt along the way.
Taking our brand to the next level to get the eyeballs of millions was a challenge yet an interesting opportunity. With an offline channel, we could not even imagine it with the costs involved. But online surprised us in this and surpassed our expectations, and today we are a known brand. We did that by updating our catalogue constantly according to needs of the customer and being visible where they were looking.
Moving beyond Tradus
When Tradus stopped operations due to change in business vertical, we started selling on other marketplaces like Shopclues, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon. Although orders kept coming in, we felt the need to change direction as brand visibility became the focal point. Marketplaces want more sellers on their platforms to offer more products to consumers. As the number of sellers increased, the pressure on our products to be placed at the right positions also increased. We still face this issue and I think it is something that would always be there.
Secret recipe of online selling
I am not sure this can be called a recipe but a mix of young and enthusiastic people to handle our daily operations has been the key to our successful ecommerce stint and survival. Through our team and operations, we have learnt the following about online selling:
- Naming of products should be precise. It is best to mention everything about your product in the product name as it’s the first, also the last, time your customers will see the product before even thinking of choosing it.
- Product photos are crucial. Initially, we used to click with our camera phones and upload. But we realized the images need to have more clarity and precision because customers would want to know what they are buying. A bad picture could lead to loss of the sale. So we started outsourcing our photography so the images would catch every detail of the product important to customer.
- Use technology. Embracing technology has worked wonders for us. We use tally for maintaining accounts. For order and inventory management, we use browntape and unicommerce. And for other communication tools, we use Google apps. A mix of these technology tools has helped us to scale up.
- Maintain product quality. Never promise something you can’t deliver.
Marketplaces themselves do most of it while we focus on product selections. We have started Bartanwale.com, for selling kitchenware products where we house only handpicked products from various brands keeping in mind consumer need and demand.
We rely on word of mouth mostly for marketing bartanwale. We use twitter and facebook to track user reactions to our products and services. We also have a blog to support product updates and idea sharing. And we have to say the kind of response we get to our customer service makes us happy. And we feel we are on the right track.
We have started shipping internationally. That happened by chance. A customer wanted an idli maker, a request that was made by email. We didn’t want to say no, so we went ahead and shipped it to him anyway. After they received the parcel and were happy, they wired the money to us. We are working on fine-tuning international operations now.