Mumbai-based Shalini Girish credits the idea of her online store, La Elegante, to her cousin Sharanya for planting it in her head. She had been sourcing accessories already for friends and family. So a bit of convincing from her cousin was all Shalini needed to get on board the ecommerce world.
The 36 year old MBA graduate had given up her corporate career 12 years earlier when marriage and kids happened. Although she caught up on everything she had been wanting to do like swimming, driving, cooking and guitar lessons, plus the never-ending lessons of motherhood, nothing kept her satisfied.
With kids growing up, she suddenly had a lot of time in hands but nothing to do. Along came her dear cousin to push her into opening her own online store, and she considers that the turning point in her life.
In an IOS exclusive, Shalini shares more insights about her ecommerce journey.
The secret of La Elegante
Till date I have not sold from any website. It’s only been a page on facebook! I started off with casual earrings and have now expanded to offer bags, clutches, watches and other fashion jewellery like neckpieces, oxidised jewellery, temple jewellery etc.
Sourcing the products
Fashion has always been my passion so even before all of these started I used to keep visiting the various markets in Mumbai picking up stuff for myself and my friends and family. Those visits helped me identify various avenues / wholesalers famous for each type of product. That knowledge helped me source my initial products.
I don’t accept pre-bookings or collect orders before the actual products are with me.
Photography was my biggest challenge!
Photographing my products was a challenge, I had neither the interest nor the knowledge. Initially I used my mobile to capture the pictures. Then I started using a DSLR which has helped to improve quality and clarity of my pictures. I have spent hours reading up on photography tricks and tips to improve my skills.
Maintaining and updating inventory was another challenge. With a lot of trials and errors, I have carved a method that works for me. Since I had walk-in clients too, like friends and neighbours, I had to streamline and maintain proper inventory.
I accept orders only via email or my facebook page inbox. When it was just 10 queries per day, I could easily manage. Now with 450-500 queries per day, handling this surge in traffic and orders is the challenge. Queries come through whatsapp and sms too.
I have restricted my work time to 10 am to 5 pm so that I have time for sourcing, tracking stock delivery from my various vendors, updatingg inventory, accounting, packing , tracking deliveries and also to check what’s new in the market!
My own site is almost ready, www.laelegante.in. Just need to add the payment gateway and it’s all set to go live. Most of my clients have a comfort zone now in FB they know where and how to look for new products . Moving them into website might be a transitional challenge , but once done I don’t see any challenges in that.
No issues with logistics!
My logistics partner is DTDC and thankfully my association with them has been smooth and fruitful.
My best decision so far?
Introducing COD! I introduced cash on delivery in Chennai about 4 months back which has benefitted a lot of people from there. I’m going to launch international deliveries soon, hopefully that should be another winning decision.
Shalini’s dream is to be able to never say “sold out” to any of her clients. And as she goes back to more orders and more packing, we wish her more success and growth!