24-year-old Shahbaaz Tumbi stepped into the wonderland called ecommerce on the basis of a few days of internet research. While the zest to do more led to him getting a foothold in the industry, the knowledge and presence of mind to invest the returns led to him manufacturing his own products.
Shahbaaz’s journey started with two friends when they started selling perfumes on Flipkart in 2011. In time, they pushed off for their further studies and it ended up being a one man show. Despite being young, he decided to continue alone and ventured deeper into the online space.
Hyderabad-based, today he is a happy seller on Snapdeal looking to diversify into more product categories. In this IOS exclusive interview, Shahbaaz explains how he only has to churn out products and Snapdeal does the rest for him.
IOS: How did you venture into ecommerce?
Shahbaaz: A show on Discovery Channel which said “Indian market will be completely dependent on ecommerce by 2020!” triggered my curiosity and I started searching on the internet from the next day. My father was into offline retail of perfumes so I had ready products to sell. Within a week, I listed on Flipkart and in 2-3 months, on Snapdeal as well.
Eventually, I saw more potential in furniture and started focusing on it completely through Snapdeal. From the 2-member team, we are now 60-65 people handling various aspects, including the factories. The offline perfume venture is no longer operational.
What were your initial challenges?
My first order (in the furniture category) got cancelled, as I was not able to supply the product. I had randomly uploaded a design on Snapdeal for which I got six orders within two hours. But I had no knowledge about the category or sourcing.
Finance was the first challenge. When I asked my father, he was not on board with the idea and I had to generate capital on my own. I went to his friend who was in the furniture business and gave a token amount as advance. That’s how I took the plunge. Eventually I phased out perfumes and concentrated on furniture.
Initially, my account got blocked for 2-3 months. I was new to the category and did not know much. Also, I was not following Snapdeal’s packaging guidelines. I pad attention to those and made the necessary changes, and I was able to get back in the game full-fledged.
What measures do you take to protect your products when packing them?
I used to do centre tables, beds etc. but the packaging for those are more cumbersome and by now I feel sofas and recliners are safe and in demand. We have to follow Snapdeal’s guidelines for packaging. Every 2-3 months, a Snapdeal personnel comes for QC control and check on what we do. So far we have processed more than 1000 orders and have had only 25 returns so far. Out of these, only 12-13 was damaged.
Is there a change in your sourcing now?
Yes. I used to source from my uncle but after a point he was not able to supply as per demand. So I utilized the money I had saved up to set up factories – there are two now, one for sofas and one for recliners. So now the products we sell are manufactured in our own factories.
Other than packaging and finance, what were the initial challenges?
Furniture as a category was very new at that time, and there was a gap between the account managers and us on Snapdeal. Sometimes a revert from them would take anywhere between 48 and 72 hours. But now the gap has disappeared and we work together on the same side of the table. We have been able to scale up with their support only.
Also, big logistics companies like Blue Dart hire people who don’t know anything about logistics. Whereas, Snapdeal’s logistics personnel are well versed with the aspect and we feel the difference in dealing with them. It strengthens our confidence as we know our products will reach our customers safely and in time.
What would you advise a budding seller?
Always have financial support.
Get into ecommerce only after spending some time understanding the process like payments, packaging etc.
Maintain good relationships with everyone in the chain like marketplace team, logistics team etc.
Shahbaaz wishes to branch out into home décor and home furnishing soon. Get the right support; it will be easier to handle things, he says as he signs off.