You can be whatever you like in the online retail world. There are no limitations on your goals. All you need is a business dream and ecommerce will be your vehicle to fulfil it.
Alisha Saluja is a dreamer and a visionary who felt her capabilities were restricted by her 9 to 5 job as a deputy HR manager. For 5 years she carried on under this role telling herself the steady pay gave her security each month. It was great at the start of her career but she felt she was only toiling to fulfil someone else’s dreams. Alisha claims she was destined for something greater, something she could call her own.
So, the 28-year-old decided to take a leap of faith and leave her security blanket for a journey of excitement and challenges. Indian Online Seller (IOS) had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely Alisha Saluja about her success as a women entrepreneur. And, what we uncovered about her was truly inspirational. Let’s look at what she believes makes a woman a successful entrepreneur.
IOS: What led you to ecommerce?
I feel you can either be an entrepreneur or you can work for somebody. I chose where I am right now and so we became a Delhi NCR based business that opened in May, 2016.
However, being employed for few years, gave me discipline and focus. I gained a strong work ethic, learnt the value of money, respect for peer group and teamwork.
IOS: What is your ecommerce business plan?
Alisha has specialized in the collection of indo ethnic trends. This gave birth to AliSon Krafts. She divides her business collection into the following 3 components:
Clothing and footwear
At AliSon Krafts, we provide wide range of sarees like silk, kanjeevaram, tussar, ikkat, mulcotton, along with kurtas in rich colours with footwear for men & women ranging from juttis to kolhapuri to fabric chappals to go with different indo-western outfits. Handloom sarees, kurtas, lehengas, dupattas are big part of the collection as are palazzos.
The other segment of our collection is jewellery. We sell a variety of jewellery ranging from afghan, tribal to kundan jewellery. We have them all in our collection to compliment and dazzle ethnic or indo western clothing.
The other part of our collection is home décor ranging from beautifully handcrafted products to extensive varieties in pillow covers, bed sheets, diwan sets, table covers and tapestries.
IOS: What is your end goal & how do you plan to complete it?
Our goal is to connect local artisans (who are unable to reach their potential customers) with the Indian market as well as the global market. Indian made clothes, jewellery and handicraft have demand in the global market as well, hence we are trying to connect with them & leverage their purchasing power.
As we are at the very initial stage, we are in the phase of ‘Traction’. Hence, currently, we are growing our customer reach via social mediums like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Very soon we will also have our very own website running.
For now, we do not sell on online marketplaces. We only use social mediums to promote our products and obtain orders. Our average sales amount to about Rs. 30,000 per month.
IOS: What brings the excitement in your line of work?
What excites me about online selling is, I don’t need big investments to start an online retail business. The marketplace model enables sellers and buyers to connect with each other and transact without owning inventory.
Women can work from their home at their own comfort. You don’t need a special physical workspace. This actually cuts down cost. Also, you don’t need any expertise in this field. It’s more of ‘learn while you earn’. Challenge yourself and develop yourself on a daily basis.
You also have to perform several different roles in a day, be it:
- Product manager
- Human resource manager
If you are selling via big platforms say, Flipkart, Amazon etc. you have to compete for pricing and at the end it’s all about numbers. There is nothing wrong in ecommerce companies modelling their business according to their needs and pricing sellers according to policies. But in the long run, sellers have to compromise to make customers happy.
Discounts and offers do not go a long way and customer expectations are increasing day by day. To meet those expectations sellers are giving up their margins and this forces them to quit online selling.
But we are optimistic about our business and are not quitting our journey. It’s only the start. We are here to build not to fall.
IOS: Would you say you have been a successful woman entrepreneur so far?
Our products come from various backgrounds and each product has a story of their own because of the people behind them. To reach as many potential customers as possible with these products and telling the story behind them will be my success.
I have a three skill motto – preparation, persistence, & no fear of failure.
Business is often about assessing risk and reward. If risks can be avoided by working smart, bigger and better rewards will follow. As far as success is concerned, we have started our journey in the right direction and are positive and confident about things. We are putting in the needed effort every day to become a better version of ourselves.
IOS: To what do you owe your success?
I owe my success to my deep love for craft work and the artistic variation in them, my family and my friends. I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of my family and friends and I, therefore, owe it all to them.
IOS: Does ecommerce provide a level playing field for men and women?
Yes completely! Ecommerce has got opportunities for both men and women. Both genders have a fair and equal chance of succeeding in ecommerce.
IOS: Are there specific challenges you faced as a female online seller?
No, but there are sure advantages since women can be more patient at times which can give a big boost in solving problems.
IOS: So, being a woman, do you think you have an advantage over male entrepreneurs in ecommerce?
Being a woman I have never felt less capable to do any task or reach my goals. But being a woman I have certain advantages of being more creative and patient, I believe.
There are certain differences in terms of understanding of the products and difference in tackling problems. Having different sets of hard wired minds in your team can help give you different viewpoints.
IOS: What are the main difficulties you face when selling online?
There are few challenges which one could face while selling online as more and more online stores are opening these days. These can be:
Customer acquisition and loyalty
Fear of taking risk
Competing on price
As we are still in the initial stage, we face such challenges on a daily basis but we are learning and trying to overcome them. We get stronger each day and can face such challenges with more ease than before.
The biggest risk/loss in ecommerce is return/exchange of a products. Earlier, we did not take this risk but now we have started exchanging/returning products to become more customer friendly.
IOS: In spite of these difficulties do you recommend ecommerce to other women?
Yes, if you love challenges and you want to feel more empowered you should go for it. My advice is to be yourself and be humble no matter what.
Alisha Saluja is confident in her feminine intuition and her capabilities as an entrepreneur. The challenges and risks of online retail make her feel alive. But, it is the features of online retail that help her promote and achieve her goals of helping others succeed along with her.