Termed as an ‘online celebration store’ by the founders, the earlier Rajasthani Store.com vows to give immaculate customer service. One can buy premium quality Indian wedding & ethnic apparels from the Website.Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory.in, talks to Founder Gaurav Pandey and finds out how this e-commerce venture makes sure that every time you buy from them, you buy an experience
Gaurav, tell us about your background and tell us about your startup. What exactly is Goodbells.com?
Personally I have always believed in great customer service from the very beginning of my startup career. Whenever I used to experience any misbehaviour at any local shops, I used to commit myself that I won’t let my customers face such behaviour. This is what has built the roots for our company.
I started three companies - of which, the very first one was an immature garage startup and my first job too. The Second one was a tech startup which ended in a great failure and third is Goodbells.com.
Academically I completed my graduation but dropped mid-way from MBA after engaging fulltime with Goodbells.com (previously known as RajasthaniStore.com and nominee of TATA NEN Hottest Startup 2008)
So how did you come up with this idea?
We were initially working with wedding and ethnic apparels only and specifically serving to Global South Asian Diaspora.
We happened to read a buying pattern of our customers, that was - that they were not buying just clothing from us; instead they were buying clothing for variety of celebrations and were emotionally very much attached to their orders. And this pattern was consistent with our every single guest. And this is when we realized that our guests were buying in hope to enhance their celebration experience and we had a chance to actually make this possible for them. This changed our business practice entirely. We redefined the core branding as “celebration store”, changed our name as Goodbells and started calling our customers “Guests”. With Goodbells.com we believe our real product is the experience we deliver.
Could you tell us in detail about the products/services you offer?
Our current product line includes ethnic clothing, purse & bags, jewellery and footwear etc. We are also going to introduce various new product lines very soon.
What are your refund policies?
Our refund policy is quite simple. Anything unused can be returned in 30 days and we pay return shipping too, if the deliverables has issue.
Do you have international sales as well?
Yes, other than Indian locations and we also deliver globally. USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Gulf Countries are major contributor to our International business
What were the challenges you faced while starting up?
The difficult part was when we learned that delivering great customer experience was not a choice, but a need. So we shifted our focus on various CPFs (critical performance factors) including warehouse inventory, stock availability, toll free call centre and shortest possible delivery time. It definitely increased our cost hugely, but ultimately proved to be a very correct move.
Are you looking at getting funded now?
We have 100% bootstrapped and grown up to 455% approximately from 1st FY to 3rd FY, without raising any form of external funding whether debt or equity. But now, yes we are very bullish on raising first round of growth fund to take it to the next level.
When did you breakeven?
We have been profitable from very first order and have crossed 1 Cr. in sales in 36 months only.
Since when are you operational? How big is your team?
We are into business since the last 3 years and our team size is around 17-18 people including remote workers.
Are you looking at hiring?
During initial years our focus was on pain-killer hiring only, but now yes, we are aggressively focusing on growth stage hiring to setup a strong organizational structure that helps build and support a sustainable growth platform.
Could you tell us how it is to start an e-commerce venture in this field? Any vital tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Bootstrapping is not the preferred way to start an etailing business. I know I am contradicting my own path but that’s true if you want to deliver great customer experience from day one. Even if I will start another etailing venture, I won’t bootstrap either.
Also, getting noticed by customers is the real calculable and measurable differentiation for a startup. So get over the “free-shipping” and “lowest-prices” kind of stuff and figure out some serious “getting noticed strategy”, it will get you the real cash.
Are there other players in the market doing similar things? What is your USP?
Our new business strategies are putting us in front of few established players to compete with, like Myntra & Yebhi.
Indian etailing industry is not rising over ‘needs’ and instead is rising over ‘leisure’. Factors like lowest price, deals and discounts, and free shipping cannot offer a valuable differentiation in the long run.
So, we chose to sell “great customer experience” as our prime product and all other product line as by-products, and this is what sets us apart. We have worked very hard to institutionalize this core mythology and I believe our people with this brainset are our biggest USP.
If you feel good when your customer feels good, that’s an experience. So, a great experience delivery is more about streamlined human behaviour than smiling faces of customer service people. A great customer experience will help you breakdown the biggest barrier of Indian online shopping -trust factor.
Check out Goodbells.com for further details. Also, do not forget to share your thoughts on the venture by leaving a comment.