From Tirupati to Shirdi; Seek Blessings via OnlinePrasad
We recently wrote about niche eCommerce sites and included OnlinePrasad in our list. This particular company struck us as something which wouldn't have been conceivable even a decade ago! So, we got in touch with the folks to know their story.
A known fact- even on a favourably less crowded occasion, it would take probably no less than a quarter of a day to offer prayers at Tirupati’s famous temple. And in today’s world of endless touring and never-ending deadlines, Online Prasad offers an innovative solution that delivers Prasad from a whole host of temples right at your doorstep.
Goonjan Mall, the founder and CEO of Online Prasad says, “We connect people to their faith. Seeking God's blessing is something very important for all of us. This is especially true in case of special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and festivals but there are lot of times when it would not be possible to personally visit a temple. This is where we come in.”
“At Online Prasad, we strive to achieve 100% customer satisfaction through best quality and timely delivery.”
Goonjan was struck with the idea when he visited the Karni Mata temple during Navratri with his family. “That was when I realized that over the years the queue for the temple was getting longer. It was hard for us to even enter the temple. This got me thinking as to what could be done to make the temple experience better.”
“It then struck me that if we couldn't take the temple out to people, we could give them the next best thing – Prasad! And, that's how it all began!”
An alumnus of BITS Pilani, Goonjan’s team consists of Sushil Kumar Mall whose 20 plus years of business experience come into play. Partha is an IIM-A grad who helps in strategy and Pratik leads social media efforts. The team is ably assisted by interns who look into market research and social media marketing.
Looking not a long way back, the first Prasad offered online was on 1st Jan 2012 from the Ranisati Dadi temple, based at Jhunjhunu. “Surprisingly, a major chunk of our orders are from tier-2/3 towns,” informs Goonjan.
Revenue Model and Marketing
Since things are still in the experimentation phase, the company is trying to figure out the best possible way to reach out to their target group and methods including pamphlet distribution and social media have been given a shot.
“A big problem is that a lot of people are offline – and we have seen some success via targeted SMS marketing,” says Goonjan.
Apart from selecting the best quality packaging materials and having personally inspected the quality of sweets being sent, the company follows a drop shipping model – which avoids a lot of hassle in terms of warehousing.
One of the potential challenges faced could be an assumption that the target audience is centred on a more religious and hence, elderly and a less tech savvy age group.
But, Goonjan refutes this hypothesis saying, “In a country like ours the culture of religion, devotion and faith is very strong, and is inculcated right from childhood! If you visit a temple, you’ll find people of all age groups at the temple! “
“However, if you compare today’s scenario and that of 10 years ago, there can be noticed, a couple of significant changes, they being, lack of time to actually visit temples and higher internet connectivity even among the older generation. Plus, we also have bank payment option, where users can deposit cash at any SBI counter and this helps us tap the older generation.”
Logistics looks like it’s a key issue since most of the temples are actually located in villages. “Plus, Prasad being perishable adds to the woes! Luckily, after a couple of initial hiccups, we are more or less set now!”