Loyalty programs as a concept is still finding its footing in India. While Indian retailers are yet not completely convinced of the idea, internationally most retailers have a well-oiled loyalty program. In India, Shoppers Stop which has been one of the earliest adopter of such a program, and today is reaping the benefit of their investment. A whopping 75% of Shoppers Stop sales comes through their loyalty program! Just as retail and shopping is moving online, we also have loyalty programs shifting mediums.
We recently found out about Forysta Ventures – a startup that is leveraging technology to make a difference to the concept of loyalty programs. However what Forysta is doing is build a complete end-to-end model, where merchants can use the online space to sell, engage with customers and also have them be part of the loyalty program as well. Forysta has three products to do this. First -- SalenOffers.com – which an information portal for customers to come and look for deals, offers and coupons across various cities. SalenOffers also has a B2B arm, which is working with companies like MasterCard India, Idea Cellular, Hindustan Times and Vodafone India to conceptualise programs for their customers. Forysta also has an mCoupon tech platform for these companies, which has been a major growth driver for the venture. Their other product is Wookart -- a virtual mall SaaS-based technology platform where retail merchants can create their own eCommerce and mCommerce sites. Their last product is inloyal -- mobile app-based loyalty platform solution, which is programmed to take care of a company’s CRM activities on a holistic level. Via inloyal, a brand can have its own loyalty program created, integrated with its storefronts and hosted on cloud.
Started by Kunal & Urvi Mehta in 2009, Kunal claims Forsyta has grown well since their second year of operations and have grown about 60% year-on-year on an average in revenues. Kunal has done his Masters in Commerce from Mumbai and worked with Directi and RK Swamy BBDO for sometime. “I was very impatient and wanted to work on a lot of ideas. So I quit one day, gave myself some time and started work to build Forysta Ventures,” says Kunal. He says the opportunity for loyalty cards/services in India is huge. “The opportunity size walks hand-in-hand with the retail growth in India as more the retail market develops, more the need for a robust CRM platform which brands could roll out their programs on. But the main bottleneck lies in awareness,” he says. CRM, as a retail function, is yet to catch the attention of many retailers as many are busy with sales and operations and other factors which go into making a retail business click. “CRM has never been given its due importance by Indian retailers, barring a few, because it is not goal-critical, which is why many retail companies tend to put loyalty and CRM in the backseat. The truth is CRM can drive your business and the leisure of ignoring that is not going to be an option soon,” emphasises Kunal.
Various industry reports peg the loyalty market in India to be anywhere between Rs 5,000 and 8,000 crore. And the sectors that will help grow this space is retail, particularly apparels & accessories, F&B, malls, jewellery and such. Currently Capillary Technologies, mloyal and Qwikcilver are other brands that operate in the same space as inloyal of Forysta. Talking about the difference between inloyal and the others, Kunal says they are the first players in the market where retailers can create their own white-labelled loyalty programs and also offer customers a mobile app-based interface through which customers can connect and engage with them and vice versa.
On the customer front, Forsyta provides individuals a single platform to manage their own loyalty programs by themselves. “We have built a platform where retail customers can directly engage with their various loyalty memberships via inloyal,” explains Kunal. Currently the venture is working with 60 retail brands across verticals. But despite the large client base, getting regular cash flow has been a challenge says Kunal. Most marketing and advertising for the company has been through digital marketing, using Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, and Kunal says they are now exploring conventional media like print as well.
Forysta has a team size of 22 people across their offices in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Team members include people in business development & marketing, sales & alliances, content & operations, technology development and quality assurance. Getting good quality people to join them in their teams has equally been a challenge for him. As they continue to make inroads into the retail and customer mindspace, Kunal says his short term goal is to help establish a market for CRM in India and to do that he wants to educated retailers about the importance of having a CRM strategy and a loyalty program. While for the long term, he wants to make inloyal -- an all-in-one CRM platform where both customers and retailers can come aboard and engage with each other to a create lasting retail experience.