The dal you get here just doesn't cut it for us.
This pizza just doesn't have the flavours the ones I had in Italy did.
We've all heard statements like these at some point or the other in our lives. And statements like these are what triggered the founding of SpiceSafari in Bengaluru. The founders, husband and wife duo Tulsi and Nitesh, constantly faced the problem of 'missing that right spice that would complete their recipe’.
"The thought behind the company was that if we, in a metropolitan city like Bengaluru, have problems sourcing ingredients, then what about people in Tier II and Tier III cities, and everyone across the globe?" adds Tulsi.
The duo researched the spice market (and related goods) to understand its sourcing and selling pattern, and realised that there was potential in this sector for a successful business venture.
There are so many brands and types of spices that the duo had no idea of that were already popular in the regions they operated in. Further, they did not scale up, due to high penetration costs. The couple then decided that e-commerce was possibly the best way to reach out to a global audience.
Their beta site was launched in February 2015, and the team began propagation with initial minor pushes on Facebook. With the feedback they received about the website and its workings, they launched SpiceSafari again in May 2015.
During the beta stage, they would see an average of 1200 visitors visiting the site per month, with a conversion rate of 2 per cent. Post marketing, traffic on the site has increased by 500 per cent, and the conversion rate has doubled.
"In spite of marketing only in India, we see more traffic from people across the globe. In fact, this trend has been present since right after our beta launch. So we have started to work on the international site and its legal requirements. We will be launching our international site by end of this month," says Tulsi.
However, like any other startup, SpiceSafari too met with its own set of challenges. Tulsi says that the market has a huge latitude - and with that, comes great turmoil. She adds that in a market like spices, finding the correct manufacturers is very important. But convincing these spice-dealers to work on SpiceSafari’s terms was a difficult task. Nevertheless, after field work and research, the team was able to onboard several manufacturers.
Currently, the team deals with a range of spices besides the usual and everyday. They have a wide variety of international products, that are classified into various categories: whole spice, powdered spice, masala/blends, spice extracts (oleoresins processed usually known as spices in liquid form), spices crafted by chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor and Jamie Oliver, international brands comprising Al Fez, Mama Africa and Discovery to name a few, non-caffeinated tea flavoured with lemon grass, yogi, saffron, spicy apple, ready to cook pastes, organic spices and home pounded spices.
The team tries to ship their products within 24 hours of the order. "Needless to say, we are going to attempt to make our customers aware of and have access to the large amounts of spices in the global market. In a short while, we will be shipping spices to over 260 countries worldwide," says Tulsi. The team stocks the products and sells them for a margin, like any other retailer.
Market of Spices
A largely unorganised space in India, the spice market has slowly begun to see a rise, especially in the international market. The branded segment of the spice market takes up 15 percent of the annual market of 40,000 crores. Global projections say that market size will be $ 16.6 billion by 2019. According to reports, close to 10 per cent of the spices exported from India go to the US.
"In addition to the organised market, we at Spicesafari aim to showcase extremely unique region-based collections of spices, and put them on a platform that will make them accessible across the globe," adds Tulsi.
The team's future plans include expanding their product portfolio to include preserves, pickles, dry fruits and savoury items from various parts of the world. They also aim to source even larger collections of spices, seasonings and preserves, and ship them across the globe.
"Also, we are introducing cuisines from across the globe, promising to deliver all the required spices, seasonings and add-ons. We will be presenting two cuisines, Persian and Sri Lankan, in the month of August," concludes Tulsi.