Kanti Sweets was started as a ‘sweet meat stall’ in a 6ft by 6ft space at Kempe Gowda Circle in Bengaluru in 1957 by Pandit Jyoti Swarup Sharma. After his demise in 1973, Rajendra Prasad, the second generation owner of the store, took up the family business. Since 2005, the business has been managed as a family partnership involving Shailendra Sharma and has now expanded to 41 stands and one kiosk at Hypercity Mall in Bengaluru.
With technology having revolutionised many industries, Kanti Sweets decided to embrace it to attract more customers by collaborating with UrbanPiper and Roadrunnr. They recently launched a mobile app to deliver their products, which include rasmalai, samosa, kachoris, and other sweets to their customers’ doorsteps.
Through the app users can locate the nearest Kanti Sweet’s outlet, place an order for delivery, and get notifications about their transactions. Users can keep an eye on their transaction history, purchases and provide feedback to their management team using the app. The app has also used geo-fencing features to prevent people from placing orders when they are outside the coverage area.
UrbanPiper helps merchants deliver a modern customer experience (in-store and m-commerce), which was founded by Saurabh Gupta. They consist of a team of six members and have developed applications for Chai Point and other clients. Roadrunnr founded by ex-Flipkart employees Mohit Kumar and Arpit Dave helps Kanti Sweets on the logistics front with deliveries. They recently raised $11M in funding from Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures.
YourStory spoke to Shailendra, who believes that going forward more conventional hyperlocal retailers will embrace technology to expand their business outreach. Kanti Sweets is among the few sweet makers to have ISO 9001-2008 and HACCP 22000: 2005 certifications. They have a 35,000 sq feet production centre in Rajajinagar, Bengaluru, which produces five to six tonnes of about 150 varieties of sweets daily. To reach this stage they have mechanized a significant component of their processes.
Shailendra believes that when it comes to the food sector both trust and honesty are very important. They source their raw materials and ingredients from trusted sources to ensure quality of the finished product. He adds,
We have been working with a large number of vendors and some have worked with us for more than 20–25 years. This is very important to ensure quality of raw materials. We source our ghee from Tamil Nadu, kesar from mainly Kashmir and Delhi, corn flakes and ground nuts from Gujarat.
For product innovations and various R&D activities, they take the help of Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. Also under the guidance of an ex-CFTRI scientist they setup an in-house laboratory, which facilitates analysis of the varieties of sweets to maintain quality.
The thought of a mobile app delivery services came out of a casual discussion when they realized that they had about 40 outlets spread across the city and could cater to customers more efficiently by going online. Shailendra adds, “If we had less number of outlets, it may have been difficult but with our current strength and capacity we can cater to most orders within two hours and in a few cases have even fulfilled orders within 15 minutes.”
Kanti Sweets has close to 1000 downloads for their app. They also found that their orders have risen from 10–12 a day to almost 50 through the app, with many being repeat orders. At present, the physical stores offer more variety than the mobile app. Shailendra explained the thought process, “We have noticed that some people who come to our stores are often confused about what they wish to buy because of the variety we offer. Therefore, we have kept our offerings on the mobile app limited to our most popular products to make it easier for both customers and us.”
While the food sector has good profit margins, the shelf life of most products especially in the confectionary space are quite small and this poses challenges. Most establishments have to vary their production cycles based on their understanding of the market and past experiences.
Shailendra adds, “Certain sweets like jalebis, sell better in a few stores and don’t sell as well in other locations. Another issue is clearing out all our inventory within their shelf life. In some countries, foodstuffs are sold at a discounted price towards the end of the working day to clear out inventory, but this has not yet caught up in India.”
Another challenge is hiring skilled manpower. Although in certain industries there are certified courses for chefs and bakers to prove their credentials, this is absent in the traditional Indian savouries sector. Here recipes are generally handed down from generation to generation. While some sweet making processes are easy to learn on the job, some others are quite difficult to master.
India as a country has a ‘sweet tooth’ and there is a constant demand for traditional and authentic sweets throughout the year for different festivals and occasions. By partnering with Urbanpiper and Roadrunnr, Kanti Sweets has opened another avenue to reach out to customers who are tech savvy and are already used to transacting on their smartphones.
Through the app, users can place an order for the same or next day. With a number of festivals and occasions in India, an option of pre-ordering a week or so in advance would be an added bonus. Generally, many customers visit sweet shops only a day or two before different festivals and sometimes do not find the sweets they are looking for. Thus, pre-orders will help the consumer as they are assured of their orders from a trusted source and sweet shops will be able to manage their inventory and estimate demand better during the festive season.
The current version of the app only supports cash on delivery (COD), but Saurabh from UrbanPiper adds that they are in the process of integrating RazorPay as their payment gateway to cater to more users. They are also working on a new desktop website to facilitate orders from the web too. An iOS app is also expected to be released in a few weeks.