How 3 fresh-out-of-college entrepreneurs in the gifting market grew from 40 orders to nearly 18000 orders a month
For all the talk about generation gap, one of the things that remains unchanged is deep familial bonds among Indians. And young India loves to celebrate these bonds and relationships with some quirky and not-so-traditional gifting options. Take for instance, a wall hanging that says ‘Mummy ka Dhaba’, to coasters with light-hearted quotes featuring typical ‘dad dialogues’ down the ages (Baap Hu Main Tera, Office Se Aate Huye Kya Lau?). Not your typical gifts for Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, right?
And, one startup catering to this need for quirky and innovative expressions is Jaipur based-Indibni®. Founded by three friends, Nitin Jain, Ankit Jain and Khushbu Mathur, Indibni, which defines itself as an ‘Indian indigenous content production company’, started out as an all-in-one design house in 2012 helping build brand stories via print, electronic and social media. Refining their business strategy, the startup began focusing on relationship-based products and merchandise and launched their signature gifting brand, Indigifts®, in 2014. Indigifts has 15,000+ items on its catalogue, including cushions, coffee mugs, fridge magnets, whiteboard, wall clocks, tote bags, t shirts, key chains, badges, magnetic photo Frames, notebooks, bag tags, kitchen plate, car danglers, wristbands, diaries and bookmarks, activity books and more.
Nitin, Co-Founder and CEO, Indibni, says, “While we offer gifting merchandise, we call ourselves storytellers because we have developed a design language which is quirky and vibrant, and characters that are part of everyday life in India. We have something for everyone in the big Indian family – Father, Mother, Grandparents, Brother, Sister, Sister-in-law, Friends, even pets. We use Hinglish and dialogues which are part of everyday conversations across Indian homes.”
He explains that while there are others in the space, they don’t offer direct competition to Indibni. “What we see is that the big players do not have enough range of utility products other than cushions, mugs, key chains or magnets, and the smaller players don’t have a relatable design language. We specialise in making exclusive gifts to celebrate every relationship. Our design thinking ensures that it strikes an emotional chord almost instantly. Our products are not mere products at the end of the day, they help engage and express the warmth of a relationship.”
Building a brand, not just business
When Indibni® launched Indigifts®, they began by exploring traditional sales channels. “We were selling our products in events, exhibitions and retail stores by collaborating with partners, and were experiencing challenges that many small or medium scale sellers go through – dead stock, high commissions and logistical challenges, among a host of others.”
But these challenges were addressed when the startup began exploring online sales channels on e-commerce marketplaces. “Even though Indibni was still in its infancy and wasn’t making any major headway in the offline market, we registered on Amazon.in in 2014.”
Nitin says, “The seller support was great. They not only helped us in listing our products, but also guided us with right methods of photography, products descriptions, branding, marketing and reaching right customers.”
With Indibni started selling on Amazon.in, they began with just 500 products with a monthly average of 20 to 40 orders. Four years later, their catalogue has expanded to include 15,000 products and they receive nearly 18,000 orders in a month.
Nitin says, “Registering as a seller on Amazon helped us minimise our costs in terms of fees, logistics, transportation and inventory management. By using Amazon.in’s fulfilment programmes and courier partnerships, we could greatly reduce our everyday hassles of order processing, packaging and tracking updates. Amazon.in Prime opened many doors to reach a wider customer segment.” Today, online sales accounts for nearly 90 percent of Indibni’s total revenue.
The co-founder says that registering on Amazon.in not only helped to build their business but also the brand. “Initially, it was challenging for us to express our vision. And, as youngsters who were just out of college working on out-of-the-box ideas, acceptance was hard to find, sometimes even from our own families. But, slowly we began to receive messages from customers, mostly unknown and a few known ones. They had either brought our products on Amazon to gift someone or someone had gifted our products. And, when they say good things about Indigifts, the motivation to work harder goes a notch higher. Today, thanks to our presence on Amazon, we not only have been able to drive the business but we are able to showcase the work we do.”
Why e-commerce can redefine the growth of Indian gifting market
Indibni® is excited about the future of the gifting market in India. “Today, the Indian gifting market is pegged at $30 billion, of which the digital space accounts for only around $400 million. Studies show that retail will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 9 percent between FY18 and FY23 while the Indian e-commerce market will grow by around 36 percent. This, in turn, will increase Indian e-commerce’s penetration from 2.1 percent in 2017-18 to around 6.2 percent in 2022-23. That’s one half of the story. The other half is that as a player we have a strong understanding of the market segment and have been able to gain a strong foothold in the gifting space. To sum up the story, there’s room for growth and we are positive that Indibni can maximise on that opportunity,” reiterates Nitin.
He believes that initiatives like Startup India, Make in India, Digital India and Skill India have been instrumental in increasing awareness and exposure about market opportunities among small and medium businesses in tier 2 and 3 cities. “Today, businesses from non-metros, small urban and rural towns clearly understand why going online is a business enabler, which wasn’t the case a few years ago. And, it only helps that global e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon are helping such businesses to grow not just their business but also build a brand.”
Fulfil your big dreams as an Amazon Seller
Nitin, Ankit and Khushbu’s story is a great example of entrepreneurs who can grow their business manifold in a short time without having to break the bank and invest huge amounts of money, or relocate to another city. All it took was #BadaltiSoch, which led him to register as sellers on Amazon.in, brought him access to millions of potential customers, and gave him ample time to focus on other aspects of growing his business since Amazon.in was handling all storage and fulfilment worries.