How this Surat mompreneur took her family-run business online and steered 200 percent YoY growth
2013 was a milestone year for Honey Bajaj, for more than one reason. The year saw her taking on two equally challenging roles -- that of an entrepreneur and a mother.
“Luckily, I had my family to back me up,” says Honey. “While my husband and my father-in-law pitched in on the business front, my mother-in-law not only looked after my daughter, but also provided every bit of support I needed as a new mother.”
Honey was instrumental in helping her Surat-based family business pivot from being a small offline business that manufactured and retailed sarees to a successful online-only venture on Flipkart, while driving a jaw-gaping growth of more than 200 percent YoY for the last few years.
The journey from being a homemaker to an entrepreneur
An MBA holder from Rajasthan University, Honey consciously chose to be a homemaker after her wedding.
Having married into a home that owned a family-run business of manufacturing and retailing sarees, she soon realised that the traditional offline business was missing out on the potential of the online market. “I used to be one of those crazy online shoppers during my college days. I bought all my clothes online. And, now that I was on the other end. I saw how as a business we were missing out on catering to people who were like me in many ways.”
Honey suggested the family to take the business online through an e-commerce platform like Flipkart. But, since these were uncharted waters for her family, they asked Honey if she could help them navigate the challenge.
That marked Honey’s transition from being a homemaker to an entrepreneur. Encouraged by the family, she studied the opportunities of online selling deeply.
“That’s when I actually saw how internet penetration was a game-changer. Today, online shopping is the new retail therapy. The convenience, competitive price points and abundance of choice offered online are unmatched compared to the offline retail store. Since online selling is more convenient and structured, it really is a win-win.”
The research also pointed out that their customers and potential customers often bought from Flipkart. So, Honey decided to launch their online business on Flipkart under the brand name ‘Sarvagany Collections’.
Hitting the right notes to succeed
Recollecting Sarvagany Collections’ online journey, Honey shares, “I remember, it took us just 30 minutes to get registered on Flipkart. The process was simple and easy even for a first-timer.”
But while Honey was all geared up and ready to nurture the business’s online arm, when they initially started selling, they did not receive more than three orders a day. That’s when Flipkart’s Product Listing Ad program came handy.
“The programme helped us understand how to sell better and ensure visibility of our products. Flipkart suggested how we could advertise our products to reach more customers. The program helped us understand the nuances of online selling and what it takes to make the business profitable. The impact of the programme was visible in the increase in sales.”
In fact, Sarvagany Collections witnessed 200 percent YoY growth since 2015-16 for three years straight, peaking in 2018-19 with 10X growth. “This year, we are looking at closing with a 500 percent growth,” says Honey.
Looking back on their growth journey, Honey says, “When we started off, we assumed most of the business would come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, predominantly from North India. But, with Flipkart’s deep penetration across India, we realised we were getting orders from across the country. Slowly we began to see greater demand from the North East - a region that was a blind spot for traditional businesses. Today, customers from North East buy the highest number of sarees from us.”
And through it all, Flipkart is there, helping them understand these nuances and uncover new opportunities. “We were assigned an account manager who helped us fine-tune our strategies to boost sales and who pitches in to help whenever we feel we are unable to move further.”
And, the evident growth of the business and the future growth potential, meant that the family saw how they could capitalise on the opportunity of online selling if they were to put all their efforts here. “From a traditional neighbourhood shop, we evolved into an online-only business. We decided to become a pure play online business after being only a physical store for so many years. And, that actually sums up the opportunity that a platform like Flipkart can open for a small business like ours.”
A new kind of ‘luxury’ is now a reality
“The business is growing from strength to strength. We have very efficient staff to help us manage the day to day operations. We are now a 20-member organisation spread across Surat, Kolkata, Haryana, Ludhiana and Hyderabad. While my husband takes care of the business side, I am focusing on the design of our products,” says Honey, giving a quick update of her business today.
Sarvagany Collections is now looking to foray into seasonal clothing. “As a business, we have been retailing sarees for decades. But, I think, we now have the bandwidth to experiment. We want to diversify and expand our product portfolio. We think seasonal clothing like woollen clothing, summer-friendly t-shirts and raincoats have a big market. We have already started the preparation to bring some of these products to the market. We recently listed woollen clothing on Flipkart and made good sales. This has furthered strengthened our business roadmap.”
Having set a strong foundation, streamlined operations, and strategised the growth plan, Honey says she has now turned her attention to her child. “I now get to spend a lot more time with my daughter. A lot of mothers, especially working mothers, will agree that this is anything but a luxury - to be in the moment, to be uninterrupted, and enjoy the process of growing together.”