This duo wants to make world a better place with a Switch Fix: sustainable products
More than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been generated and discarded in the world since 1950, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Of that, 60 percent has ended up in either a landfill or in the natural environment.
Abhishek Kumar and Rhea Shulka, Co-founders of The Switch Fix, a.k.a Meliorism Switchism Private Limited, are hoping to change that with their sustainable ecommerce platform for healthier, high-quality bath and beauty products that are also shipped plastic-free.
The team built its resolve towards this initiative after they visited a landfill to gauge the extent of the damage done by toxic consumption and unsustainable disposal practices.
“We knew something had to be done. We were reminded of the word 'meliorism', or the belief that the world can be made better by human effort. And so, the fix was as simple as making that switch to better options,” Abhishek said.
Founded in December 2018, Switch Fix produces and sells hygiene products such as soaps, shampoo bars, hair blends, and bamboo toothbrushes. Its conservation mission extends beyond the products they make. The founders claimed that their manufacturing partner sources 70 percent of their ingredients locally, which in turn decreases the carbon footprint of the products.
Their plastic-free "packaging" comprises cylindrical recycled paper boxes wrapped in Kraft paper and paper tape. The bars are wrapped in wax paper, and their liquid conditioners come in glass bottles with aluminium caps. Instead of bubble wrap, the team uses paper strips as padding. The boxes are sturdy enough to be repurposed for storing items like stationery and jewellery.
While a significant part of their products is sold online, customers can also collect their orders from the Switch Fix office in Gurugram.
One of the biggest challenges the team has faced is competition from commercial manufacturers. This is compounded by the fact that the market for eco-products is still in its nascent stage.
The lack of alternate resources means that players like Switch Fix are not on a level playing field compared with commercial manufacturers, and this makes manufacturing, logistics, and the supply chain logistics expensive.
Switch Fix’s commitment to working with suppliers who use eco-friendly packaging has also posed several challenges. However, the team is committed to increasing awareness among its vendors and believes that increasing awareness among consumers looking for eco-friendly alternatives will create that demand.
Today, they receive 15-20 orders a day from Tier I cities across India. They have also committed 25 percent of their proceeds to providing better health opportunities to children living near landfills.
Using WhatsApp to grow
The team stated that they use WhatsApp primarily to interact with customers. The features that they use frequently are the Web version, Auto Replies, and Labels.
“WhatsApp has helped us optimise the purchase funnel by over 5 percent.It is also integral to enhanced customer support. Right from acquisition to sales and shipping support and aftersales, WhatsApp plays a very important role in faster and precise communication.”
Abhishek said WhatsApp had strategically helped them improve customer service scores. “A customer had wanted to add a personalised message for his fiancée, but forgot to do so. He contacted us on WhatsApp. We pulled out the order from the shipping queue and added a lovely message before dispatching it.”
“We hope they remember us at their wedding,” he added in a lighter vein.