Ever wondered how the items you ordered reached well within time once the restriction on e-commerce was lifted? This Flipkart seller tells you how he did.
The coronavirus pandemic came as an unannounced shock to millions of small businesses across the country. Nearly three months later after it first made the headlines for mauling the economy, today, we are beginning to see stories of attempts at revival. Businesses, both big and small, have been quick on their feet and have been fighting hard to thrive in the new world order. And, this effort has intensified ever since the nation-wide lockdown was lifted.
In fact, many like Nilesh Dodeja, a mobile phone accessories retailer from Udaipur, says businesses like his leveraged the lockdown to take stock of the business and strategise the reboot. Retailing under the name Android Zone, Nilesh had just onboarded to Flipkart, over a year ago, to complement the revenues from his offline retail store.
While things were going well, he says, “the lockdown was announced and both my offline and online business came to a standstill immediately. Realising that worrying wouldn’t help solve the problem, I decided to focus on preparing how to capitalise on the market demand in the post-lockdown period, especially through the online business.”
The result was that as soon as the lockdown was lifted, not only was he able to start selling online immediately, but he was also able to meet 3x demand. “Our sales increased from 450 units a day to 1,200 units a day post lockdown.”
Making this possible took in-depth proactive planning and coordination, not only by the seller but also by Flipkart.
He says, “had kept us informed about the procedure to apply for e-passes to ensure seamless delivery to the customers, among other things. And, when the government permitted online sellers to start the business, Flipkart immediately reached out and asked if we would be resuming business.”
Steering through expected and unexpected hurdles
But, the journey was not without its share of challenges. Anticipating a rise in demand, Nilesh had ordered an additional stock of products. But, what he didn’t anticipate was that it would get stuck in transit. Here again, being a seller on Flipkart, turned out to be an advantage with the e-commerce platform providing the necessary documentation needed to avail the e-pass. “Because I already knew the process, I was able to get one without any back and forth.” Post this, the seller began receiving the products from the manufacturers without transit delays.
But, when the products did arrive and the orders began peaking, Nilesh had a new challenge at hand.
“My employees were hesitant to resume work and understandably so. And, the challenge was compounded by the fact that some of them resided near containment zones. Without their help, packaging became a practical challenge. That’s when my wife and daughter pitched in. We managed to take care of the packaging and make the most of the momentum, especially in the first two weeks.”
After 15 days, the staff showed readiness to resume work.
“What also helped was that we provided them with gloves, masks and sanitisers and implemented every safety protocol. This boosted their morale and confidence. And, in the last two weeks, work has been streamlined w.r.t to my online business. And, given that the delivery is taken care of by the E-kart team, products are reaching customers on time and safely,” shares Nilesh.
After stabilising his online business, in the second week of June, Nilesh was able to open his mobile accessories’ offline retail store, which he says has been harder to manage and streamline. “On some days, there is hardly anyone and absolutely no business. On others, the footfall is good, but this makes it hard to implement the social distancing protocols and ensure safety.”
This is why he says, “In comparison, selling online has been a breeze. It’s not just easier and better, but more importantly safer. Even if a customer returns a shipment, Flipkart sanitises and sends the shipment back.”
As a business owner running both - an offline and an online business, he opines that the online business has proved to be a big advantage, especially in the current scenario. And, given that this is only an indicator of the future disruption in the economy, Nilesh sides with the prediction that businesses will have to jump on to the online bandwagon to survive in the post-COVID world.
He says, “It has just been about a year since I started selling on Flipkart. But, even in this little time, I have seen how much it has contributed to the growth of my businesses. The sales from Flipkart contribute to 40 percent of my total business. The current crisis has further strengthened the case for businesses to see the merit in online selling.”
Nilesh is vocal about his opinion on why businesses must explore platforms like Flipkart, especially given the fact that thousands of small offline stores across the country are today fighting a losing battle to survive.
“As a seller on Flipkart, I can vouch for the e-commerce site’s support to its sellers. And, I believe Flipkart is a platform that businesses must explore. In the time to come, Flipkart will play a crucial role for the growth and survival of small businesses like the case has been for me.”
What does it take to start online selling
He is also quick to point out that the journey to start selling online isn’t rocket science and needs just a basic understanding of how the platform operates to kick off. Case in point is his own experience of becoming a seller on Flipkart. Interestingly, like many entrepreneurs from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, Nilesh is a second-generation entrepreneur, who instead of continuing the family business, started afresh to align with the market demand. “We belong to a middle-class family. My father had a general store where I helped until I was 25. I always saw my future as a businessman, but I decided to start that journey on my own. Spotting the growing popularity of mobile accessories, I decided to make a start there.”
After setting up a mobile accessories retail store, he felt he needed to venture into online selling to complement the revenues from the store. He says, Flipkart’s easy-to-use interface and process coupled with the help from the account managers, who pitched in to support at every stage, made the online journey easier than he imagined it to be. Interestingly, he points out that the platform has a Hindi interface, which can be of immense help to sellers from non-metros.
“There are a lot of sellers who do not understand English. I have come across a lot of people who are willing to start a business online, but cannot understand English. Flipkart’s Hindi interface makes it easier for everyone to begin selling online as it eliminates the language barrier.”
Today, reflecting on his journey, he says, “There are several reasons that make me proud to be an online seller. Coming from a small town, I am able to serve customers across the country. I have been able to grow my business and employ three people.”
And, given the challenging times that everyone is navigating today, he says “Like most people, I grew up hearing that it is important to keep up with the times. And, that has never been more relevant than it is today. Especially from a business perspective. I am happy that I have embraced online selling.”