After a 4-month-long lull, this online seller on Flipkart is optimistic about the festive season
The four-month long festive season in India has officially begun. The only difference is that while the celebrations traditionally made way for large social gatherings and families and friends to come together, this year the celebrations are, at most, limited to small gatherings. Most people are limiting the celebrations to the confines of their homes.
For businesses too, the festive season was also the busiest time of the year. “Last year, 40 percent of our annual sales were made during the festive season,” says Rajesh Rajpurohit, aseller who hails from the town of Bikaner in Rajasthan and retails apparel on the e-commerce site. His business clocked a revenue of Rs 2 crore in FY 2019-20.
This year too, Rajesh has ramped up preparations for the festive season. “Our manufacturing facility is in full swing. The production is on track.” He adds that while the factory is fully functional, they are also ensuring that all the safety protocols are being followed - from sanitisation to social distancing.”
How Flipkart helped him build a growing business
Rajesh continues to grow as an entrepreneur today. But, his plunge into entrepreneurship happened by chance. “I never had a goal of starting my own business. I only wanted to live a better life,” he confides. Rajesh was working as a Junior Engineer at a small firm in Jaipur. “The work was exhausting. At the same time, I had to be away from family,” he says. Deciding to start something on his own, he first opened an offline electronic store. “It was then someone suggested that one could even start an online business on Flipkart.”
However, at that time, given that only a few had set up online businesses in the city, he didn’t know anyone who could guide him on how he could start and run one.
“So I was completely dependent on the Flipkart Seller Support team. I would often meticulously list down the questions to ask the seller support team.”
Rajesh reveals that the Seller Support team on Flipkart not only hand-held him throughout the process of onboarding and helped him understand the process of product listing, order fulfilment but also gave him insights on market trends and customer demands. “In fact, it was the Flipkart Seller support team that helped my foray into the kidswear category, “ he says. He started Lakshit Enterprises in 2018 on Flipkart.
Flipkart’s expansive reach of its pick-up operations across India, was helpful in bringing thousands of MSMEs, domestic manufacturers, artisans and sellers like Rajesh into the e-commerce fold. Rajesh explains, “The fact that Flipkart offers seller pick-up operations made it easy for me to run the business.”
Venturing into manufacturing
In the initial months of his online journey, Rajesh sourced his products, but by the end of the first year, he started manufacturing his own apparel.
“Nine months into the online business, the business was growing steadily and I became more confident. I began manufacturing a few of our products. Initially, I got one machine and manufactured some garments at home. Today, I have four machines for cutting and stitching and rented additional space.”
Rajesh says that while they still source some of the products, most of the products are today manufactured in-house.
The pivot to manufacturing also meant that they had better control of product quality and thereby, better customer satisfaction. “As a family, we all sat down every day to check each of the products for even the smallest of defects.” The effort translated to good customer ratings and also better inflow of demand - from 20 units a day two years ago to 350 units today.
For Rajesh, being able to manufacture most of the products in-house has also reduced his dependency on third-party sellers while simultaneously increasing his profit margins. An additional benefit has been that the business is largely unaffected by the fluctuations in the local market since they have end-to-end control over manufacturing - right from raw material sourcing to producing them. This has also been instrumental in enabling the online seller to expand his portfolio beyond childrens apparel. “We now have products across men and women’s clothing range as well - from T-shirts to sarees to ethnic wear.”
Online business: a big opportunity for small-town talent
Reflecting on his two-year journey as an online seller on Flipkart, Rajesh says that when he started out his family couldn’t comprehend the concept of online selling.
“E-commerce was a new experience for everyone in the family, including me. They didn’t understand online selling, nor did they think it would grow so much. Today, I have my own manufacturing unit and employees who work for me. The whole journey of starting out with bare minimum knowledge about the e-commerce platform to becoming a business owner has been unbelievable.”
He adds, “My entire family not only takes pride in the business but also pitches in to process the customer orders”
But, what brings Rajesh a sense of fulfilment is the fact that he has been able to provide employment opportunities to local talent. Rajesh says, “People from smaller cities, even today, don’t have access to good job opportunities in their hometown, and move to bigger cities in hope of better opportunities. In doing so, they often leave behind their families. But, life in the big city is equally hard as well.” Rajesh's life experience has been a testimony to this reality.
Running both an offline and online business, the first-generation entrepreneur says he is able to experience the benefits of online selling first hand.
“On Flipkart, the payments arrive on schedule, unlike in the offline business where there is a lot of uncertainty. In addition, online business requires little investment and effort to grow. You also have easy access to a very large customer base, which is unthinkable in an offline scenario.”
Battling COVID-19 challenges
While the nation-wide lockdown made it extremely challenging to continue the business, Rajesh reveals that the sales are now slowly resuming to pre-COVID-19 times. “I had to close the operations temporarily earlier this year. We relied on some savings to push through the lockdown period. We resumed sales on Flipkart in June. The sales volumes are now picking up rapidly.”
The challenges brought about by the current pandemic further reinstated the benefits of online selling. “In addition to being able to quickly get the business up and running, many online businesses have been able to support their staff even in the downtime. This came as a big relief for people from small towns, who could sustain their jobs in their hometowns. In contrast, many offline businesses have been compelled to let go of their employees.”
Today growing a successful online business from Bikaner has also made way for many others from small towns to venture into online selling and thereby write their own success stories.
“I am thankful to Flipkart for helping me grow and become successful. I am equally thankful that Flipkart will enable thousands of people like me out there.”
If you are a manufacturer, vendor or supplier, or someone who wants to simply sell your products online, start your journey on Flipkart. With access to seller workshops, training, seller support, Flipkart Fulfilment services, among others, Flipkart helps you become a top e-commerce player Know more here.