[Startup Bharat] Kochi-based NatureLoc lets customers buy locally produced spices and homemade food products
Indian spices are renowned across the world for their rich taste, texture, aroma, and medicinal value. According to an IBEF report, Indian spices worth $3.65 billion were exported in FY20 alone.
Joshy Thomas, Tomy Joseph, Jaisy Augustine, and Divya John, who come from agricultural families, are aware of the significance of not just locally produced spices, but also of food products and homemade food.
In 2016, the four relatives launched Kochi-based ecommerce platformto enable consumers to purchase chemical-free, authentic, farm-grown, and homemade food products and spices sourced directly from small-scale farmers and local producers.
Speaking to YourStory, Divya explains, “NatureLoc.com was started with a vision to sell natural and local products directly to customers online. The startup was launched with an initial investment of Rs 1 lakh and two employees. The portal was launched by listing only three products: honey, arrowroot powder, and coconut oil.”
NatureLoc is now a team of 10 people, who look after various aspects, including procurement, packaging, shipping, accounts, and online SEO among others.
Image Credit: NatureLoc
Local products sourced directly from farmers
Divya explains that NatureLoc’s top sellers include curry powder, honey, ghee, banana powder, Malabar tamarind, dried products, pickles, rice products, flour, and coconut oil among others.
The co-founder explains that all products are directly sourced from the farmers. Processing and packaging is done by the company at their Kottayam facility to ensure quality products are available to users.
Currently, NatureLoc has more than 800 products listed in various categories such as food products, herbal care products, textile, jewellery, kitchenware, and home decor.
"We began with three products on our site, and now have 800 items. Each item was added based on request from customers, and the list is growing day by day. We don’t usually entertain other brands to be listed on our site unless there is regular demand from customers,” Divya says.
Illustration: YS Design
Business and more
Explaining about the business model, Divya says the company charges a retail commission for all products sold through the platform.
"We process close to 1,500-2,000 orders on a monthly basis and this goes up considerably during festival seasons, especially Vishu, Onam, Bakri Id, and Christmas," she says.
She adds that most of the website traction is driven through SEO and word of mouth. NatureLoc claims to have around 2,000 to 3,000 visits on its website per day.
Divya says NatureLoc had to close down operations intermittently due to COVID-19-led lockdowns.
"With most of the product sourcing coming to a halt, either by way of farmers delaying harvest schedules or suppliers closing down supplies, our regular functioning suffered. But COVID-19 has changed the online purchasing behaviour of customers," she says.
NatureLoc doesn't offer cash on delivery for its services. The co-founder says, amidst the pandemic, customers are more open to online payments and the platform has recorded an increase in demand.
The Indian ecommerce segment is dominated by several notable players such as, Amazon, Myntra, , , and , disrupting the apparel, food and grocery segment.
“There are numerous players offering similar items such as spices, food products etc but not to our scale," the co-founder claims.
The bootstrapped startup is at present looking for external funding to scale up the business and expand to global markets.