Quitting his job of 17 years in an MNC, this engineer built a Rs 12.5-crore brand on Flipkart
Mokshi, a women’s ethnic wear brand that retails on, dispatched 70,000 orders in six days during the e-commerce platform's The Big Billion Days Sale in October 2020, while earning Rs 6 crore. “On an average, we received 8x more orders than what we get on regular days. This was even more than The Big Billion Days Sale from previous years where the average increase was 5x,” says Ritesh Kumar Sharma, the founder of Mokshi. He says, “The 2020 Big Billion Days Sale was our best sales experience yet. It was even more significant than previous years considering it was a challenging year for businesses.”
The ‘big’ moment
A 40-member team worked in shifts round-the-clock for 15 days while following COVID-19 safety protocols as mandated by the government and Flipkart. Interestingly, the preparations for the sale started five months ahead. “We started manufacturing and stocking up products that were wishlisted most by customers. Flipkart provided us the insights and the data that helped with the planning,” he explains.
2016 marked Ritesh’s first The Big Billion Days Sale participation. It was just a few months after he had launched the brand on Flipkart. “I still remember, we observed a sudden spike in demand. We thought the website was malfunctioning. That’s how unbelievable it was for us as a young brand.” With assistance from Flipkart’s product manager, the team was able to fulfill the orders and dispatch 4,000 orders during the sale period. In 2017, Ritesh was awarded the ‘Top City Flipstar’— an award given to select sellers for their hard work and success during the festive period and the Big Billion Days Sale. Since then, he has been winning the award consecutively for three years.
Interestingly, the Big Billion Days Sale 2020 saw 1.5X the number of transacting sellers as compared to 2019, among whom more than 35 percent witnessed 3x more sales compared to the previous year. Ritesh was among the three sellers who were awarded ‘Top City Flipstar’ for Jaipur for clocking most business in terms of revenue and product units.
From survival to growth: How online selling on Flipkart was a game-changer
Ritesh’s foray into entrepreneurship happened by chance. An engineer by education, he was earlier working in an MNC. “I am not from a family that had any inkling of how a business is run or what it demands. However, I always thought of starting one,” shares Ritesh. It was not until his wife expressed her interest in launching a women’s ethnic wear business that he actually began working on the idea. In 2013, he and his wife started a women’s ethnic wear business. “We were unaware of the perks of e-commerce and we initially built an offline business. It got very challenging to sustain the business with limited reach and payment delays.” When a friend suggested taking the online route, the couple decided to make the shift. In 2016, they launched Mokshi on Flipkart.
“It was a do or die situation,” recalls Ritesh. But the decision proved to be in the business’ favour. Starting from just 8-10 orders a day, the numbers spiked to 150-200 orders a day in a span of three months. All this while Ritesh managed the online business and continued to work at the MNC. However, by the end of six months, it became challenging to manage both - the job and the business. “ By then, the business had stabilised and we had a clear idea of how to run an online business.” Ritesh then quit his job of 17 years at the MNC. Initially, the husband and wife duo functioned out of one-room office space. By the end of the first year on Flipkart, Ritesh’s business revenue reached Rs 1.75 crore. As the business grew, so did the team size and the office space. “When I started selling on Flipkart, we had just two racks of clothes in a small room. Today, we have 300+ racks, a large workspace and 100+ employees. My products are stocked in Flipkart warehouses in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Gurgaon for easy and fast shipment.” Mokshi’s revenue continued to grow consistently. In FY 2019-20, it touched Rs 9.75 crore. “This financial year, we are expected to touch Rs 12.5 crore in revenue.”
A key change with the growth of the business was the fact that Ritesh was able to pivot the business model from one where they sourced ethnic wear to manufacturing on their own. “We now have our own manufacturing unit with 100+ machines and close to 100 people working with us.”
The growth drivers
Ritesh says that ensuring consistency in quality of products, shipping on time and researching and keeping up with market trends have been the key factors that have helped him build Mokshi. He credits Flipkart for supporting him throughout the journey. “It was the Flipkart account manager who helped us broaden our perspective. It was due to him that we began to see ourselves as a brand and not just as an online business. Flipkart told us what it would require us to build a brand on the e-commerce marketplace,” says Ritesh. In addition, Flipkart was instrumental in helping the seller with ad campaigns, product listings and analysing customer reviews. “All of this helped us improve our products and cater to the needs of customers.”
Ritesh points out that when they began building Mokshi as a brand on Flipkart, there were already several other well-established brands present on the platform. “Despite the competition, we saw room for growth. A small business like ours was able to metamorphosise into a brand, something that is possible only on e-commerce platforms like Flipkart. Today, I strongly believe that if an entrepreneur is looking at building a brand then online is the way to go.”
One of the factors why e-commerce platforms like Flipkart enable small businesses to grow is because of the advantage of transparency, says Ritesh. “When you are aware of what products sell more and at what price, it makes it easier to make decisions and work on your strategy. Most importantly, there is no delay in payments unlike in the offline market where you are compelled to earmark at least 5 percent of your transactions for credit-based transactions. Another challenge is the fact that you don’t have any strategic method to keep track of market demands or change in trend, so sometimes you are left with inventory that may never get sold.”
The seller points out that while there were no major setbacks, the pandemic and the restrictions imposed during the lockdowns came as a rude shock. “When the restrictions were imposed, there was so much uncertainty. We thought the good times had come to an end. However, when the market reopened in May last year, we were back to running our business on Flipkart. Orders picked up and the Big Billion Days Sale made up for the brief halt in the business we had earlier that year.”
Having built a successful women’s wear ethnic brand and a strong grip of the mechanics of brand building and online selling, Ritesh is now looking to diversify the business and foray into western wear, menswear and kidswear as well.