Smoor founder Vimal Sharma on how the chocolate brand scaled up during the pandemic to get 10K orders a month

Speaking at YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2021, Vimal Sharma, Founder, Director, and CEO of Smoor, detailed on the survival lessons during the pandemic and how digital adoption was the key for growth.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has rewritten the script on the way businesses were run in India. For entrepreneurs, the pandemic was a reality check, which accelerated digital adoption to run their businesses. 

“We had never thought we would move this fast,” said Vimal Sharma, Founder, Director, and CEO, SMOOR - a premium chocolate brand based out of Bengaluru. 

At YourStory’s flagship startup-tech event, TechSparks 2021, Vimal spoke about how he crafted a luxury chocolate brand in India and survived the pandemic. He also gave some tips and tricks on the importance of digital adoption.

Making a shift: offline to online

Founded in 2015, Smoor had been primarily an offline brand serving customers through its dine in space. The brand has a small online presence through a marketplace

“We had 90 percent revenue coming from our offline business. It was just a few days before the COVID-19 hit India that we had launched our website to sell as a D2C brand, and now we are getting 90 percent of our business from online sales,” says Vimal.

For most businesses during the pandemic, shifting the business model to online was one of the biggest pivots, and D2C became the buzzword. 

“Though we had our organic channel, we didn’t ignore the benefits of online presence as part of a marketplace like Amazon, Flipkart or Bigbasket. The marketplace presence has its own perks.”

In the toughest of times, a business should be ready to adapt to the changing environment and agile to hit each door. For Smoor, Vimal said that selling through its own website was more of giving an experience to customers through customisation, but the presence on the marketplace increased the number of sales. 

“From cataloging to suit the average ticket-size demand to ensuring smooth delivery of perishable products through in-house partners and the marketplace, backend integration, and adopting digital tools for the same. The task was huge, but it was the need of the hour,” Vimal said. 

Vimal Sharma speaking at TechSparks 2021

There’s no ‘one’ thing that suits all

Entrepreneurs must understand there’s no one thing that would fit all the business requirements. There are multiple systems that need to fit in and it is the duty of the entrepreneur to bring those multiple systems into one dashboard, said Vimal. 

“Ours is a business that needs monitoring right from quality checking, manufacturing, to the time it reaches customers. Hence, we implemented a software that integrates all the operations.”

Based on the nature of the business, requirements vary at each step, and hence, adopting software solutions saves a lot of hassle. 

“Now, we are present as an offline store in Bengaluru, Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, and Chennai, but we are serving 11,000 pin codes via online. This happened amid the pandemic with automation in our business workings,” Vimal said. 

Innovation at the crux

Not just digital adoption and automation in manufacturing, Vimal said they are also implementing IoT in their delivery services. 

The innovation doesn’t happen in a jiffy, Vimal said, adding there needs to be a lot of research, understanding, working on customer feedback, and a critical approach on improving customer experience.

In Smoor’s factories and dine in spaces, Vimal has also installed data loggers to monitor the temperatures of chocolates. “The nature of the business is traditional, but as we are in an era of digitisation, we have to go with the pace to grow,” Vinay said. 

Speaking about the future, Vimal said, he wants to further enhance digitisation and automation at Smoor. 

“The journey has been challenging, but it is satisfying to see that so much innovation has happened, which we could never think of.”

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Edited by Megha Reddy