How ecommerce helped this Kolkata-based electrical company to stay afloat amid the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed several businesses online. This is true even for the consumer electrical industry, which saw players such as Crompton Greaves, Keltron, Usha International, and Onida reporting an increase in sales, thanks to the boom in online commerce.
Against this backdrop, SMBStory spoke to the founder of Kolkata-based electrical company Juvas’ founder Gaurav Bhutoria.
Founded in 2015, the company manufactures and sells electrical goods such as fans, switches, wires, cables, meters, bollard poles, and more.boasts of 2000 SKUs (stock-keeping units).
Gaurav, who is also the CEO of the company, shares how Juvas adopted e-commerce amid the pandemic.
In the early days of Juvas, Gaurav was not keen on exploring e-commerce, mostly due to the nature of the ecosystem. Until 2020, the company operated with the help of its network of 20,000 distributors, dealers and retailers.
“I didn’t focus on e-commerce because in our business, people prefer to touch and feel the product before buying it. However, COVID-19 has proven that it is a necessity now,” he says.
However, during the pandemic, Gaurav had to list Juvas on Amazon, Flipkart, and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform Udaan. The founder also adds that the last one and a half years have been tough because “work from home was never in our culture.”
Gaurav says that the company also hired interns during this time. “We realised that there were several young people who were sitting at home. So we hired them as interns to work on our digital strategy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also saw several trends emerge. While the demand for some products went up, others took a hit.
Gaurav highlights that the demand for products such as fans saw a rise whereas sales of goods like wires and cables, which have industrial and construction uses, decreased to almost zero as production and other related activities were completely halted.
“We also have several hospitals and government organisations as our clients. Since they were operating well during COVID-19, we were able to compensate for the losses,” Gaurav said.
Juvas’ clients include the Reserve Bank of India, Indian Railways, Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited, Barasat Municipality, Nadia Zila Parishad, among others.
Gaurav belongs to a traditional business-class family. His grandfather, Chand Bhutoria, started a capacitor distribution company in 1971. Gaurav’s father, Sanjay Bhutoria, later joined the business and expanded its operations. This is when the company became the official distributor for bigger players such as Havels and Polycab.
When Gaurav joined the business about 10 years ago after completing his studies, he realised that the business was already “well-structured” and the processes were “managed well.”
“For a month I had nothing to do but after that I was asked to find gaps within the business and also come up with something creative,” he tells SMBStory.
This turned out to be a turning point for him.
“After brainstorming I realised that with the distributor network that we have and our research team, we can actually come up with our own product, Gaurav says.
This is how the idea of Juvas germinated. Gaurav recalls that bringing about these changes within the business was not easy.
“Looking at bigger brands, I always felt compelled to invest in machinery, technology and more but it took sometime to get a nod from the seniors in the management.” The team also invested in adding machinery to the company’s unit in Kolkata.
Gaurav also adds that the company developed its own CRM software and integrated Salesforce into its system. “My father was open to new approaches and that really helped.”
Gaurav says that Juvas has been growing by more than 20 percent every year, but declines to give actual numbers.
Going forward, Gaurav says he doesn’t plan on opening an e-commerce store and that he wants to focus on strengthening its presence across online marketplaces.
“Our revenue currently from e-commerce platforms is around Rs 4 crore per annum. We plan to take this to Rs 6 crore by the end of this year.”
As for its offline business, Gaurav says that infrastructure and other developmental activities will push the demand for other products, especially, wire cables.