The Indian cartridge refilling industry is growing by leaps and bounds owing to incerased usage of cartridges for various printing needs. In this sector, Cartridge Xpress is looking to widen its presence via franchise model. In an interview, Baldeep Singh Pahwa, Owner of Cartridge Xpress, shares brand’s expansion plans.
Priyanka Rai (PR): Share with us the growth and success of Cartridge Xpress.
Baldeep Singh Pahwa (BSP): Cartridge Xpress is the partner of American brand based in New Jersey, USA and decided to spread the wings across India. It came into existence in 2007. When I began business, it was easier to identify the opportunity in the fragmented refilling business and turn it into an integrated solution for all our retail and corporate clients. We have built the business from scratch and the experience has been amazing. Being partnered with an American brand, led to a larger influx of capital for expansion and growth with which we established our own in-house production facility of compatible inkjet and toner cartridges.
PR: What is the specialty of Cartridge Xpress?
BSP: At present, we have a wide range of products starting from the basic refilling of inkjet and toner cartridges and going up to provision of compatibles which costs approximately 50 per cent of the new ones and giving big savings to our clients. We have in stock the complete range of bulk ink, toner cartridges and accessories like ink-tanks, chip sets etc. Our USP is to provide quality at a lower cost and every cartridge sold or every refill done comes with a 100 per cent money back guarantee with no questions asked which none other company has been able to sustain with. We have over delivered every time promised to our clients.
PR: When and why did you opt for franchise route for brand’s expansion?
BSP: For the expansion, we decided to take franchise route because it strikes a perfect balance by partnering with our franchise owners and operate through retail oriented stores that serve both consumer and business market with ready to sell inventory and knowledgeable sales staff. We first started off by opening stores in Amritsar, Punjab and following the success we captured the NCR by opening multiple stores in Gurgaon and New Delhi. Nearly 54 per cent of the total consumers prefer to get their cartridges refill than using the new ones and it was not surprising considering India’s insatiable appetite for printing demand. Hence, we took the franchise route in 2008 to expand our operations.
PR: How many franchise outlets do you have? Brief us on the future plans regarding expansion of Cartridge Xpress.
BSP: Currently, we have six profit making stores. We are coming up with our new product line of Managed Print and Document Services and we are currently inculcating the expertise of top notch experts of the industry and this will remain to be our focus for 2013.
PR: What strategies has the brand adopted to deal with the competition in the market?
BSP: Our competition is only with the OEM’s as we only match our quality base with them. We have the survival chance until we are able to explain it to our clients that we match the originals and provide the same quality. It is sad that the other present companies are trying to deal with the competition by sourcing cheap quality raw materials from China whereas our focus is completely towards changing our service model and we hope that we will be able to do that.
PR: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in this business?
BSP: In the coming years, cartridges will be a necessity with over 30 per cent of our population having printers at home. Our sales operation team has done an in depth research on how we plan to expand in the near future. We will be the choice of aspiring franchisees as our brand’s operational cost is much lesser than opening a store on own. Also, we provide unique business tactics and sales knowledge.
PR: What are the qualities that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required from their end?
BSP: We need professionals who understand that quality comes with a price and are able to pass on the same message to the consumers. We are looking for like minded people, moreover, an engineering background or experience in consumer electronics would be an added advantage. The cost varies for differently tiered cities and ranges from a minimum investment of Rs 5-10 lakh. We have different models to offer.
PR: Share with us the challenges that can be faced by your franchisees? How can these be overcome?
BSP: The only challenge is the mindset of people who still think that we are no different with the local refillers who sit by the street and refill. But we have been able to reasonably justify our presence by providing quality and satisfaction through our guarantee model. All our upcoming stores will have a see through to our workshop where the customers can see it happen live. It is just a way to educate them on how we handle their refilling needs with care.