Seeing the dire need to integrate unorganised organic market, Jaipur-based start-up organicshop.in has come up with an innovative business idea to scale online and offline markets together.
Organicshop.in is a dedicated marketplace that helps big and small manufacturers of organic, natural and bio products to reach out to the ever increasing online consumers who are health conscious and aware of the outcomes of untreated food products.
Conceptualised by Manuj Terapanthi, the seed of Organic Shop was sown in the backyard his with only one member team to back him. From there, the branches of this exclusive organic marketplace have spread in not just in India, but in UK and USA as well.
Significantly, Organicshop.in rose seed funding from Rajasthan Angel Investors Network (RAIN) in 2013 for Rs.30 Lakh and stimulated with a mission to create a global platform of organic market forces. The company has signed its first overseas deal in Europe.
Currently, Organicshop.in has the largest catalogue of organic products in the market with sourcing high quality products from all over India, UK and USA.
In an exclusive conversation with WI Bureau, Manuj Terapanthi, Founder & CEO of Organicshop.in shared much more about the business model, strategy, vision and future plans with his venture.
What change do you see in personal care products market with the entry of organic products?
With reference to the global personal care industry, Organics is the fastest growing segment. Thanks to the growing awareness and most importantly, action-driven awareness about hazardous chemicals in the regular products, the organic personal care segment (OPCS) is growing at a much fast pace. Internet penetration has a lot to do with it, especially in India. While people are aware of organics, they get to read a lot about what’s happening across the world to spread awareness about organics. Health diseases linked to chemicals present in synthetic personal care products like parabens, petroleum-based chemicals, phthalates and aluminum salts among others, are reached as information to a larger set of audiences via internet. At the same time, the net disposable income of the consumers is increasing in India at a much steady rate. Innovation in the organic personal care products have been great news globally. There are companies in the personal care space who have started to spend a lot of their intelligence in developing products ethically, but at the same time, sustainably, to deal with issues pertaining to brief shelf-life of the organic products, green extraction processes, etc. The market has also expanded with the demographics changing to incorporate 45+ age group consumers, considerably to contribute into the anti-ageing market within the OPCS.
How your format is different from the existing online organic product’s ventures?
Organicshop.in is a pure marketplace model. We are not the brand owners, but are the brand custodians and their online counterparts. Wellness products are very personal in nature for consumers. We have created a trend in a much steady yet encouraging growth for shoppers at Organicshop.in since 2010 till 2015 on a year-on-year basis. We started this marketplace with a mission to build a network of organic players in India, who basically offers a wide variety of products to the end consumer, resolving their fundamental problem of unavailability in the Indian market. Taking a step forward, we tried to create a marketplace for brands that are doing splendidly business in their local area but are unfortunate to serve end consumers directly. Thus, we took a plunge of becoming their online marketing partners and the results are pleasingly encouraging.
How are you planning to take this format to the other markets?
In India, the marketplace model has been pretty successful. We are soon launching another model to rope in the offline organic stores to integrate our offline and online business models seamlessly. This model shall be up and running by the end of this year 2015. Evolving integrated e-commerce business models are materializing in a prolific manner in the e-commerce space in India and hence, innovation in offering superlative customer experience is the key to developing similar businesses.
Organicshop.in today has become the ultimate destination to buy organic personal care and wellness products in India. We have a vast range of more than 10,000 SKUs with more than 100 national and international brands. This is a major breakthrough in breaking the misconception of the end consumer that forces them to think that there are very limited options in the organic personal care segment. Another problem that we have solved is the standardization of the products. We thoroughly do the screening process of each product and its respective brands so as to not offer substandard products to the end consumer so that the ultimate aim of offering superior products to the consumer is not lost in the entire process.
Hence, our positioning in the market is based on 3 major USPs; Trust, Availability and Widest range. This has positioned Organicshop.in as the leader in the Indian organic ecommerce industry. Our repeat customers account 35 per cent of the overall customers which is a very encouraging sign.
What are your growth plans and investments you are looking to make in your current business?
Since 2013, we have grown at an encouraging rate of 400 per cent at year-on-year basis. This is an incredible growth journey. We have always been driven to encourage people through real time interactions. Though, a long journey to cover ahead, still, we had been able to develop a strong network of consumers as our ambassadors who take pride in switching to organics and we are extremely passionate to grow our network further. In the year of its inception, we’ve raised our first round of funds and since then, we have been expanding our operations and team. Since ours was a start-up, we required this expansion. Through this, we have been able to foray in the European market in January 2014 with a similar business model with onlineorganicmart.eu.
We plan to aggressively expand our presence in US, UK, Canada, France and Germany, and want to form a global network of organic suppliers and consumers. For this, we are seeking second round of funding currently.
Is it a boot strapped company or you raised funds?
In 2013, Organicshop.in has raised seed funding worth Rs.30 lakh from Rajasthan Angel Investors Network (RAIN), which further reinforced our mission to create a global network and platform of organic market forces. At present, we are extremely optimistic about the organic industry and with our growth so far. The real sense of assurance has come from consumers while we almost have one new organic brand joining hands with us daily. Through this round of funding, we are looking for major expansions in offline-online integration, aggressive marketing and in the global arena. We are aiming to capture 60 per cent market share out of the overall online organic retail market in India.
Do you have plans to franchise your business? What’s the royalty fee for the same?
We love organics and are really passionate about it. Thereby, we are promoting entrepreneurships in this space by assisting people to source the right organic products. However, we do not intend to further venture into offline business - either directly through COCO stores or indirectly through franchise stores. This would, I believe, diversify our focus, way too much, which I do not want at this advanced stage of our successful online business plan.
How did you define your consumers? What is the average ticket size of your consumers?
Our consumers are spread across all over the globe. Our consumers are educated, aware, health-conscious and internet-savvy lot. Not just this, our consumers are sitting in deeper growth pockets of the nation. We have been receiving orders from those cities, about which even our customer support team has never heard before. The primary reason for this, I believe, is the internet penetration. Our average ticket size is Rs.1, 500.
In which area do you face challenges; HR, finance, PR or marketing? What procedures do you take to overcome these challenges?
Being a start-up and in based out of a non-metro city, the primary challenge lies in finding the right team. Team is, I believe, the most common and the most impactful challenge for any company, be it a start-up or a well-established firm. The key is not to rush into hiring, but carefully scrutinize the candidates and thereby not making hasty decisions of both; hiring and firing. Also, there has to be a core team- small handful of people who are the true believers of what you are doing. Finding a desired team is the most crucial and difficult task for any entrepreneur. Apart from team, the second challenge for any start-up would be investment. Once you break through the first round of funding, then it becomes a bit easy for you to target the next round. It’s only after the third funding, that companies are less worried about investments.
How you bring standardization in your business in terms of:
Brands and products: We have a strong team of people who scrutinize every brand and their certification. We have certification agencies as our knowledge partners, which gives us immense support and knowledge to identify authentic organic products.
Tech & software installation: We are primarily a technology company and I am fortunate to have the same background in eCommerce start-up space. Hence, the knowledge bank is something that I can rely on when it comes to this sphere of operations.
Which are the new markets you are eyeing? What kind of business opportunities did you witness in these places?
We are already very much there in every part of India. With our local/city-based websites, we have been able to reach out to people in Jaipur, Delhi and very soon in Bengaluru as well. This will keep continue happening aggressively in future also. Outside India, the primary markets, as mentioned above, are UK, USA, France, Germany and Canada. All of these markets combined together, make upto the 90 per cent of the organic markets across the globe. Hence, these are the focus areas for us.