"Aiming for 1 lakh customers, 1000 orders per day"
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When you are running an inventory model that involves delivery of perishable items, it is accuracy that can save the day for you, says Sneha Chopraa of Exotic Flavors of India.

Retailer magazine caught up with Sneha Chopraa, CEO and co-founder, Exotic Flavors of India dot com, and discussed how predictive analysis becomes one of the most important aspects of their business. Some excerpts:

Did you always want to become an entrepreneur?
During ten years of my professional life, I have experienced both worlds - corporate and entrepreneurial. I am an entrepreneur at heart and the only way I could survive in the corporate world is by working as an intra-preneur where I was given complete ownership of the SBU and had to deliver results to the management.

During my last corporate stint with Vistaas Digital Media, I was given complete charge of devotional content and I ran the operation as my own business. I was instrumental in setting-up and running company’s VAS businesses through strategic tie-ups and alliances with digital and telecom operators - Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Airtel with complete authority on products, pricing, SLAs and so on. Within two years, I built this business from scratch to become India's no 1 devotional content provider across digital and mobile platforms.

My entrepreneurial venture, Bonding Moment Creators Pvt Ltd is a corporate gifting company where we cracked 50 of India’s top 500 corporates within first year of launch.

How was the idea of Exotic Flavors of India conceptualized? Did you think there was a gap that needed bridging?
I used to observe at the airports that many people would carry popular sweets of that city while travelling out. I used to think that there is a huge latent need waiting to be fulfilled.  Sometime in the winter of 2012, I was delighted when Manu (co-founder of EFI) visited Amritsar and brought a box of pinnis from there for me.

A few months later, when I visited Allahabad around Holi, I brought a box of gujiya for him. This set us thinking about a business plan to make it easy for people to buy food products they crave for, from different parts of India. The need we address is the desire and craving to taste and consume their favourite foods from different parts of India.

What is your business model and business size?
We offer a curated product range of regional delicacies from the most iconic brands from across India. To ensure customer delight, we work on an inventory model thereby having total control on packaging and delivery. Currently, we service about 50 orders on a daily basis.

How have you detailed your consumer?
Most Indians are food lovers and that makes our customer segment very broadbased. Our focus is on SEC-A consumers in top 100 cities of India. Almost 1 out of every 2 buyers on our site is a woman. Our initial target customer is in 25+ age bracket but some time later we would like to create more excitement amongst the youth for traditional Indian food.

What is your team size? What is your office culture like?
Exotic Flavors of India has offices in Mumbai, Gurgaon and Ahmedabad for execution of its online business and is presently operating with a team of 25 people with a combined experience of over 80 years in eCommerce. The company has experienced 50 per cent month-on-month growth in business volumes since its inception six months ago.

What has been your A-ha Moment in the business? (The high point)
The repeat order rate we see is unheard of in eComm segment. We see almost 40 per cent of our customers coming back for a second purchase within 3 months of their first transaction with us. This is the proof of the pudding we are serving and gives us confidence to grow our business.

Isn’t managing inventory of perishable goods challenging?
That’s a big challenge! We manage it through very smart analytics to predict our weekly sales. Our forecast is now 90 per cent accurate and we plan to take it upto 97-98 per cent accuracy soon.

What are your future scale-up plans?
In the first phase, we are planning retail outlets at airports and some premium malls in metros. Exotic Flavors of India aspires to be the icon of innovation in eCommerce space in India and is targeting to touch 200 iconic brands and 1000 regional delicacies by end of this year. We aim to build a loyal base of 1 lakh customers and execute 1000 orders per day in the coming months.

As the Modi government completes two years in office, how has eComm propelled under the initiatives taken by his government?
E-commerce is witnessing huge surge in demand from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, bulk of on-line transaction already arise from these cities. Modi Government’s “Digital India” initiative will expand the reach of the eCommerce market to the remote corners of the country as internet and broadband connectivity reaches to India’s tier 4 towns. Govt. is also revamping India Post and is aiming to provide last-mile connectivity across its over 1.5 lakh branches, of which more than 139,000 are in rural India. This will significantly improve distribution channel for e-commerce related services as delivery and COD option will be available in more remote and rural areas, thus expanding the reach and potential market for e-commerce players. Sellers of Regional delicacies and foods from small towns of India can use eComm platform to distribute their products pan-India, thereby boosting the rural economy.

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