Craving for some Ratnagiri Alphanso mangoes sitting at your office in Chennai or some handpicked berries? For many, who have moved from one city to another, a three-year-old e-commerce start-up is helping relive the memories by bringing their favourite things from their favourite city. With defined migrant population as its target customers, SaleBhai, an e-commerce platform, has over 1 lakh loyal customers. As they continue to grow and target 2 lakh customers this year, SaleBhai co-founder Vishwavijay Singh speaks to Indian Retailer.
What was the idea behind SaleBhai? Share your journey so far with us.
Four years ago, when we were preparing to launch our e-commerce platform, we learned that two out of every five Indians are migrants, which makes for a whopping 40% diaspora population.Also, around the same time, the e-commerce boom was picking up in India and it was emerging as a powerful platform with a lot of potentials. However, only three key categories like mobile, apparel and electronics which had higher value targets were popular. On noticing this, we felt technology should be used to connect people with what they need and there was certainly a huge gap in the market. Eventually, we worked out to be a discovery platform and focused on the migrant community. Driven by back-to-roots philosophy, SaleBhai focuses on requirements of over 17 diaspora communities living in big Indian cities as well as those who live abroad. With 8,500 products sourced from over 100 cities and 400 select vendors, we provide people with an opportunity to buy products in various categories from sellers across India.
Giants like Flipkart and Amazonalready exist in the market catering in similar categories. How tough is the competition?
Honestly, we do not face any kind of competition from Amazon or Flipkart. Both of these tech giants have been in the marketplace but had significant role to play when we started off. Also, what distinguishes us from them is we put a lot of efforts to educate our customers about the products and the sellers and we do not sell in the catalogue model. Our range of products is very exclusive and we have faced little difficulties.
The food segment particularly is overcrowded. What is your USP?
We are probably the first e-commerce platform to have a defined customer base and defined market with migrant community being our main customers. But many other companies do not have any defined category or philosophy as such, which is also why we cut across others who sell the same products. Also, we collect data from our loyal customers like where are they from and where they live, which gives us a better understanding of what products should be added and what could sell. Our uniqueness- the product has to be extremely popular or has to be very unique- is our biggest USP.
Trust deficit is a major challenge to e-commerce marketplace. What are your brand building strategies?
With e-commerce anybody can be a seller and anybody could become a vendor. However, our Business Development Managers in each region identify the most popular brand or product from that region , identify the seller and then shortlist our products. We do not sell any other regular product. While others sell commodity, we sell a genuine product.
Success of which unusual category has surprised you and why?
Dry fruits contribute to about 15 per cent of our sales volume and we have been receiving some overwhelming responses from our customers. Most of our dry fruits are shipped from specific regions like Kashmir, Goa, Karnataka and other regions. Our price point strategy could be one of the main reasons for the success of this category.
What are your marketing strategies?
We have been aggressively working towards engaging our customers at one level or the other and social media promotions have been useful in engaging customers at a whole new level. We do not want to sell our business just as any other transaction and want to be connected with our customers. Hence, our strategies revolve around this.
What are your expansion plans?
We will soon be adding apparel line and popular traders from Kolkata, Gujarat and other states will be roped in. Also, we are targeting to increase our customer base to two lakh customers from the present one lakh. This year our focus will remain on migrant community in key industrial towns.