An Excerpt from the Interview
• What made you start your venture?
The concept for LocalBanya arose from our personal experience with shopping for groceries traditionally. As a young professional we simply did not have the time or energy to shop for groceries and often thought it would be great if we could do this task online.
It eventually progressed from being a thought to the three of us (Amit Naik and Karan Mehrohtra) sitting down and getting a business plan together for LocalBanya and beginning to execute it. The initial response we got from friends and family was positive and we decided to give LocalBanya a shot.
• What has been the key to your business’s success?
For any start-up to gain traction there are various things that need to fall into place. I would like to start with people. The core group of team LocalBanya has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. We have people that excel at what they do and complement each other very well. We have invested in tech and operations heavily to ensure the core components of our business are solid and innovative.
We were the first online grocer to offer 6 delivery time slots as well as deliveries upto midnight for example. These innovations were a direct result of various core teams working together to offer our customers the most convenience for their shopping needs. In addition, the funding we received from BCCL Springboard Ventures and Karmvir Avant Group has enabled us to expand and take brand LocalBanya to a large amount of people.
• What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
We identified key components of our model that form the foundation on which our growth and success is closely tied to. We needed to start off by building an easy to use, functional website. Given our wide selection of over 14,000 products customers need to be able to purchase what they want quickly and with minimal hassle.
We feel that we have managed to get this part right and the comments we get from our customers only serve to strengthen this observation. Secondly, inventory management is a vital aspect to ensure smooth operations.
Customers rightly expect to receive all items in their order and in the selected time slot of their choice. To provide for this, our supply chain has to be managed efficiently and intelligently. We decided to go in for a lean model of having a setup mix of warehouse and JIT (Just In Time). Our forecasting processes and technology helps us in determining the amount of product needed at any given point of time and vendor management ensures JIT products are procured in time.
As a result, our fill rate is at around 98%. The last major hurdle has been logistics. The final step in the LocalBanya experience is getting orders out to our customers. We have managed to build advanced in-house applications that chart delivery requirements, focussed on region mapping and kept delivery infrastructure under our control. These factors along with well trained delivery executives have ensured that our customers stay happy and continue to shop with us.
• Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
We have had help and guidance all along this journey. From the very beginning, we reached out to our network of friends and family that had relevant business experience to nurture our vision and setup.
The team at Springboard Ventures has been a constant help to us as we now look to scale up significantly and take LocalBanya to other metros. Recently, we appointed Amit Bhartiya as our mentor and advisor. Amit has vast digital experience having been MD of Komli Mobile and his previous stints with Baazee and eBay have contributed to him having a great grasp of what it takes for a start – up to grow into a great organization and winning brand.
• Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Being a startup, we have had to build many of our requirements from the ground up. On the operations side we have developed our own inventory management system as well as a logistics planner.
We are thus able to keep track of product as well as deliveries in real time that boost overall operational efficiency. Our delivery executives are equipped with mobile technology that keeps them in touch with operations and customer service en route to sort out issues in a timely fashion.
• What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
We started our print media campaign in July 2013 and have seen great results in terms of both customer acquisition and sales. People have responded very well to our brand image and communication. We will continue to use print as a platform to reach out to potential customers and as a messaging medium to existing customers. In addition, we are very active on Social Media which helps in growing our brand digitally.
With respect to customer satisfaction, we have highly trained executives that handle all customer related inquires and issues. We offer a hassle free return policy in case customers are not satisfied with their experience. In addition, our very own Banya Points program rewards customers with each purchase they make which then can be redeemed against future orders.
• What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Patience Willingness to adapt People Management Skills Visit their Website: http://www.localbanya.com/ Like them on Facebook: LocalBanya