I had big dreams when I left my hometown of Alwar, Rajasthan, in 2005. But after eight years working in IT, I found that my career wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I was seeking when I first came to Panipat for work. So I found an even bigger dream: I would start my own business.
My venture, Shri Balaji Online Store, manufactures sofa covers, chenille sofa fabrics and tissue curtains. I initially identified a huge demand for elegant and versatile string curtains in the local market. This created an opportunity to manufacture these string curtains, along with our other products, using locally sourced raw materials. Originally, I was a brick-and-mortar player.
In a bid to expand nationwide, I went online in 2017, making my debut on the Flipkart eCommerce marketplace. At first, I saw it as just another revenue stream, but as I began to reach more customers, I came to see online retail as a strong pillar of sales.
I started out as a manufacturer and wholesaler, and yet I was soon able to embrace direct selling through eCommerce. This helps me in a number of ways.
Hearing the experience of end-users firsthand helps me improve my products through innovation and further development. For instance, we are currently in the process of making design changes to some of our curtain products and adding more variety to our portfolio.
I have also found that the online market gives brands like ours greater visibility. People can more easily pinpoint the products they like from the brands they like, and this drives their purchase decisions.
Finally, being online increases our business resilience. During the pandemic, I was able to keep my business afloat only because we were online. In fact, we didn’t just survive; we flourished. Shri Balaji Online Store experienced a 100-fold spike in sales in December 2020.
Our monthly online sales continue to grow steadily, confirming the sheer market power of eCommerce and opening my eyes to the many opportunities that online retail presents. I can confidently say that my experience on Flipkart has motivated me to grow my business via online channels.
Adopting an insights-based growth strategy, my goal is to now grow online sales to 50% of total sales, up from 10% in 2021. With Walmart Vriddhi’s help, I am confident I can. I find the learning experience on Walmart Vriddhi comparable to that of a business program: we are taught the A-Z of doing business, including nuance and know-how we wouldn’t get anywhere else.
I am still only in my first decade of business, but I aim to go global by leveraging the Walmart Vriddhi program to tap into export markets.
Walmart’s recent commitment to triple its exports of goods from India to $10 billion annually by 2027 should give MSMEs like me confidence that we have a chance to fulfil our export ambitions.