MSME SuperPower:

We’re changing with the times

Jayati Jain

Owner, Manik Mercantile, Delhi

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Manik Mercantile is a family business, a wholesaler of dry fruits, nuts and seeds, based in Khari Baoli, Delhi. My husband Rishi and I run the company, supplying almonds, black raisins, white and red pistachios, walnuts, figs, cumin seeds, and other treats.

Like many businesses, ours was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone’s attention was focused on essential commodities, and buying nuts and seeds to eat or gift was seen as a luxury. Demand was at an all-time low, and some days went by without a single order.

Times were tough, but I focused on the things we could do to make a difference. When leading a business through a time of crisis, it’s critical to remain aware of the changing business landscape and to alter one’s approach and strategy accordingly and without delay.

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Exploring eCommerce

We joined Walmart Vriddhi, and this helped us make the necessary changes to our approach. Both my husband and I have undergone training with the program, learning more about logistics, operations, inventory management, and more. Understanding eCommerce and gaining practical support to help us venture online was hugely valuable.

“At the start of the pandemic, Manik Mercantile was an offline-only business. As our sales took a hit, we wanted to explore eCommerce, but we didn’t know anything about expanding to digital selling. The Walmart Vriddhi team walked hand-in-hand with us as we opened our own online store and then onboarded to the Flipkart Marketplace.

I really appreciate the flexibility that comes with an eCommerce channel, and our plan is to expand to multiple digital selling platforms to maximise our exposure and recover our sales to pre-Covid levels.

Improving inventory management and pricing

Maintaining inventory for perishable items can be challenging. We previously matched procurement to orders, but the Walmart Vriddhi team helped us see that holding inventory to enable faster delivery would reduce the chance of order cancellation. We currently have more than 65 items in our inventory and dispatch orders within 24 to 48 hours.

Other improvements that benefited our business include offering cash-on-delivery options to buyers, which helps us broaden our network and boost sales. We also altered our pricing from a fixed rate to a market rate.

We’ve also added an affordable range of gift packs to our product portfolio. I’m especially happy that we are working on this with women entrepreneurs who make homemade chocolates and sweets, as well as with women who make natural fragrance agarbattis through the AgarKranti initiative.

Hailing from Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, I have a fair idea of the prices of dry fruits; it’s a bit like the SENSEX market index, where prices keep changing during the day. So, I offered the same pricing to my clients rather than a fixed price. This enhanced our credibility and helped us build trust with buyers.

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