The Classroom at Stall No. 42, IASOWA Carnival New Delhi
Being an online start-up, we focus our go-to-market efforts purely on the digital space. We actively engage in range of activities to promote our brand zarood.com. Our efforts can be primarily categorized under the following heads
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - where when someone searches for a fashion jewellery, our name should come up in the 1st page of results), Social Media Marketing,
Social Media Marketing: Being active on social media to get user attention.
PPC : Pay per Click – when someone clicks on one’s advertisement on Facebook or Google, you get a visitor to come to your website.
Branding at various places and venues.
While the above activities are very important for generating leads and business, it is not possible to entirely be dependent on them for getting visitors to come to ones website. The counter argument is that the more you spend on these activities, the higher is the visibility amongst the potential cyber customers and thus a higher chance of getting orders.
Given the status of the e-commerce business, it is no secret that only those companies who have deep pockets thru’ investor funding are the ones who can sustain continuous marketing efforts on the internet. It is quite interesting to read financial results where the total losses are almost 1.5 times the revenues.
This puts lots of pressures on young bootstrapped start-up like www.zarood.com where we need to optimise the utilization of every penny.
I was in this dilemma when I happened to make a presentation at the monthly meeting of Association of Entrepreneurs (www.aoe-india.com) and sought suggestion from fellow AoE-eans for some newer strategies to Go-to-market.
The common consensus was to experiment with the physical retail presence to verify consumer interest and response. This set off a ripple of activities with AoE-eans scrounging their connections for any possibility to help us.
This was around the middle of November.
Within a week, I got a message from one of the AoE General Secretary (Mr. Shishir Chaturvedi) about an upcoming carnival being organized by the “IAS Officers’ Wives Association” in New Delhi on 13th Dec.(Sunday).
After a quick deliberation, I decided to take up a stall and see the experience. The formalities of form and the other technicalities were dealt with quickly and by the time I got down to start planning for the exhibition, it was the 2nd / 3rd of December 2015.
The first task was the list out the things required for setting up the stall, products to display that we could also sell and some element of “ZAROOD” branding.
We selected a range of our products including Ladies Clutch bags, Fashion Jewellery, Trays with handmade paintings, products from our cause craft partners – MUSKAAN and DHAANI. We also developed some branding related posters and standees.
The next task was to ensure that all products were packed properly and displayed a clear easy to read price tag. This was by no means an easy task. It took our team about a week to select and check all products. This Curation process was an eye-opener. We realized we needed to get a few more products developed by our artisan partners and the time was short.
Our partners worked against time to develop some brand new styles and design which we were able to display at our stall.
Being trained to think to the last level, I left no stone unturned, which even included visiting the venue a day earlier (12th Dec.) in the evening to check out the stall location and closeness to the entrance. The weather was quite windy and chilly and this was a cause of concern as Delhi-wallahs are notorious on not venturing out of home on Sunday if the weather gods are not favourable.
None-the-less, we packed up all the stuff in my car that day in the evening and hoped that next day will be a bit better.
Waking up on 13th December, I remember the first thing I did was to open up the bedroom curtains to check out the weather. To be pleasant surprise, it was bright and sunny. The Sun God was smiling on us and blessing us.
We left home early and reached the venue around 8:45 am and had about an hour and a half before the carnival was to start.
I was accompanied by colleagues (office, friends and family) who were equally charged on seeing a bright and sunny day and the open landscaped Amphitheatre where the carnival was being held. We spent the next hour and a half in setting up our stall and were ready for the inauguration by 10:30 am.
I forgot to mention that our next door neighbours were also offering similar jewellery as us and this was a sort of a damper. However, we kept our chins up and our spirits high with the conviction that we had a better range and variety of products to offer.
When I sat down in front of the stall, many questions crossed my mind.
“What will happen today?”
“Are our products priced right?”
“Is the Zarood branding correct?”
“Will someone ask for Muskaan or Dhaani (our partner NGOs) Product?”
With these few question in mind I waited for our first walk in.
The wait was not long.
Around 11 am an elegantly attired lady in her early to mid 30’s walked in a showed interest in the range of clutch bags. She asked questions about the material, the type of embroidery (Zardozi), whether her mobile will fit in, with the colour of threads stay. I must admit that we passed with flying colors and we got our first sale.
It was no looking back then.
Soon we had a steady flow of customers, and we all got busy. Customers showing interest in almost our entire range of products, our confidence started to build.
The whole day was amazing in more than one way. While we made sales and covered our expenses, what was more rewarding was the experience from this first retail show.
For instance, we learnt that everyone who asks questions needn’t always buy.
We had more than one instance when a customer, spent lot of time checking out a thing and then walking away without making a purchase. We were quickly able to gauge a customer’s possible requirements, and responded in line with their expectations.
The other learning was that we need to be very careful while handing money.
We were cheated by an elderly gentleman who spent about 15 minutes at our stall in trying to understand the story of the artisans who create our products. Finally when he left after making a token purchase and paid us in a large currency note, we found that the note was cut at more than 1 place and not tenable. We should have been more cautious then.
We were over whelming supported by many close friends with their families, their daughters leading from the front when it came to choosing and buying products. A big “Thank You” for your encouragement and support.
When we finally wound up our stall around 8:30 pm in the night, we were in a happy mood. We had made some good associations with patrons who valued style and substance and appreciated our efforts to support art and artisans. It indeed was a ramification of sorts of my belief that people will appreciate if you do something good and with a clear intention.
December the 13th, 2015 was my retail classroom day and I am now more convinced about my intentions to actively participate in more such events to increase the awareness of ZAROOD and the work we do.
Till the next class day,
- December 17, 2015
- Siddhant Garg