Salebhai.com: A Blessing for the Diaspora in India & Abroad
A variety of push and pull factors make people leave their homeland. According to Census 2011, two out of every five Indians are migrants. And with migration comes a hollowness in the lives of uprooted people, who are left with no choice but to lead a life bereft of their traditions, customs, cultural practices, and many other things close to their hearts.
Vishwa Vijay Singh, a sales and marketing veteran, identified this market gap caused by migration within India and abroad. After a thorough research, he learnt that most people move to fast-growing cities such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune for employment opportunities, education, or marriage. This motivated him to build a unique enterprise, SaleBhai.com, which is a true e-commerce marketplace that enables people living away from home to order a range of specialties directly from their hometowns. The website is a one-stop solution for discovering authentic regional and unique products from across India. Besides offering traditional household goods such as handicrafts, paintings, puja items, handloom goods, and herbal and wellness items, people get to choose from a wide variety of delicious consumable items such as sweets, snacks, chocolates, bakery, spices, dry fruits, beverages, and pickles.
Established in September 2015, the company is driven by a back-to-roots philosophy and focuses on the requirements of over 17 diaspora communities living in big Indian cities and abroad. With over 8,500 products sourced from over 100 cities and 300 cherry-picked vendors, the start-up provides people with an opportunity to buy products in various categories from sellers across India as well as discover new items from different communities and cultures.
The company aims to provide anything and everything that a migrant misses from his hometown. Customers of SaleBhai get an opportunity to buy hometown specialties in various categories throughout the year. Packages have been created to address genuine needs. E.g. the website offers various puja packs for Laxmi puja, Ganesh puja, Durga puja, and so on to help the diaspora fulfil their religious and spiritual needs. The products are sold at the same prices displayed at the retail shops and have detailed descriptions which include uses, benefits, facts, regional connect, history, and popularity, etc. Many food items come with serving ideas from chefs. The platform also lists complete information about vendors such as their history, lineage, and reputation. The company has a strong team which promises to deliver high return on investment (ROI) and consists of professionals with proven expertise in IT, marketing, content development, innovation, disruptive thinking, channel management, logistics, and customer support. Besides customer-friendly policies, the company pays due attention in promoting its sellers. It displays a detailed description with every product that is matchless in helping customers make informed decisions; it spends around 1000 words in describing a product and another 500 words on the seller.
As Singh puts it: "SaleBhai ensures that even if you are away from home, you need not be away from hometown specialties." The company takes care of diversified demands of its customers living far away from their homeland. Its rich portfolio encompasses unique offerings that include seasonal fruits and products, festival-specific items such as rakhi during Rakshabandhan, jalebi-fafda during Dussehra, and modaks during Ganesh Chaturthi. It has also tied up with ISKCON to deliver Prasad blessed by the Lord at midnight on Janmashthami. Besides, it directly sources Mahashivratri Prasad offered at Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi for Shiva devotees.
A glimpse of Salebhai's financial health makes it evident that the company is striding fast on the path of success. In a very short span of time, it has obtained gross merchandise volume (GMV) of INR 2 crore. With its remarkable efforts, this e-commerce marketplace has built a rich customer base. In a chat with The CEO Magazine, Singh, Co-founder, SaleBhai.com, reflects upon the company's strategies for building a strong customer base, "Building a successful customer base involves reaching out to them with brand awareness campaigns and then earning their faith by living up to the promises of providing unique hometown specialities with speedy delivery. We ensure repeat buying by driving home to them that Salebhai is always there to take them back to their roots as well as help them discover something unique and untried, every time. Our excellent offerings and services have resulted in 22% repeat purchase. We have a customer base of around 37,000 and add some 5,000 new customers every month."
SaleBhai's unique aspiration of addressing migrant communities as a category and fulfilling their desire of staying connected to their roots has gained a massive recognition in the Indian corporate landscape for its exclusivity. SaleBhai has been recognized as one of the 'Top 100 Startups in India to Watch in 2017' by Sutra HR while Tech In Asia acknowledged the company as one of the '5 Rising Startups in India' in 2016. Its news and updates have been covered in over 250 news articles, both online and print, in the past year. Renowned publications such as the Economic Times, Business Standard, Times of India, Business World, Live Mint, ANI, and Entrepreneur have featured profiles, interviews, and industry news on the website.
The Spirit behind the Success
Vishwa Vijay Singh, Co-founder, Salebhai.com
Vishwa Vijay Singh possesses extensive experience, having worked with giants such as Airtel, Nerolac and ICICI Lombard. Prior to stepping into the journey of entrepreneurship, he served as national sales manager with ICICI Lombard. He was also part of the retail team at ICICI Lombard (as vice president – motor business) that grew from $10m to $400m in six years. At SaleBhai, his chief responsibilities are handling the overall functioning of the company with direct involvement in marketing, logistics, and product categories.