Organic Shop : Market place for organic products

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Established in June 2011, http://organicshop.in is an independent online Organic Store with the widest range of certified organic products in India. In an attempt to instill the organic way of life to the country and to the world at large, Organic shop started with textiles as its strongest and the most innovative offerings in the year. As the business witnessed extraordinary acceptance, Organic shop expanded to different product segments and categories to reach an astounding number of 5500 products in its catalogue in 2013.

Organic Shop is the first organization where RAIN (Rajasthan Angel Investors Network) recognized the potential of the business and pumped in investments of Rs 30 Lakhs ($49,370) and valued Organic Shop a Rs 1 crore company. Organic Shop is ready to now take the business to Europe and Southeast Asia to promote the organic lifestyle through its dedicated website www.onlineorganicmart.eu.

The brand offers a range of organic products, organic clothing, food, cosmetics and wellness products, textile products like yoga mats, towels & comforters, organic spices, green tea, grocery, organic cosmetics, herbal and health products to name a few.

Being the largest private platform to discover all organic products from India, Organic Shop is an endeavor to support the unorganized retail of organic products in the country bringing together the consumers and suppliers on one platform. It is also an effort to bridge the gap between the farmers who produce products in small quantities and lack market exposure for their products and bring their products close to the consumers.

Today, Organic Shop registers an average of 20 orders per day and has about 30-40% repeat customers. Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit chat with Mr. Manuj Terapanthi, Founder and CEO @OrganicShop. Let’s see what he wants to share with us.

Techaloo : When did you start your journey?
The journey for Organic Shop began back in 2010 when Manuj Terapanthi identified an opportunity in the midst of the scattered, but promising organic industry in India. The founder of a travel company called Aathitya Travels, based out of Jaipur; Manuj was extremely passionate about organics. What he found was a clear gap in the organic products industry from both the customer’s side and the manufacturer’s side. What ascended from an idea which was to organize the cluttered and highly unorganized organic products market in India, was Organic Shop in 2011. Organic Shop originated with the opportunity that there is a lot that needs to be done for the growth of organic industry and awareness in India. The manufacturers and suppliers of organic products were not practically able to reach out to the nook and corners of the nation and at the same time the customers were not informed adequately about the benefits and most importantly the imperative urgency to shift their demand from conventional products to organic products. Moreover, the informed and aware customers did not have much options as well to satisfy their demand for organics.

This is where Organic Shop came in to the picture when the company, started by Manuj Terapanthi, Founder and CEO of today’s largest e-tailer of organic products, started with textiles as its first product category.

Techaloo : What made you motivated to join the entrepreneurship community?
os-logo-big-hdDuring our initial interaction with Organic Players, we noticed two things. First, there were a lot of really good organic products, but their reach was limited in terms of geographical availabilities and awareness. Second, it was often difficult to comprehend why and how a product was organic. We observed that the Indian market for organic products was scattered and unorganized with very little awareness. With this notion, we started Organicshop.in, which not only makes it easy for customers/buyers to buy organic products from anywhere in India but also developed standard process in identifying certified organic products.

Another key area was that while there were a lot of players scattered in the nation, they did not offer a complete range of organic products like textiles, food, cosmetics, herbal and health products. Hence, we incepted this online marketplace which would showcase a complete range of more than 6000 products produced in India. In short, Organicshop.in is a one stop online marketplace for all your organic products requirements.

I am passionate about organic products & believe that the world is at a stage where our future generations are not secured, exposed to harmful and questionable ways of producing necessary products like food, clothing, colors, cosmetics amongst others. Throughout the process of studying before we tested waters in the market, we were extremely disappointed to see how food is grown and processed, and even astonished to see how we are affected through these. Since then, we are only trying to promote a healthy living in its truest sense. We, at Organic Shop, also understand that today’s consumer is busy to an extent where he/she can’t practically keep a check on these products of daily requirements to ensure the health of his/her family. We, specifically in India, also face an issue on both the availability and authenticity of organic products. Hence, it is critical to develop an ecosystem where products that are 100% organic are a click away so as to encourage today’s hyper connected consumers to receive healthy products that benefit not only them but the future generations as well. The scattered market for these products, the growing health awareness amongst the urban class, some extremely commendable business concepts of growing and developing organic products are all catalysts in bringing Organic Shop to existence. Our idea is to build awareness not only for the consumers, but also to the aware the other end of the industry to understand there exists a demand for their products.

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Techaloo : Where are you based out of?
Organic Shop is headquartered out of the pink city, Jaipur which is where I grew up all my life and learnt the tricks of the trade.

Techaloo : What was your vision/mission while starting Organic Shop?
The mission of any organization or any start-up, in the simplest language, is to solve a problem or serve a purpose for its target customers. When Organic Shop was formed, our mission was two-pronged. First and foremost was to make the two disconnected ends meet, that is, that the customers with demand should be able to get easy access to genuine organic products. At the same time, the producers, manufacturers and middlemen for the organic products were not able to identify their marketing strategy, their right target audiences and hence, we decided to bridge the gap between these two ends. Second was that only bridging the gap was not enough? We had to also create demand for organic products, both for the benefit of the industry but also to the society and the future generations at large. Hence, we need to actively engage ourselves in the engagement of prospective customers.

Hence, our Vision is to spread awareness of healthy living with organic products throughout the globe and build a trustworthy and sustainable marketplace bringing all the credible players in the industry and the consumers together at one reliable platform.

Techaloo : What hurdles did you face while starting?
For a start-up with extremely limited funds but a clear vision, there are boundless challenges. One challenge that almost every start-up in any industry would face is the challenge to attract talent. Today’s professional seeks a corporate culture at the organization where he/she works, state-of-the-art technology for social motivation. On the other hand, a start-up is much like a college project team working on one single project dedicatedly, day in and day out, and for the rest of the time, think of how the project can become bigger and better for better results. This is one challenge that we face even today. Another challenge that we faced when we started was the funding. It took us two years to find people who would agree to invest in a “yet another e-commerce start-up”. With some of the major e-commerce players starting to feel the heat in the industry, investors have become very skeptical of investing in e-commerce models. Sure, we overcame it but in time.

Lastly, logistics is a huge responsibility when it comes to e-commerce. This is where we also see an opportunity to excel our model so as to ensure we remain flawless in delivering the products in the best of its condition timely and win their trust. E-commerce is one industry which witnesses the largest chunk of its attention spanning to enhancing customer delight yet faces the largest amount of issues in this area. Hence, we knew from the beginning that this is one area where our attention is much required.

Techaloo : According to your website, major thrust areas for Organic Shop are – education, health and environment. How are you moving to achieve it?
The inception of Organic Shop was based on the very foundation of transparency with both the ends of the market (the consumer and the producers). We aim to build a clean and unadulterated market for organic products which itself will solve half the problem prevalent in India as far as the organic products market is concerned. Furthermore, we also believe that in today’s world, where the hyper-connected mobile urban user is there online, we have to move things in terms of education and promotion of health through content. We have our regular blogs, newsletters not on the company and our initiatives but education in general. Very recently, on World Cancer Day, we spoke to some of the leading cancer specialists and prepared a video which talks entirely about cancer awareness. Here is the link that you can refer- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pq_ICSlHEWE. We are in the process of putting together collaborative initiatives further with the similar community so that people off late listen to what the health influencers say as far as the organic products and genetically modified food and other products are concerned. We cannot ignore the consequences that our current and future generations are poised to due to the use of questionable ingredients in essential products like food, health and wellness. We cannot grow the industry, the market and eventually the business until and unless we educate the king of the market first- the customers.

Techaloo : Recently you have got funding from RAIN? What does it mean to your business?
Achieving a funding by RAIN was the first milestone and a breakthrough in the business for Organic Shop. Organic Shop was the first organization where Rajasthan Angel Investors Network (RAIN) invested a total of 30 lacs in the business, thereby authenticating and entrusting that they believed in our business model considering it promising.  For a start-up, more than the money which is equally and immensely essential to keep moving ahead, the amount of trust, motivation and guidance that we got from RAIN investors was enough for us to take a leap in our business growth. This also helped sustain our efforts to keep moving and not straying from our mission.

Techaloo : What are the various categories offered by you?
Organic Shop is a one stop online marketplace for the widest range of more than 6000 organic, natural and herbal products which makes Organic Shop the biggest online retailer of organic products in India. The broad categories that we currently deal in are food, health and wellness, textiles, cosmetics and home products. We are soon going to launch new product lines and segments like organic perfumes based on popular demand.

Organic Food primarily includes organic cereals, masala mixes, snacks, pulses and beans, nuts and dry fruits, tea and coffee, organic spices, edible oils and ghee, organic condiments to name a few.

Talking about health and wellness, organic shop enlists products like herbal supplements, ayurvedic supplements, vitamins, sexual wellness, and health supplements by conditions like arthritis, weight management, heart & blood pressure, etc.

Organic cosmetics, the most recent addition to the catalogue and the fastest product on demand includes baby & kids care products, facial care, hand and body care, hair care, pet care, and personal care.

Home products include products like organic bath towels and robes and beddings.

Textiles include men, women and kids fashion, ethnic and contemporary clothing.

By the end of 2015, we should be able to conveniently double our product categories.

Techaloo : What are the best-selling categories?
Cosmetics and food are the highest recorders of orders, both in numbers and in terms of the revenue followed by textiles.

Techaloo : India is known for its organic past, according to you will we be able to regain the history?
India is known for natural, herbal and ayurvedic ways of living. This tracks back to the inception of mankind where all we had was natural herbs and medicines and India specifically, was one of the pioneers in building a science of studying various herbs and their respective benefits. Till today, India is recognized as an unbeaten country in this science. However, organic way of life is something that urban India is not too conscious about and this is why the industry needs immediate attention towards the same.

Techaloo : Why should one opt for organic products?
After regular headlines about poor diet, obesity and diabetes hitting the press every week, it is very evident that the current lifestyle of the young and the old, coupled with the current state of the other counterpart products that show a very high amount of artificial chemicals instilled in it, organic products are like a breath of fresh air for the health conscious people. The very fact that organic products are chemicals free gives an overall picture of the derived benefits that come in with these products.

Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Hence, not only for the ones who are consuming these products, the products are also good for the environment.

Organic products, if cooked wisely, are much tastier than the conventional products. Organic food is great antioxidant, which helps neutralize free radicals that are thought to contribute to ageing and cancer. Thanks to the spiraling attention being paid to the varieties of organic products, especially in the clothing products range, organic products now are even stylish, along with the other benefits accredited to these.

Techaloo : You are offering a unique category  “Organic Clothing”, how is the response for it as of now?
The first category of offering that Organic Shop launched with was textiles. We have a strong background and network of manufacturers that produce 100% organic cotton clothing which is picking up really fast primarily in Southern region of the country. There is a lack of awareness amongst people on the mechanism of organic clothing, the procedure, the certification and several other concerns. We believe that unless we educate people about organic clothing, there won’t be much improvement in the demand. India has a background of organic food and natural and ayurvedic medicines. But talking of extended categories, we still have a long way to go.

Techaloo : How is the response overall?

Consumer response to the organics

The market for organic products is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20-22 per cent. With rising spending power of the growing middle class in the country and increased awareness towards chemical free food, organic and natural products sector will grow significantly in the coming years. The global organic food and beverages market is expected to grow from USD 57.2 billion in 2010 to USD 104.5 billion by 2015 with a CAGR of 12.8 per cent.

Talking of exports, India exported 135 products last year (2012-13) with the total volume of 165262 MT including 4985 MT organic textiles. The organic agri export realization was around 374 million US $ including 160 US $ organic textiles registering a 4.38% growth over the previous year.

These figures in itself are a validation to the fact that the organic products market is growing at a decent rate keeping the demand for the products in mind. The year on year consumption is increasing at a progressive rate which signifies that consumers are increasingly paying more and more attention towards leading a healthy life with organic products.

Consumer response to Organic Shop

The market took off exceptionally, better than the company had anticipated. Soon after the first year of our existence, the company managed to break-even which took us, frankly, by surprise.

Like I said, educating our target consumer will take time. However, when we first spoke to our network of a concept like Organic Shop, they were amazed of the business model of offering not just the organic products online, but the trustworthiness and assurance of quality to reduce the efforts of people to cross check whether a product is organic or not. They were also amazed that there are certain categories like textiles which they never thought or never understood could be organic. My own brother asked me “How can a shirt be organic?” Customers have written back saying that they are amazed by the work that we are doing in India and have shown support to us which encourages us to take the model at the next level.

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Techaloo : What countries are you getting your users from? Are you planning to move to other parts of the world?
Organic Shop started as a dedicated marketplace for the Indian subcontinent. As we witnessed growth and potential in other parts of the world as well, we were determined since the beginning to expand operations globally. Today, we have spanned out from India to Europe, thereby offering organics for the European Union through our dedicated marketplace for the Europe market www.onlineorganicmart.eu

This was as recent as this January, 2014. We are now heading towards USA to make a similar arrangement and expand further. We are running in a land where we do not so far have any competition even in the vicinity of our operations.

Techaloo : What are your plans for next 3 years?
In another three years, we plan to further unify the extremely scattered organic products market across the globe through dedicated online marketplaces for every country. We plan to keep beefing up our product lines in every category of our offering to further upscale the customer experience. Also, we plan to launch our own brand in the organic products segment. We are determined to reach the top spot in the estimated 10 billion $ global market for organics and we are leaving no stone unturned to go as aggressive as we can.

Techaloo : What do you think about techaloo.com?
A website like Techaloo.com becomes extremely critical for a start-up like ours to keep us informed of other start-ups in the related as well as unrelated space. You are doing exemplarily in the space and we wish you all the best for reaching greater heights from here.

 

Meet Manuj Terapanthi, Founder & CEO, OrganicShop.in 

Manuj Terapanthi spearheads Organic Shop towards achieving the aim of uncomplicated and transparent marketing of organic products worldwide. As the founder and Chief Operating Officer of Organic Shop, Manuj, besides steering the company up the growth ladder since its inception in 2011, brings enormous knowledge and vast expertise to the organization, besides enthusiasm and professional exposure in other sectors.

A serial entrepreneur, Manuj Terapanthi launched his first company 17 years ago called Infopark, which was into computer training.  Since then, Manuj has been developing business models that are not only feasible but also promising. Manuj Terapanthi founded the company, Organic shop in 2011 when he identified that there is a lack of transparent functioning in the organic products business. It is then that Manuj devised an online marketplace that would promise to deliver only certified organic products to the end consumers.

A member of TiE Rajasthan, Manuj’s  20 years of professional career spans across sectors like IT, travels, marketing and investment. Manuj is the President of Jaipur INC which is a USA based organization offering organic products to the global marketplace.

Manuj Terapanthi is an alumni of Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur and is an avid reader and loves to travel to places.

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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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