Excerpts from the interview
Q1. Inder ji, please introduce your enterprise
Sindhi®️ Dry Fruits is An ISO 22000:2018 (Food Safety Management System) and ISO 10002:2018 (Customer Satisfaction and Complaint Management System) certified proprietorship entity. Situated in Central Market, Lajpat Nagar, one of the most prominent offline markets in Delhi, the brand is committed to serving its customers with quality dry fruits at affordable prices. It has revolutionised the way celebrations are made while keeping in view the health of its valuable customers. The firm’s efforts are directed towards providing its esteemed customers with natural products of unmatchable quality.
Q2. How did you get the idea of starting your business of dry fruits?
‘The business was started by my father,’ says Inder Kumar Kataria, ‘who just had one vision – “To make India healthy” when everyone was drooling over American culture of eating fast food’.
Q3. When did you start your business? And tell us in detail what all is it about?
Trusted by more than a million customers, we are older than independent India. The history of Sindhi®️ Dry Fruits dates back to the late 1930s. It was then that the founder Shri. Gagan Mal Kataria, my father, began trading in Dry Fruits in Sindh, now in Pakistan. As independent India was carved out, Shri. Gagan Mal Kataria took a path breaking decision – establishing a retail shop – that formed the foundation of our business today. His efforts were dedicated to preparing and cleaning every item possible by himself: from making mouth-watering Tilbhuggas (desi sweets) to frying and roasting cashew nuts. Years passed realising his efforts and it was time for his two sons – myself and my brother Shri Ashok Kumar Kataria – to enter the business. Now, my son, Sanjay Kataria and my brother’s son Naresh Kataria have entered this business.
Q4. What would you term as your USP?
Our USP is serving ‘consistency with quality’. Anyone can source quality product and sell it. But we manage to sell it throughout the year and for years. Our customers trust us with quality and that trust has been built over 3 generations now.
Q5. Sanjay ji, how did e-commerce help you during the COVID slowdown?
For us, ordering on What App still beats any other mode when customers started ordering during the pandemic. They just needed the stuff to be delivered at their homes. When we launched our own website, we received an exceptional response. Generation Y and -Z were more comfortable ordering on the website without any human interaction at any time of the day – 24×7. This reduced our average cost per order for home deliveries and our online orders handling capacity increased from 20 orders per day to 500 orders per day.
Q5. How has your journey as a new online venture been?
I am a self-taught techie. I can sit in front of the screen for 20 hours per day at a stretch. Technology is something that fascinates me. Being amidst the start-up culture, I feel entrepreneurship is a mindset. I can have an entrepreneurial mindset even in my existing family business and that’s what I’m aiming for.
Coming to ‘how this new online venture has been, I would say it’s very encouraging. I cannot just surpass the turnover that we had before I joined my family business in just a few months. But over a period of time, I see a lot of scope in online business and striving hard make a space for my brand.
Q6. Would you recommend selling online to other sellers and why?
If you have a strong offline presence and are confident that even if your products get returned from these channels owing to any reason, you can handle that with ease, then online is for you. It just boosts your presence.
Many people believe that selling online is easy because there are no high rentals vis-à-vis offline stores; you just have to pack, the transportation guys would come and pickup and there’s no follow-up with buyers for payments. Yes, it’s true. But on the flipside, you need to invest heavily into subsidizing your products to gain online presence, participate in sales, invest into advertising, hire professional and skilled staff and be on your toes for returns, claims, accounting and warehouse management besides working on your listings and packaging.
Q7. How opening doors to online customers contributed to you fulfilling your dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and yes, I am happy to be born in the digital generation, which has offered me enough opportunities to satiate the intellectual side of my life. I am a published author with more than 13 books in my name. In June 2022, my book on international relations was pickup up and republished by the Routledge Group (New York and London). Had I not been into this digital space, I would be happy writing.
Q8. Do you see yourself as an integral part of the modern retail format? Why?
For grocery segment, selling on Amazon is the first step towards digitisation. It’s an open platform to list your products and sell in entire country. It’s like when you learn driving, your first car is of Maruti make. Once you do that, you can look for upgradations. Similarly, with the help of my store-front on Amazon, I am able to pitch in to other closed channels as well such as Blink It, Big Basket, Insta Mart and offline supermarkets as well.
Q9. How do you deal with selling perishable items like dry fruits online? Is there a different way of selling your goods online than if they were non-perishable items?
Selling perishable items is a lot different than selling shoes or fashion products or any non-perishable items. We also sell shoes from a different amazon.in seller account. Since shoes don’t have any expiration as such, we rent a 3PL warehouse and let the outsourced guys manage everything.
For perishable products, we have to take special care with quality control. Not a single kernel of the nut should be infested because it will damage the entire pack. Hence, we pack everything on-demand.
Q10. What would be your message to all those who have helped you along the way?
Be patient and relentless to achieve what you would want to do to your brand. Many brands have outgrown us (in terms of visibility) by investing heavily on advertising. We did lack on that part, but I’m relentless to never stop trying and growing my legacy brand to a coveted space of top 10 dry fruits brands in India.
Q11. How has digitisation of your business helped you in acquiring more customers?
More than acquisition, it has helped us retain our customers, which I feel is more important. If we are able to service our existing clients well, we can generate more business than burning money into customer acquisition. Quality dry fruits is like buying genuine medicines and for that you cannot trust who sells it at the lowest without focusing on establishing trust and genuineness of the product. You trust those who can establish trust with you.
Q12. What is your payment method like in your online business and is it easier or difficult due to the online mode?
After demonitisation, we all have moves to digital modes. I am a big fan of digitisation and prefer keeping my credit card in my pocket and some petty cash. Your credit score is a reflection of your consumer behaviour and we support that.
Q13. How has making your business a 24/7 venture? What are the changes you’ve experienced?
Warren Buffett says, ‘If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.’
I’m striving hard to retire when I’m 50 and enjoying every bit of life in the interim. Digitisation will play a key role in this regard. I am very optimistic.