An inspiring story of a woman.
Chitra Vyas, a seller with Flipkart, is a techie-turned-entrepreneur. After completing her MTech in Electronics, she served with Infosys for a while before starting up on her own. Hailing from Bikaner, she moved to Hyderabad after her marriage.
Her husband hails from a family of entrepreneurs and Chitra felt the desire to start her venture. In 2011, when e-commerce was starting in India, she decided to sell jewellery, handicrafts, and a few electronics items, as her family owned an electronic store, through her e-commerce website, ShoppingWhopping.
Although the business was not picking up as she had predicted. Once she shifted to a Flipkart seller in 2016, from 10-15 orders a day, sales jumped to around 100 orders a day within a week, and with support from Flipkart, Chitra adorned one of the highest-performing sellers on Flipkart in just three months. Since then, there has been no looking back.
“Later, on the advice of a friend, I decided to try my hand at selling footwear, and onboarded popular brands like Rolex, Khadim, Lotto, Bata, Sparks, and Liberty, and started getting around 1,500 orders a day,” she says.
When COVID-19 hit India in 2020 and the country went into lockdown, Chitra precisely apprehended that sales in the fashion and footwear section would be below.
She promptly chose to swivel to sales of dry fruits that would fall under the “essentials” category. Thus Soft Art, her brand of dry fruits, came into being.
Impelling Ahead to Flipkart
Things did not go great in the commencement. “While we were happy, we had another category to cash in on, we got only around 20-30 orders in a day. But with the help of Flipkart, which eternally supported us with training, customer reviews, and feedback whenever we started a new category, sales started picking up,” says Chitra.
Since its beginning last year, Chitra says Soft Art has grown by 5X and is now an established dry fruits brand. She also clocked over 1,000 orders during Big Billion Days.
“Originally, we sourced the products from local distributors, but when orders began pouring in, we began sourcing different products from all over India, places well-known for their production and included wholesalers from Mumbai and Delhi,” she adds.
The dry fruits are distributed at their warehouse and repacked in vacuum packs to preserve freshness before they are ready for shipment. Chitra performs with a team of 25 out of a three-storey building embracing 7,000 sq ft in Hyderabad.
“The season begins in July, and hopefully there will be an increase in the number of orders in all categories. We have focused on 5x growth with a revenue of Rs 10 crore in the coming year,” Chitra says. She declined to discuss moving expenses or net profit.
Aside from the hurdles postured by the lockdown, Chitra says a lot of hard work and dedication goes into establishing and authorising one’s brand, in her case, Soft Art.
“The footwear brands were already well-established. But getting people to trust an online dry fruit brand was a challenge. We had to offer merchandise of top-notch quality that was also affordable.
Based on client feedback and demands, we have been able to meet these standards,” she says.
Her plans involve extending to other food categories, notably the wide variety available from her hometown, Bikaner.
“I am looking forward to visiting Bikaner and sourcing the best food items available there,” she says.