D2C Allows Opportunity to Seek Out New Customer Needs and Discover New Ways of Fulfilling Them
Looks to expand with 30 new retail stores pan-India
Chirag Kenia's Urban Platter was born out of a very simple desire to make high-quality ingredients from around the world and across various cuisines available to Indian consumers at their doorstep at the click of a button. Says the specialty gourmet food and plant-based ingredients D2C brand founder, "When you have such a wide variety of products, it's almost impossible to execute a business offline. The fact that it is a digital first brand, gives us maximum control and scale of the business. The kind of automation and e-commerce distribution we require, is something only being digital can help us with. We have been a very slow, steady and organic growing business with no heavy investments in marketing, but just taking into consideration customer feedback and building on that."
Sharing the evolution of the market from 2015 when they started, and on the size of their total addressable market, Kenia says, "The market has evolved tremendously, with the surge in e-commerce led by the pandemic, forcing us to strengthen our last mile logistics. We are now able to deliver to 100% pin codes within India. There is also a lot more competition now, with many start-ups trying to leverage the e-commerce boom to their advantage and penetration of the internet to the deeper regions of our country has never been better. With more and more people being exposed to international trends, there is always an opportunity to seek out new customer needs and discover new ways of fulfilling them."
On building a D2C brand in India he says, "First, there is the ever-present element of increasing competition. Also, the fact that the current logistical infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired in terms of reliability, especially in the temperature-controlled transport sector. Add to that, the ever-changing consumer trends and above everything, the evolution of the consumers themselves. Today's consumers are much more well-informed and exposed to international trends. With retail F&B being a huge market in size and also with boundless potential for innovation, the wants and needs of the consumers are no longer constant. Before-sales and after-sales services, data security, convenience, unboxing experiences and reliability matters when it comes to deciding a customer's loyalty to a brand."
"Urban Platter's sourcing is top-notch with 300+ vendors. Our dedicated 1,200 sq. ft. repacking facility where our trained staff handles more than 600 products that we repack ensuring stringent quality checks and assuring the freshest products always. Our SC is very robust. From domestic region-specific ingredients to imported products of designated origins, we have a stomach for getting our consumers all they need to cook good food, says Kenia."
On the business's performance in the past two years, "The business over the last two years has grown exponentially, reporting approximately 40%-50% y-o-y growth. This is a testimony of high-quality, e-commerce-first strategy coming to fruition especially during a very sensitive period of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Sharing an important news on strategic fund-raising Kenia says, "Very recently we raised a round of strategic investment from a vision-aligned investor. The investment has helped us take the right and bold steps to invest heavily in supply chain, inventory management, expanding our team, having better marketing budgets and strategy and most importantly, we have significantly deployed a chunk of our investments to open Urban Platter retail stores over the next 12 months which will help us be a part of every household across the country."
"In 2022, we opened our very first retail experience store in Bandra, Mumbai. Since its opening, we have noticed a gradual increase in foot traffic. As we return to normalcy, we have realised the significance of the traditional shopping experience. Being able to touch, taste, feel, smell and see the products up close provides a far superior and tactile experience. It is a gap that e-commerce is yet to fully figure out. A point proved by the success of our first retail experience store, says Kenia about their new store."
On their expansion plans, he says, "One of our goals is to expand to 30 new retail stores across the country, allowing our valuable customers to interact with our brand and products face-to-face. Moreover, they will also help us create curated experiences better targeted at the locales they are situated in, while also strengthening our own logistical network and the brand as whole."
● Best seller: Pink Himalayan Rock Salt
● Total SKUs: 1,200
● Team size: 180
● Repeat customer ratio: 40%-45%
● Online platform resulting in maximum revenue: Amazon India
● Turnover for FY 2021-22: Confidential
Split between offline and online sales: 80% (Online) 20 % (Offline)