LET THE BUDGET DO THE TALKING!

Budget 2017: Promotes Growth, Builds Digital India

The Union Budget 2017-18 has set the right direction as our country takes a challenging global economic environment head-on.

The emphasis is squarely on growth with a slew of initiatives including higher allocation to infrastructure, increased emphasis on affordable housing and higher disposal income in the hands of India’s middle class. The suite of measures on real estate, lower holding period for long term capital gain, larger homes under affordable housing affect everything – steel, cement, employment of unskilled labour, bank financing etc. This standalone has the potential to create a virtuous investment cycle.

Infrastructure is the other booster dose. What may seem like a simple protocol change – abolishing the separate presentation of Railway budget – reveals a grander ambition of an integrated end-to-end logistics framework with Railways as the center piece. The strengthening of the multi-modal transport system with railways and highways sector plays a critical role in improving the supply chain and logistics ecosystem in the country. This is a clear win for all sectors particularly e-Commerce players delivering goods across India.

The Budget also bolsters the consistent efforts by our government to cement India’s leadership in the ‘Digital World’. Every aspect of the budget emphasizes on Digital – be it cashless payments, encouraging indigenous manufacture of POS terminals, connecting Bharat, promotion of Bhim App, introduction of Aadhar Pay, etc. These are progressive steps which will fundamentally change how we as a country transition into a digitized avatar. Digital inclusion will drive financial inclusion, digital payments will be the new norm and e-Commerce a way of life. This emphasis on Digital will empower citizens and make the customer king.

The budget also recognizes the role of entrepreneurship and the need to foster innovation. The start-up eco-system will leapfrog with easier flow of capital and extension of tax benefit to 7 years. In the brick and mortar context, MSME’s are the original start-ups. Here again, it is heartening that the Government is investing in skill upgradation and providing tax relief for the MSME sector. The Indian furniture industry is pre-dominantly unorganized, accounts for about 2% of our GDP and employs over 50 Lakh people. We anticipate that these measures will provide an impetus to India’s furniture industry. The Pepperfry marketplace continues to be committed to a strong partnership with small business owners and craftsmen; together we shall help 20 million Indians create beautiful homes by 2020.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

2017_01_05_collage_blog

Our journey began when after years in corporate life, Ashish and I figured that while being in a comfort zone is beautiful, frankly nothing ever grows there and so it was time for us to do something new, exciting and quite possibly foolhardy… and it was a Tuesday Evening 5 years ago, when www.pepperfry.com was born.

Today, Pepperfry is India’s No.1 Furniture and Home Products Marketplace; but more importantly we are a team that’s been carved by a sense of purpose, tempered by mutual respect and forged together by the fires of success. Pepperfry has certainly given us all, some of our closest advisors, fiercest critics and bestest friends.

Our mantra has always been to fight hard and fast until our competitors ask if we are hiring. As we celebrate our 5th birthday today, I say kudos to the team’s passion, perseverance and pursuit of perfection, together we make music.

Here’s to a bright future, great friendships and the best team that we could ever wish for!

Happy Anniversary again! Let’s continue to Pioneer. Delight. Sizzle.

HAPPY PARTNERS TO YOU!

We at Pepperfry spend a lot of time reflecting on ourselves and the business. While it’s a very convenient method of procrastinating :), a lot of our thought and mind-share goes into how to simplify the business and ensure transparency with all our stakeholders be it merchants, customers, investors, et all.

Folks who’ve been closely associated with us will vouch for this.

Our merchant family is about 14,000 strong. Most of who have been associated with us over our 4.5 long years of business operations. We’ve recently rolled out an initiative (driven largely by merchant partner feedback) wherein we split our commission into various services we offer them in order to serve our customers.

In an attempt to provide them a detailed overview of all charges, we’ve redesigned our commission structure into the following 3 heads.

  • Marketing Fees
  • Platform Fees
  • Shipping and Handling Charges

Further, a service tax component is charged on the total of the above three heads as mandated by government regulations.

Do note that the current net commission charged by Pepperfry has not increased due to this initiative. The intent here was to empower to our partners and help them grow and take decisions around their relationship with us.

This change is effective as of 1st September, 2016 for all the customer orders.

Cheers!

HAPPY TREKKING TO YOU!

Landscape - The Chadar - 1The trigger for this blog is a discussion between some Pepperfry folks who are set to go on a high altitude trek in the next few weeks. I had done the ‘Chadar Trek’ recently in February this year and through the trek I kept thinking about the similarities between trekking and startup life. It’s an introspective monsoon day in Mumbai, business is good, so what better time than this to put my thoughts on paper.

 

IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO COUNT

There was a great bunch of people at the trek, a batch mate, his colleague, people I met for the first time at the trek and a couple of people I would have loved to hire for Chadar - Group
sheer enthusiasm. The weather had become warmer a few days before our trek and therefore parts of the ice sheet on the Zanskar River had melted. This had caused some groups who had left a couple of days before us to turn back and our group was faced with a similar decision. Our group decided to move further on, knowing fully well that we’d have to climb the cliff face over some sections of the river to continue the trek. We helped each other, learnt new and safe ways of climbing with experts (locals and porters) advising us and successfully forged on together as a group.

Pepperfry has been a similar experience. I have been blessed with a great co-founder and have had the fortune of counting some of the best human beings I have ever met as colleagues and friends. Together we have had our share of tricky paths to navigate over the last 4 years. One that I’ll never forget is when due to a subdued capital market in 2013 all the leaders in Pepperfry took massive pay cuts to restrict layoffs and still be able to invest behind marketing and supply chain. Our team and partners are the reason behind our success.

 

THINGS THAT LOOK GOOD SOMETIMES AREN’TMelted Chadar - 2

The Chadar ice sheet is tricky to navigate. There are basically 3 types of surfaces I encountered, this is a laypersons definition and my apologies in advance for not following any established nomenclature that might be out there.

The first type ‘hard Ice covered by fresh snow’ is easy to walk on as the snow provides enough friction to get a decent grip, you can walk faster and don’t get tired that easily. The second type of surface was ‘plain hard ice’ which looked and was slippery and you had to be extra careful walking on it. The third type of surface was the treacherous ‘hard ice covered by day old snow which looked like fresh snow but was as slippery as ice’, which lulled you into a false sense of comfort by looking just like fresh snow and was responsible for the largest number of falls. I must have fallen 10-15 times a day on this third surface till I accepted my inability to judge between old snow and new snow and therefore treated all snow with equal caution.

The lesson I learnt at the expense of several hard falls on the Chadar applies well to the startup life and is the fallowing (pun intended) – paths that look the same very often aren’t the same, it pays to investigate further and learn fast in order to avoid faltering on a regular basis. In Pepperfry for example, we started off selling all lifestyle goods including clothing and jewellery. We learnt the pitfalls of these categories early and despite them being attractive propositions at the time, realized they weren’t in line with our core values hence pivoted out to become a pure-play furniture and home retailer. Obviously, a great strategy in hindsightJ.

 

S@#T HAPPENS

Bala - Chadar Broke HandWe had all prepped for the trek with good equipment, great guides and endurance training. Then one of our group members fell and broke his wrist. Here, some context is important – the Chadar trek is done over a river that has iced over and is in the middle of a Himalayan gorge – no vehicle (on air, land or water) can get to you in an emergency. To top it all, cell phones don’t work which is an awesome break from office life, but sucks big time when you need help. So the only alternative open is to strap on and start walking back to the base station. Fortunately we had a sports doctor in our group (amazing, right!), the person who had broken his wrist had awesome will power and thankfully the incident happened on our way back so he and I trekked an extra 10 Km on the last 2 days to get back to civilization (Leh) a day earlier.

Here’s my learning. Prepare well and leave no stone unturned when you are trying to do something for the first time, but sometimes things don’t go as per plan and you’ve got to improvise, put in additional effort and above all be positive to manage under the toughest of circumstances.

 

WEAR SUNSCREEN! Chadar - Tents

We wore tons of sunscreen during the trek, at higher altitudes the sun is closer and its rays have a significant effect on the skin. But my reason for including this learning is the songJ, I love the song, do check it out when you get the chance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI

 

IN SUM

I guess the fun of a trek like a startup is in the journey and not only the destination. It’s in how we plan during the good times, how we face up to hardships and the friends we make along the way.

Happy Trekking To You!

 

RELATED LINKS AND CREDITS

The ‘Chadar Trek’ is a winter trek on the frozen Zanskar River/Zanskar Gorge in the Zanskar region of Ladakh. It’s a trek between vertical cliffs up to 600m high and on sections of the river less than 5m wide at places. The term ‘Chadar’ comes from the local language where it means ‘layer’ – indicating the layer of ice that covers the river.

The Chadar Trek is a high endurance trek which covers a distance of about 105 Km on foot, a typical trekker completes a distance of 15–17 Km each day for about 9 days.

The best time to do the Chadar Trek is January/February when the low winter temperatures (the temperature drops to -30o Celsius) freeze the river enough to be able to trek on the river.

Here are some useful links to learn more about the Chadar Trek:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chadar_Trek

https://www.thrillophilia.com/tours/frozen-river-chadar-trek

Photo Credits Courtesy Deepanshu, Pooja and Bala, Friends and Chadar Trek Group Members

WELCOME TO THE GREATEST BLOG EVER

Welcome to the World’s No.1 Blog*

(*Ranked Number 1 in an impartial survey amongst all Pepperfry employees who thought a corporate blog was a good idea).

You might think that we are a little late to the blog party and you’d be right. We couldn’t make time to blog because we’ve been on a crazy ride these last 4 years, getting from a small 21-member team managing a few customers and 200 square feet of warehousing space, to a thousand member team and a warehouse that can accommodate 3 airbuses side by side (we aren’t kidding, we checked).

All the hard work *snort* our CXOs have put in has not been in vain. We are today India’s largest managed marketplace for furniture and home products*

(*Ranked No. 1 in an impartial survey among left handed people from Powai buying items on a Sunday night – the discerning reader must have realized that we have also been working hard doing a lot of impartial surveys).

So yeah, good times.

Anyway, we’d love to tell you that we now have time to stop and smell the roses (read: bask in your adulation) but we’re basically doing this because we need the occasional digital hug.

Our blog (peptalk.pepperfry.com) will share with you what we’ve learnt, things that have gone right, things have gone wrong and things that SEO well. Stay tuned.

Happy Reading to You!