We have seen that the new wave of e-commerce firms are increasingly focusing on consumer niches like Food Delivery, Beauty products, Eyewear, Watches etc. This niches seem to be the gaps that have been left by the big e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Infibeam etc. When researching a product, a consumer (at least me) would probably prefer a place/service which specialises in a particular category of products. This maybe for variety of reasons but the important part is that this niche service is expected to have a bigger collection, more expertise and better prices.
BulbTiger.com is one such startup which seeks to make its mark in the India e-commerce segment by selling lighting and electrical products online. The particular segment has been very poorly serviced/explored by other companies and BulbTiger seems to be taking advantage of that. Founded by Vikas Agarwal and Shashank Jain, the company is 15 people strong, stocks 15,000+ products, deals in 50+ brands and has 20000+ monthly visitors from all over the country. All this is excellent when you realise that the company is extremely young, having started its operations in November 2011. The company cites a statistic from ELCOMA which says that the Indian Lighting Market was worth $2 billion in 2011. What if you could get a significant part of it online? That would be great for the company as it strives to become the number one online destination for lighting products and electricals.
Of late, due to the boom in property buying and renovation, more people are looking to design their own houses on their own with their own aesthetics. Lighting is a major component of this new shift. If the company gets Indian consumers more choice in terms of bulbs and lights with a special focus on aesthetic lighting, then I predict that the company will do well. Besides the personal and home consumer, there is another important market, that of industrial lighting. As the industrial sector grows in the country so does the demand for lighting. The company is banking on these factors to scale their venture meaningfully.
We spoke to Vikas Agarwal about the company and its offering.
Q. What was your reason to focus on such a niche area in E-commerce?
We chose lighting products because of their wide spread use in everyday life. Lighting as a category stands out as lighting products are virtually present everywhere around us in abundance. Also, Government implementation of energy efficient lighting system and growing middle class is expected to boost the market. This is exactly what we were looking for: a large, niche and untapped category with strong growth drivers and high entry barriers.
This is a niche in which the consumer seeks a very wide variety of choice, way more than a retailer can possibly offer and thus ideal for online commerce. However, it is not an easy niche to build a supply chain for and that is the primary challenge that we are trying to solve. Moreover, the challenges in niche categories are supply chain related and thus there is genuine opportunity to improve industry dynamics. The opportunity in the online lighting business is big provided one manages to offer large selection of genuine products and deliver quality customer service.
Q. How has the traction been on your website since you have started?
Our traction has been moderate so far but it is better than expected considering that it is extremely niche category and most of sales were driven by organic traffic. Our target customer is a new home buyer or someone who is looking to refurbish his home. The purchases for such products are discretionary and very involved. To capture demand for such involved purchases, it is important to have dedicated platform to offer maximum variety and customize offerings per customer need.
Q. What kind of tie-ups do you guys have at the dealer/ merchant level to source products?
Decorative lighting industry is driven by large importers and few major brands such as Philips, EGLO, Jaquar etc. We have tied-up with most of these brands and importers. We also have exclusive tie-up with some of these brands to manage their products across all online shopping portals. We are flexible in our operating model and use multiple formats accommodate our supply partners to provide maximum variety to our valued customers. Currently, we have tied-up with around 30 lighting brands across India.
Q. The things sold on Bulbtiger are fragile, how do you ensure proper delivery?
The goods are fragile but we pack our products in 3-5 layers of packaging material to ensure maximum safety during shipping. We have also taken insurance for some of our products to further de-risk ourselves from shipping related issues. From consumer perspective, there is zero shipping risk as we offer 100% refund or quick replacement against any manufacturing defect or any damage during transit.
Q. What milestone would you guys like to hit one year from now?
Currently we are able to recover most of our transaction and operating costs. However, the admin overheads, technology costs and marketing costs as well as promoters salary can only be recovered after achieving certain scale. So, the immediate goal for us is to achieve that scale and become profitable in absolute sense so that our venture can become self sustainable and do not require additional cash infusion. We expect to become self-sustainable by end of 2013.
Website | BulbTiger