Shopo.in’s co-founder Krithika Nelson on what makes her virtual marketplace stand out from the rest.

When Krithika Nelson ranted her woes to her best friend little did she know that a one-stop-shop for hand-crafted, handmade and designer goods would be born — shopo.in!

From jewellery to home decor, stationery to designer sarees, home made chocolates to organic beauty products… Shopo has them all. Krithika offers a platform to host your own online store front. In other words, lets you do what you love the most and takes care of the rest of the dirty work to make your products the superstars!

Before shopo.in…

I spent almost six years in mainstream media (TV & Radio) before deciding to take a break and pursue my other interest — designing. That’s when I realised that selling your designs beyond the third circle of friends was very difficult. Social media helps a little, but not completely. One fine day, I was ranting to a friend of eight years and partner-in-crime now, Theyagarajan, and we had a moment when we knew this was what we wanted to do. Taggy, as we call him, quit his job and I shut down my studio. We started working on Shopo together in June 2011, as a two-people team with 20 sellers on board. Today, we have around 700 sellers, with products in over 200 categories and a team of 15 that is working at making Shopo the first and biggest marketplace for everything with an Indian heart.

How do you get your sellers?

We have people who apply for a store on Shopo and we also go after designers or artists whose work we like.

There are a few things we are very strict about. One, that the seller should be the original creator. We do not allow resellers and distributors. And two, the product should be made in India. Lastly, the seller should not indulge in plagiarism of design, and we make sure that he/she does not have a history of such.

We do a lot of screening and psychological interviewing before we let a seller in. We try to keep the quality up as much as possible. In cases like food and beauty care, we try the products on ourselves. If we are alive and without rashes the next day, we let the products go up on the site.

What’s in it for you?

We take a 15 per cent cut out of every successful sale. The sellers have their own self-serviced dashboard where they can update details of products, orders, tracking numbers of the packages they have shipped out etc. I should say they have been more diligent than we expected them to be and give more attention to detail than we do for their orders. 

How did you manage networking?

We have one curator in Mumbai, and a network of people who help us with lots of things. But the world today is pretty much 100 per cent online. Our networking is also predominantly online as a result.

On giving a virtual retail space to youngsters…

It has changed our lives totally. All the trouble has been worth it!

Is there any category you have left out for retailing?

Canvas art is something we have left out for now. It is difficult for a buyer to understand the detailing in a piece of art through a photograph. And if, by some remote chance, the piece gets damaged in transit, it’s almost irreparable and the value is not just monetary. Sometime in the future maybe...

What were the difficulties you faced as a young entrepreneur?

When we started, it was a new experience for Taggy and me, but I would call things challenges rather than difficulties. From finding the right team to getting the money to keep the company going, we have understood quite a bit about the business now. We overcome challenges by learning from the previous challenges! That is what we have done in our case too.

There are so many e-commerce websites. What makes shopo.in special? 

Shopo is a marketplace for ONLY INDIAN products. It is also a place where you get to buy things directly from its makers. What makes us special is our unique category of products. We are adding new categories every other week as well. We have recently started concentrating on food products a little more. We got pickle makers on board recently; that has been doing extremely well. Next, we are considering self-learning kits for adults and a lot more interesting categories in the pipeline. Shopo continues to surprise us with the list of possibilities.  

Is e-commerce the next big thing?

E-commerce is the current big thing. And when there is a saturation point, you will start seeing a lot of creative solutions from the industry. One thing that is bound to happen is the shift to mobile commerce. 

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Krithika ReddyMay 11, 2012