How Amazon Helped My Family Business to Become an Online Brand

Fate always finds its own way of surprising us.
Something similar happened to me and my business, Hathmic.

If you go to Amazon India’s page and look for Hathmic products, you’ll find it’s an edible oil brand. But things were not the same for this brand a few years back. Before joining Amazon, I owned a retail business of electronics and appliances. The business was running fine until 2014, when the economic slowdown hit the nation. And like many other small and medium businesses, my retail business also went down with it. The impact on the business was severe and it was difficult to recover from the crisis. Hence, I decided to shut it down.

Luckily, it was not all over for me. We had a family business of edible oil that was running now for generations. So, after losing my business to the economic crisis, I decided to focus on my family business. Planning to run it full-time now by myself, I thought of including the oil business into our brand name for the retail segment. But creating a brand was not that easy as it required a lot of cash flow. And even after putting significant investment into it, the results were not as expected. Eventually and unfortunately, the liquidity crunch led us to the decision of shutting this business also.

But as luck would have it, just when we were about to shut the business in 2016, I heard about selling on Amazon. It was a completely new concept for me but it sounded interesting. After researching and understanding the marketplace, I felt that this could be a new opportunity.

Offline vs. Online Selling Worlds

Holding on to the last hope, I entered into the world of online selling. And I must say, although I have been doing business for a very long time, online selling was something new. So just like everyone, I had to start fresh. Gradually my knowledge of the marketplace grew. The transition to the world of online business was quite eye-opening. I was astonished to see the tools available and the vast opportunities they offered for sellers like me to grow their business. I can certainly say that the online business on Amazon proved far better for Hathmic in multiple aspects.

1. Overheads

Joining Amazon made me realize the difference between starting an offline vs. an online business. I remember the time when I had set up my local store. I recall finding a place, hiring staff, and the maintenance cost. As a new seller, it was very overwhelming for me.

On the other hand, starting my Amazon business just required creating my seller account and stocking up inventory. That was it. No additional costs. Online selling came as a huge relief to me as it took care of the setup costs for my business.

2. Market access

Till the time Hathmic was selling locally, I had access to the local buyers only from the neighborhood. My reach was limited to the nearby localities. But with the onset of Amazon selling, my family business is now visible to the entire country. Now even as I sit in Bengaluru, I can find customers for my products and sell to someone sitting in any part of the country. This has significantly increased sales for my business.

3. Availability to customers

In my local shop, I could only sit for 8-10 hours to sell. Also, the store remained closed on weekends and holidays. This restricted the sale during those times when I was not available but buyers may have approached my shop. The most remarkable thing about online selling is that now I can serve to my buyers 24*7. They can buy anytime, at their comfort. Unlike my earlier days, as long as I have inventory, I am making sales even while sleeping or when I am on vacation.

4. Brand Publicity

Word of mouth is a strong way of spreading news. It is a powerful tool for increasing sales for businessmen. I have experienced it first hand. When I had my local shop, word of mouth publicity of my products used to bring more customers. But its power is way stronger in online selling. This is because of the wider reach I gained online. Customer feedback and reviews play a crucial role here. I learned that new customers tend to read and know more about the product through feedback. So I paid attention and started reverting to customers’ queries and complaints. This helped in creating a buzz around my products and establishing a brand name for Hathmic.

Facing New Challenges

Of course, trying anything new brings new challenges. But you should always be ready and determined to face them and find a solution. As we grew our business on Amazon, we did face some challenges. But Amazon helped us at each step to find our way around it.

1. Product Visibility

As a new seller, it might be a little challenging to increase the visibility of your products to the customers. Already big brands are selling to a vast majority of customers, so getting more sales can be worrisome. But Amazon has various tools to help you there. Running sponsored ads on Amazon made my products visible to more customers in no time. Higher product visibility really helped in conversions. I was able to create brand awareness for Hathmic by leveraging different sales like Deal of the day, Diwali sale, Great Indian Sale, and other such sales.

2. Market Competition

Bigger marketplace means bigger competition. This is what I experienced on Amazon. At my local store, there was no significant competition as I was selling in my locality and had my own customer niche. But on Amazon, the competition was immense. But competition did wonders for my business. It gave me a chance to push myself beyond my capabilities to achieve more, gain more customers, and more sales. And helping me achieve that, were Amazon’s amazing tools and customer support through which I could offer top product quality and excellent customer service.

Helpful Tips to be a Successful Seller

As someone who started from ground zero in online selling, I can say that my journey from being a new seller to becoming a brand has been a wonderful one. During the course, I gained some insights into making Hathmic a bigger brand.

● Know your market. You can excel if you know when, how, and what market strategy to leverage. Learn every little thing about your marketplace. That’s what helped me gain a quick boost on Amazon.

● The product looks matter to the customers. Make an appealing catalog for the customers, giving all the product details with infographics.

● Amazon is full of resources to help the sellers. Use all those resources and programs like Prime Seller, FBA, Easy Ship, and many such services for your business’s benefit.

● Paying attention to product reviews and feedback is a must. Always listen to what the customers are saying about the product. Revert with a solution for negative feedback.

● Give a wonderful experience to all your customers. On-time delivery, proper packaging, and replying to their queries help in creating a loyal customer base.

● Always keep a watch on your competitors. Look out for what are their marketing and pricing strategies, what deals do they offer, and what conversations are going on around their product.

● Increase your product visibility through deals and advertisements.

● And lastly, make sure to not deviate from the rules of the Amazon marketplace. You may get penalized. Be 100% compliant and follow the guidelines.

For me, the customer is the king. And we should serve only the best to the king. That is the key that led Hathmic to the position where it is today. My journey from almost shutting my business to becoming a brand on Amazon has taught me how to deal in the online selling environment. The success achieved by Hathmic would have never been possible if I was not on the Amazon marketplace and still selling through my local shop.
Saravanan Kumaramangalam
Chairman- Hathmic
Amazon Seller - Part of the Amazon Saathi,
Seller Mentorship Program
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