How being a start-up employee engagement becomes extremely crucial

2 nov blog main

Life at a start-up is dynamic, sometimes chaotic and muddled. Every day presents new challenges that the employees tackle efficiently and effectively. Running through a week piled up with work is taxing and as the weekend nears the office animates with the weekend plans. But for any company to function right it becomes necessary for start-ups like us to keep their employees engaged. The word ‘engagement’ for us means a lot more than team building activities. It is a constant process that includes creating a supportive work environment and pushing the boundaries of work by constantly challenging the employees and giving them opportunities to learn.

We are very proud of our employee retention rate which is almost 100%, there are things we follow to keep that rate consistently high.

1) Flat organisation

Keeping the employees involved in the decision making process and giving each and every employee a considerable chunk of responsibility critical to the functioning of the company is how we define our work environment. We hardly have any layers within the organisation. The employees are given the utmost freedom to experiment creatively and technically during the development phase of the product.

2) Promoting synchronisation

A ship sails smoothly on the seas only when the crew does their duty effectively and in sync with each other. The development of a product, marketing and sales are only effectual when the team is synchronised to the goal. The teams meet regularly to list out the intricacies that follow the development, marketing and how we can tackle the same.

3) Celebrating the smallest of things

A birthday celebration or a team lunch party or celebrating farewell’s with our interns, we celebrate the smallest of the things in the company. There are days when a mountain of work piles up, but there are also days when we wallow in downtime.

2 nov blog – 3

4) Making best use of the time and resources

In a start-up resources are scarce and time scarcer, we have to make sure that the work that we plan for a certain week does not spill into other. We aim to reach checkpoints weekly before reaching our monthly goals.

2 nov blog – 4

5) It is not always about work

We go for company picnics, revel in Garba celebrations and participate in carom tournaments. We believe in working hard but when it comes to occasions as such we don’t hold ourselves back.

2 nov blog – 5

A company functions right when the employees are enthusiastic and dedicated towards the work and the vision the company aims to achieve. In a microwork environment of a start-up employee recognition also plays an important role, it is the peers within the team that inspire each other. Pay1 has a conducive work environment, the employees here are extremely passionate about their work and are eager to learn more and deliver better every time they come to work.

Abandon Migration- Embrace Villages

blog 31st may

 

“Give a man a fish; you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and he will be able to feed himself for the rest of his life.”

An old Chinese cliché and like all clichés it speaks the tales of wisdom. More than two decades have passed since India has embarked on major economic reforms- and although the number of poor in rural areas have declined, is it the complete picture? Have we really gone far enough? The number of poor has declined and gone where? Well, to the cities, giving birth to a new category of poor- the urban poor.

This category of urban poor is that fisherman from the above fable who has been provided with a simple fishing rod and a canoe so that he does not go hungry. But that was in the first phase of the economic reforms and the industrial revolution. For him to rise above poverty, have a meaningful, economically empowered standard of living he needs employment at reasonable wages. A fishing rod has fed him so far, but now he needs a job in a commercial fishing company. This job can empower his children to move up the development ladder and go on to become an engineer designing motorized fishing rods.

As we address the need for the new phase of economic reforms, we need to see beyond the industrial revolution and consider a technology or digital revolution. The fisherman and millions like him in India need a digital revolution to rise and become a part of India’s technology growth story. A primary focus of this phase should be on sustainability and empowerment for the rural population.

There are essentially two ways that a person can be a part of economic value creation – either by being an employee or being self-employed. Becoming an employee is dependent on many factors like skills, vocational training, higher education and urban opportunities. But with urban geography bursting into seams and overstretched for resources and opportunities, it will not be able to fulfil the promise of urban migration.

The other way of becoming a part of the economic value creation is being self-employed. The hopeful and willing rural population, buoyant with entrepreneurial spirit needs innovative, sustainable and scalable ways of creating employment for themselves.

The platform approach

The digitally lagging and financially starved rural hinterlands of India need a technology platform which brings together benefits of technology, mobile phone, and capital.

One such technology platform empowering the most commonly found rural businesses; the unorganised retail store is the pay1.  The retail-tech platform converges the advantages of technology, digital payments, and micro-credits.

The platform empowers the unorganised offline retailer with technology in an app or web-based portal. The retailer can access information about the new products and cross-sell products and services. The technology also gives him access to many services like digital payments, recharge remittances, etc. The Pay1 account can be used to provide e-commerce facility to many rural customers who are not conversant with digital payments.

The Pay1 platform connects the retailer to banks and products and services companies looking for locations for mini-ATM, a brand promotion hoarding, surveys and kiosk or display space. By undertaking these activities, the retailer increases his revenue streams (rental, promotion fees etc.), increases footfall and increases sales by cross-selling.

The tech platform provides the retailer with technology to manage inventory, store customer data, transaction history, etc. This data can be sold to banks and non-banking financial services companies for loan and credit card lead generation.

The Pay1 platform can help the retailer increase his business by connecting them to partner with logistics companies. The retailer can offer some storage space to logistics companies for a fee and become their decentralised warehouse or courier drop-off and delivery centre.

There are a plethora of possibilities how an innovative and agile retail tech platform can bring business into rural locations: by merely upgrading their current business model.

Business opportunities available on a mobile interface can empower rural India to become self-reliant and grow their business.

Thus empowering the small unorganised business with technology can help them move up the economic ladder rather than perish in disguised employment or seek refuge in cities and become urban-unemployed- poor.

The thriving unorganised businesses seem disarrayed but are they really un-organised?

11th may

Enter any bazaar in our country the hustle and bustle, the loud noises of dukaandars shouting out prices of the products they sell. No place in the world will feel as alive as these bazaars, zeal through which our dukaandars sell the products is unmatched. It feels chaotic and lively at the same time, if we step back and observe for a second we may not be able to wipe out the smirk. The boisterousness is surprising to the least.

The uniqueness of India lies in its ability to surprise. But is it because of chaos around us, we understand the sense of organised operations. The previous statement does not purport that business cannot be profitable in such situations. Infact, the unorganised retail market today is an 800 billion dollar industry. But do we need to understand one side of the coin to understand or define the value of the other, or is chaos and order are the same sides of one coin? The case of Indian unorganised business is unique the retail market here matured by being in the state of disarray and now the same has become a part of the routine. Every business has a phase and while passing through phases they get more and more organised, we went through the same and we are still evolving and through learning to walk the rough road we learn better.

So the definition of organised is the absence of chaos or is chaos a subjective term that varies from business to business. For retail business in India, there will be order in chaos, even if the order is not noticeable to the person who is not accustomed to the process of trading. For the retailer, his business may seem much organised because the order is what we humans rely on, so through that, we can easily deduce the fact that chaos for one person may be organised for other. Every business has a rhythm with which it works, the rhythm may not be easy to figure out at first but once the rhythm of the beat sinks in it becomes easy for us to understand the process.

Chaos in Order or Order in Chaos

This may be a paradoxical argument that one may not be able to conclude. But some business is nothing more but chaos in order or chaos in check and the others order in chaos. But in any case, the order in the business process is what we rely on. It is human nature to set rules because without rules there will be no organisation or process of working. We think that even chaos cannot be random, everything has a cause and effect. Businesses thrive in situations where it can work in both. Unorganised retail market today is successful due to its ability survive the upheavals and easily cruise through paradoxes of the statements.

 

RETAILER JOURNEY– HARSHAD PANDYA

 

16th march (1)

Walk on any road in Mumbai or any other urban city in India, amidst all the pollution, smog and dust you will certainly find men or women standing or sitting behind a counter reading newspapers or interacting with customers. Sometimes irreverent to their surroundings and sometimes keenly glancing at the pavements searching for customers. Peculiarity surrounding this market is that the unorganised retail sector always thrives regardless of the economic condition of the country. Ironically our country’s economic stability very much depends on these retailers.

In the journey that Pay1 has led throughout the years, we have met many exceptionally sound businessmen/retailers, who knew how to turn around their business and made their retail hub a successful venture. One such person is Mr. Harshad Pandya who has been a client of us for the longest time. He came to Mumbai from Gujarat some 30 years back unprepared with a vision in mind, to start a successful business.

16th march_1 (1)

With only an objective in mind, Harshad went on to open a garment shop which was profitable for a very long time. He faced a lot of challenges as any businessman would in our maximum city, but he never deterred from his initial vision. Puffing out cigarette smoke and holding a cup of saccharine tea in one hand with a grin he profoundly utters “This city pushes you to your limits sometimes even beyond that, if unprepared it hits you like a brick wall.” flicking ashes from his cigarette after. He started his mobile business in 2009, after observing the mobile phone trend for the years while operating his garment business and decided to flow with the wind. Now operating a 1000 sq. foot mobile shop in suburbia with 2-3 employees working under him, Harshad has certainly come a long way. He still considers himself as an apprentice in the business line, as there is always more to learn and involvement of Retail-Tech Company like ours is only going to help businesses like his to profit as learning about new profitable opportunities is what makes a business successful.

In every corner in India we have an entrepreneur and nowhere in the world will you find a web of retailers on which 100’s of multinational companies rely on. Keeping the empty teacup aside he says that “I speak 5 languages and if my customer is comfortable in speaking Marathi, I will change my tongue. I have to make my customer feel welcomed and if I cannot do that I have failed”. The customer relation skill of these unorganised retailers is on par with many organised E-commerce retail segment and sometimes even better. Empowering this segment is only directly going to benefit the country.

Harshad has been associated with Pay1 since last 5 years and uses many of our services. “It is because of strong customer support and smooth transaction module that I keep coming back to Pay1. The platform provides me with an array of financial services which has helped me improve my customer footfalls on daily basis,” says Harshad.

We at Pay1 are grateful to retailers like Mr. Harshad Pandya who have been an unwavering client of ours for a very long time. By empowering these retailers not only Pay1 prospers, but also our country along with all of us.

 

 

Women: Work From Home and Earn

A.K Mobile 1(Pay1 retailer Kanchan Singh who operates from home)

India has been witnessing a drop in the number of women employed. It is common to see women dropping out of work either post marriage or after giving birth to a child. A new dimension is however showing up – access to higher education. Women today recognize that it pays to be educated and with secondary education now being more within reach than before, many of them prefer to continue with their studies and postpone working.

A recent BBC report provides an interesting insight:

  • Between 2004-05 to 2011-12, nearly 20 million Indian women quit work
  • Maximum drop out happened in rural areas and in the age group of 15-24 years

When incomes at home stabilize it is often the woman who opts out from working further. The onus of running the house continues with the husband since it is now perceived that his income is stable enough to take care of the family and expenses.

Keeping the above in mind, how can we incentivize women to continue to work?

Joining Pay1s digital network and signing up as a distributor or retailer is a great way to balance home and work. You also get an opportunity to earn a handsome amount of money. Many of our women distributors/retailers operate their offices from home itself.

This kind of work environment is of particular advantage to women who feel a sense of independence and empowerment. Becoming financially independent has never been so easy. Contact us now to find out how.

India Doesn’t Need Mass Production; It Needs Production by Masses

Balanced Workforce and Automation

India is a country that flourishes on human resources. The westernization or technological advancements have shown radical transformations in its business processes and commercial transactions, the core essence of all the businesses being us! Yes, we the humans! Being the second most populated country in the world, there is a large availability of a workforce that needs employment to earn their bread and butter. With the vast scope of the labor force, the present economy is proving to be unable to provide adequate opportunities for employment. Hence the crisis of unemployment is increasing rapidly. With the emergence of well-educated and jobless candidates, the GDP of India is profoundly affected since years. Automation or mechanization has made lots of industrial operations easy, but at the same time, they have snatched away the opportunities for individuals to work.

India has a plethora of population divided into different sections. In India, 45% of people are below the age of 25 years which means they are supposed to be the first workforce. But, automation crisis has made a huge section of the population unemployed. Now, let’s simplify the above statement. In Indian Railways, a significant amount of procedures has been computerized that have made labors lose their jobs. India’s economic model is a different one. It’s based on demand and consumption that needs a harmonious balance between automation and human efforts though it is required to excel in production rate through mechanization.

You may wonder why it is necessary to encourage the mass production through masses. Mass production can lead the country to increase export, and as a result, it will support production rate, enhanced currency rate. However, India is an agrarian economy, and hence balanced growth can be achieved through skilled labor growth. There is an excellent amount of talented workforce available in the country that can be ideally utilized for different types of businesses in various industries. Conventionally, the economic policy of our nation has been a strong believer in fostering the employment opportunities through creating job openings for aspiring job-seekers.
For stable economic growth in developing countries like India, it is always imperative that the living condition of the citizens can nurture only through harmonized mix of automation and human efforts. Social inclusion and literacy rate are the core factors that will always remain at the center point while the efforts will be made for creating and securing job opportunities for the people. Mass production and that too produced by masses will strengthen the industrialization. Adding to that, since the labor participation will be motivated in the procedure, they won’t feel insecure about losing their work.

When it comes to traditional retailers like Kirana stores, the threat posed by automation seems much bigger. In the manufacturing of goods and services automation has already taken away the bread and butter of small labors, sales also isn’t narrating a different story! E-commerce retailers such as Flipkart and Amazon along with organized retailers are significant hazards for small-scale workers. Since the shopping trend is gradually changing, it’s an alarming situation for these Kirana store retailers. Taking innovative steps in sales and marketing at primary level will certainly help these small retailers sustain and excel in the competitive edge. Kirana store retailers need to sign-up with company like Pay1 to purchase commercial goods at cost-effective rates to offer them at moderate prices to the customers. They also need to take few different steps in their sales to advertising themselves in their locality. Easier access and strong buyer-customer relation are still significant strengths of these stores that large players like can never have. Social media access and the internet can be the tools operating through apps for these small Kirana retailers to attract the customers living in their vicinity.

However, at the govt. Level efforts like few amendments in the FDI policy are required. While encouraging foreign investments, security of small retailers should not be overlooked. E-commerce retailers in collaboration with Kirana retailers can be a way to maintain a balanced growth of both the motives.

Here’s how Pay1 contributes to the economy by empowering the local shopkeepers.

Empowered Local Shopkeeper

The boom of urbanization and digital revolution in India has transformed Indian marketplaces never before. The retail industry in India shares about 22% of its GDP in Indian economy. As of 2015, there were 12 million kirana stores in India translating into 10 stores per 1,000 Indians. The advent of FDI in retail has enabled several international and a corporate giant retail group of companies to enter the Indian markets.

Now, you might be missing out small, unorganized retailers (general stores) around your vicinity. Since ages, you would have been ordering monthly goods such as ration from the Kirana store nearby your house. Remember the old days when you had to list down the products, and quantity needed. Kirana shopkeeper used to send a person to your house with a bunch of goods ordered. Or even, you must use to visit Kirana stores to buy whatever you need.

Small Kirana stores in India have been proven to be an unwavering strength of the economy, and they will continue to sustain. India’s retail market is expected to grow at 7% over the next 10 years, reaching a size of US$ 850 billion by 2020. Taking into account all facts and figures about Kirana industry in India, Pay1 has decided to strengthen the Kirana store retailers to the next level. Using smartphone technology, Pay1 aims to focus on Kirana retailers to make them more tech-savvy to use the technology to boost their sales. It hence has decided to come up with an innovative and engaging app that will supplement Kirana retailers with an active force in their business.

The app would be completely user-friendly and compatible across multiple devices. It will consist of several purchase options that local retailers could explore quickly to find out favorite items. For example, buying goods from wholesalers isn’t a cakewalk for these small retailers. They have to travel to distant wholesale markets situated in one corner of the city that includes lots of financial and physical efforts. The app will be having various categories like vegetables, groceries, fruits, stationary, etc. that Kirana retailers would be able to order online with required quantities. They just would need to follow easy steps to order products they need.

Integrated payment gateway options would be given to them to align the app with diversified Kirana retailers. Free registration to the app with unique member IDs for the dedicated Kirana retailers will make a success story for this app! Special festive offers or occasional discounts could be given to them to attract a larger share of Kirana retailers across India. The app would be providing all sorts of buying services for them through a convenient and safe process of online transactions. It includes ordering wholesale products following convenient payment options like Wallet payments and so on.

Utilizing this app, Kirana retailers will be able to increase their productivity in their business. It will save their time and money in purchasing bulk goods. This app is supposed to strengthen retailers’ buying practices and capacities in all possible ways. Hence with more profits, small retailers too would be able to invest more in store expansion and development operations. It eventually will benefit the customers with increased choices of products belonging to different brands at competitive prices. Reason being empowering Kirana stores is bit straightforward.

Besides these factors, there are few interesting benefits that customers often enjoy with Kirana retailers and not with lavish shopping malls. Credit without credit cards! If you are a loyal customer of a particular general store, you naturally develop a good relation with the shopkeeper over a period. It’s like you can pick up whatever you need and can tell him to note down the list of items you have shopped. You can pay the bill later. This business so runs upon mutual understanding and trust that you would never experience in any hypermarket.

With such a significant share of small shopkeepers functioning in the local markets, there is a golden opportunity to equip them with upgraded technology. With the massive growth of population and potential buyers in India, the road ahead is prosperous for small retailers. Pay1 is always there to accompany them with all required advancements to relish their journey!

What Start-ups Can Learn From A Kirana Store (part 2)

What Start-ups Can Learn From A Kirana Store (part 2)

India has traditionally been a resourceful and entrepreneurial society. Small business has always been a way of life. The difference now however, is the possibility and even ease of scaling exponentially in a small duration of time. India has been a savings economy until now. The foreign investment tap has been opened and financing is suddenly not the scary endeavour it used to be.

0912_social_media

However, a large investment means a large marketing budget. And a large part of the marketing budget is spent of trial and error. Nowadays marketing and advertising are not cumbersome affairs like less than a decade ago. Social media, email and app marketing have made marketing exponentially more accessible and inexpensive. The flipside of this fact is that advertising is now much more common and therefore much more ignored.

Here’s what we learned from our vast network of small entrepreneurs about the one basic marketing skills without which a million-dollar marketing budget will go to waste. And that is:

Creating A Tribe

0912_marketing

A kirana store owner knows that 100 engaged customers are better than 10000 unattached customers. A kirana store actively caters to a small but faithful number of customers regularly and efficiently. A start-up’s marketing strategy also must target a highly specialized and well defined audience instead of grabbing random eyeballs willy-nilly. Start-ups can learn to create a highly engaged niche instead of always trying to create a generalized, all-encompassing brand. Not everyone can be (or should be) Google

What Start-ups Can Learn From A Kirana Store

01dec_startup_kirana_learning

The start-up culture has arrived in earnest in India. New ideas, new technologies and new concepts are being explored at a mind-blowing speed. New businesses, variations of existing businesses and entirely new sectors are being discovered. Venture capital is freely available if you have an idea. But what if your venture doesn’t get funding? As it happens, it’s not the end of the road. In fact, an absence of funding means you have full stake in your company. And if you believe in what you’re doing why would you want to give control to anyone else? A self-financed venture gives you the freedom to execute your vision without interference.

01dec_kirana_store

At Pay1 we collected data from our retailers, distributors and other micro-entrepreneurs. One thing that is common among all of them is that they are bootstrappers. One thing that we learnt was common among all the bootstrapping businessmen in our vast network was one thing. And that is:

FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE

01dec_financial_liquidity

A kirana store runs on the principle of sell now, pay later. The owner knows how to squeeze the last drop of liquidity in an already constrained budget. For a start-up, it would mean focusing on profit from day 1, refraining from price undercutting as customer acquisition strategy and creating a product that solves real world problems and not just on paper. Above all, in a start-up, liquidity is the engine of innovation. Preserve it.

To be continued next week…

4 Ways You Can Save Big on Your Business Courier Costs

28_oct_pay1_packagingProduct packaging is one optimizer, if taken advantage of it could be a key to all your branding exercises and in the sale of your product. The idea being that your packaging has an impact on influencing customers and connects people to your product through showmanship. Basically, the way you package your product adds to the value of your product. It also sends a message that you care that your product safely reaches your customers.
So, how attractive is your packaging? You want your package to stand out visually, but when you’re shipping hundreds of thousands of items per day, the cost of attractive packaging is significantly high.
The following lists four ways you can significantly reduce shipping costs. Managing shipping costs is essential. Couriers are already so expensive, but you don’t have to sacrifice visually attractive packaging to save money. By reducing courier costs, you can apply more funds to package design and have both an attractive package without a hefty price tag.

Box Sizer System is a Great Saver: Invest in them

28_oct_box_sizer

Packaging isn’t something that’s outsourced. You don’t send your products to a company to be wrapped and couriered. Instead, packaging takes place in-house using an automated box sizer, which efficiently sizes the packaging, thus reducing costs. It looks into intelligently measuring the empty volume of a filled carton and shrink and seal the package, which in turn saves a lot of money on courier costs. That money can then be applied to labeling or printing on the package to make it more attractive.

Negotiation is a Win-Win: Negotiate Courier Rates with Courier Companies

28_oct_negotiations

The more you parcel, the better position you are in for negotiating rates. You are spending more than the average couriers and this gives you leverage. Many offer incentives to businesses, and you can call around for quotes and offer these quotes to competitors. Keep negotiating until you get the absolute best rate, and don’t be afraid to cast a wide net.

Delivery Fees are Extra expenses: Cut down on Them

28_oct_zero_delivery_charges

Once you have selected a courier provider, you will need to make yourself known with all of their fees. You don’t want to get caught up overpaying on a dispatch you had wrongly assumed would be affordable. Zone-based pricing does add a bit of transparency to the costs, but not all providers offer this (especially if you are dispatching huge quantities).
Make sure your courier company understands that what you expect is the cheapest mode of transportation. Compare pricing in regards to tariff schedule. Make sure that they understand you want to avoid expensive zones, and that you are looking for the most cost-effective delivery method.

Refunds are Manageable: Take Advantage of It

28_oct_manageable_refunds

Have you audited the costs lately? If not, have a financial expert or human resources person have a look at your courier company’s money-back guarantees. It’s important to audit every single dispatch because somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of the time the major couriers don’t meet their guarantees, and that’s money in your pocket.

Once you have lowered your courier costs, you can apply the savings to create an attractive package. This does not have to cost a fortune; in fact, something as simple as an attractive font or colorful wrapping can make a big difference. The point is that your packaging can be something more recognizable than the standard brown bag or box.
This Diwali remember all those you love and care, and make them feel cared and be remembered.
Happy Diwali!