Online adda

The coming of tea-commerce

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An unusual e-commerce venture in Mumbai takes the neighbourhood chai vendor online
You know e-commerce has jumped an orbit when it brings the neighbourhood tea stall under its ambit. Raman Misra was just another roadside tea vendor in the suburb of Bandra when he was approached to be part of shop.chotuchaiwala. com. “They said that these days, everything sells online— shoes, clothes, you name it. So why not tea? In the beginning I thought it will be a difficult task. But it’s quite simple. I don’t have to operate a computer. I just get an SMS from the website guys and we get the tea delivered,” says Misra.

The online tea shop is that subset of e-commerce sites that capitalises on local vendors. Another example is www.chandnichowkfood. com which has partnered with famous food vendors in Chandni Chowk to deliver their signature dishes across India. Last year many online grocery stores popped up, but a cup of local tea is still the most interesting.

Right now, the business is a month old and limited to Bandra. Customers sign up for plans which are weekly or more. They are charged a delivery fee plus the cost of the tea itself. Currently, five tea vendors have tied up with the website and received 70 new orders between them. The pace is picking up. “We have a boy who delivers in the distance of two and two-and- a-half kilometres. I send tea in a flask so that it stays hot. We have had a standing order of at least ten cups a day for a month now,” says Misra. The e-commerce website development firm www.zepo.in, which is behind the venture, plans to expand soon to office localities like Lower Parel. Delhi might also be on the cards.

Varun KR, marketing executive at www.zepo.in, says their main customer base is officegoers and shopowners. “Many people have been talking about us on Twitter and Facebook. While most think it’s a great initiative, some think there was no reason for such a service to get an online presence,” says Varun.