Indians can be found in any corner of the world today, working, studying, or settled with families. No matter where in the world they are, they will always crave for Indian food. While Indian restaurants can be easily found, at least in some pockets of the world, there is a dearth of Indian snacks. Indian stores abroad sometimes house them, but they are few and far off. From my own experience in the Bay Area, I can tell they are very expensive, and sometimes house not-so-fresh stuff.
Most NRIs pack snacks back when they come to India, or request their travelling friends to carry that exquisite box of Kaju Katli or a jar of Aam-ka-achaar for them, but have to depend on friends’ travel plans. Well, one could also use Jib.li, an AirBnB of luggage, to get shipments through strangers, but it hasn’t picked up yet in India.
Welcome OyeChotu.com, an online store delivering Indian snacks to 20 countries around the world. Unlike the plethora of grocery eshops and food ordering websites, OyeChotu delivers snacks like savouries (namkeen) and sweets, Indian mouth freshners and pickles, spices and chutneys.
Founded by Ruchita Shah, and based in Ahmedabad, OyeChotu delivers snacks to countries like the US and the UK, Singapore, Thailand, and China, most of the European nations, and a few in the Middle East. They accept payments in US Dollars, UK Pounds, and Indian Rupees, and air-ship within 3-5 days. They also deliver these snacks within India, and also have an online food ordering system in Ahmedabad, a la JustEat and many others.
The strategy of OyeChotu.com is to provide unique and differentiated products hard to find in its authentic form abroad. Ruchita mentions,
“Niche products is the underlying strategy that underpins that fact that even the Pav Bhaji Masala from OyeChotu.com will be very different than what you get from Badshah & Everest. Also, the namkeens are varied and we have looked into bringing together the varieties from across India.”
OyeChotu.com shortlists the vendors from India who provide differentiated food products under various categories like etc, and sources products from them. A QA team tests the products so procured to maintain consistency. Delivery is facilitated through partnered delivery networks. Most of the food items available on the site are non-perishable, so that the time taken in international delivery does not impact them. They also have their own set of ready-to-eat snacks that cannot be pre-made and preserved. All items are sourced from vendors at the time of order so that manufacturing dates are kept intact.
A downside of the service is the exorbitant delivery charges, sometimes exceeding the order price itself, though it is somewhat understandable because the items are sourced in India and then shipped, and these items would be a rarity abroad. What is striking is that the shipping charges are very high even within India. Here is what Ruchita says about the delivery charges:
All shipping charges are based on (i) The total weight ordered (ii) Items ordered. For orders less than 5 kgs customers will feel that delivery prices are high but thats the same case if you order anything from India for delivery overseas. On OyeChotu.com for orders above 5 kilos in countries such as UK, UAE the delivery charges become zero. Charges for India are being revised. We did not expect many orders from India but are surprised with the volumes we receive from India itself.
Here is a small conversation with Ruchita Shah, the founder of OyeChotu.com:
Don’t you have to face issues with the customs of all those countries?
No, not yet. Issues in terms of quality & products are not faced yet as we keep it rest assured that quality and taste are best in class. Delivery issues occur at times but are resolved as we work under the constraints of delivery.
While I see that most of the stuff you deliver is non-perishable, do you add preservatives?
The products lasts for a min of 7 days to max days dependent on the product. The products are chosen accordingly.
How big is the team? Where are you based? Where are your delivery locations/storehouses?
The team is of 15 people all work from home. We do not store any food items.
Which are the top three countries you receive orders from?
China, Thailand, and UAE.
The minimum food to be ordered is 2 kgs now. Your FAQ section says it is 5 kg. Looks like you’ve revised the limit now. Was 5 kg actually too much?
we encourage customers to order 5Kgs and more so that their delivery charges are minimal or zero. But we do want that customers who only want certain order quality can also order on oyechotu.com
When did you start your operations? How has the traction been so far? How many orders do you get on an average in a week?
Operations started on 15th Aug. We have seen great response. People have shown great interest in the differentiated and unique products. There are on an average 3-4 orders per week in last 2 months since inception.
A word on marketing and publicity. Reaching out to Indians spread across in small packets around the world may not be so easy.
Yes, its difficult. But online marketing is the main tool being used.
Very interesting e-store, OyeChotu.com can be the destination site for Indians residing abroad, craving for Indian snacks, given the right amount of reach. If you are an NRI and miss those tasty Indian snacks, shout out OyeChotu and let us know how delicious they actually are.