Jitendra Rawal , Head of Operations tells us about how his first brush with e-commerce and early youtube fame as a poster boy for one of the ecommerce platforms. He discusses the last 75 days of operating under lockdown. Jitendra has become the voice of Frendy – appearing as spokesperson for the company on the extended media coverage interest that we have generated in the last month with over 7 appearances on television channels.
I have seen many ups and downs in my life. I belong to a professional photographer family and my family hails from the small town of Sirohi in Rajasthan. After I finished my education, I knew that I wanted to do something different. This search led me to try my hands at a variety of industries like Diamonds, Insurance, Apparels, Online Streaming Service, etc. Finally, in 2012 I came across the eCommerce industry and started selling on some of the online marketplaces. With online business, I felt I had found my true calling. I have worked with many well known consumer durables and FMCG brands until now. Amazon India even covered me for a seller story titled “Jitendra from Zero to Hero”. I truly believe that the Zero to Hero story had just started. I spent a few years at Beardo, where I led the operations team and helped literally ramp up from Zero to a Hero brand in about 2 odd years. However, I feel the real story started when I joined Frendy. The platform and freedom I got here, is what every professional dreams of. We kicked off operations with a small energetic team. We have gone through the real Zero to Hero journey here, starting from the fulfillment and stock issues when we kicked off operations in Sep 2019 with our continued efforts to keep operations going in this lockdown period.
Jitendra Rawal – From Zero to Hero – profile by Amazon of Dragon Deals.
Watch Now – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lkhiOfHgHw
I was featured in the News reports 7 times in the past 1 month, talking about our efforts at Frendy by making essentials available in the most convenient and value-effective way for our customers. This is a major highlight for me, as I am naturally camera conscious. I could overcome my inhibition and shyness with so much camera interaction. With Amazon’s story on my start-up, I was made a hero once. With Frendy it was 7 times
The lockdown has been another of those bumps in life and a real test of determination for our Operations team. We have been packing & delivering essentials without stopping services for even a single day, until there was a total curfew forced through the city. We have tried to bring smiles on the faces of our customers who were in distress. They were delighted to get essentials delivered on their doorstep during these testing times and we were grateful for being able to serve them to the best of our ability.
We faced several challenges during the Lockdown. During the first week of the lockdown, the app was shut. We worked with AMC to open up home deliveries and obtained e-passes for our delivery staff. The second challenge was making sure the teams were ready to deliver and that they could function without compromising their safety. I spoke to all of them one-on-one and assured them that all safety measures would be taken. Additional COVID insurance was taken for the entire delivery and warehouse team. Meanwhile, the procurement team secured PPE – including masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizers, etc.
We introduced the following safety features – temperature checks of all personnel, adequate PPE, Maintaining social distance at the warehouse between packing stations, Sanitizing all delivery packets. We also have an independent Hygiene Inspection Team (HIT) composed of some of our colleagues from other departments who would independently police that procedures were being followed. A daily report was made and was reported to the entire team.
As the rest of the team worked from home we had to put on our gear and get on the road. We started getting supplies into the warehouse but we understood from the procurement team that it was not easy and that supply chains were broken everywhere. Markets were shut. Suppliers promised and not delivered. We decided not to rely on vendor stock and did not sell any product unless it was in our warehouse.
Prior to the lockdown, COD was about 70-80% of the order volume. Handling cash was a hygiene challenge and so we decided to switch off COD. We faced a lot of resistance from customers, community leaders for whom the first purchase conversion was largely based on “Aap try karo. Jab saaman aayega tab paise de dena”. However, Safety was a priority and the consensus decision was to put Safety first.
Safety initiatives by our Delivery and Ops team
We created a buffer between the warehouse team and the delivery team. So the delivery team started operating from the largely empty office and were not allowed to visit the warehouse. Instead, packages were packed and then transferred and handed over at our office premises.
We fulfilled individual customer demands for products – someone would say could you pick up some Amul Milk on the way and deliver. It’s my husband’s birthday and he really loves dhokla and I want the ready-mix to make it for him, can you deliver today itself and we did it. Focus on Customers and Customers will bring you, customers. Our unique referral model was working. At the same time, we had customers who would not understand that we could not deliver to them as they were in a containment zone and would give us negative reviews. All the time we maintained focus without getting distracted by detractors. Many customers actually saluted us for delivering to them in this time of need.
Focus: Safety, Source, Pack Delivery: Repeat
They say it is better to have 100 customers who love you than 1000 that are just like you. The Frendy Ops Team is ready for any challenge and will continue to delight our customers so that there are 1000’s that love Frendy.
Even in these difficult times we are expanding our operations and moving into our new Warehouse a facility that will be able to handle 10x our current capacity and can be even further expanded. The team is raring to go.
In July we move into a new warehouse facility with 10x our current space and we are ready – Chalo bane Mein Se Hum. From Zero to Hero to now Frendy Super Hero!