In January, I found myself at my orthopedics' office for the 3rd time in 12 months complaining about unbearable back & neck pain which were not only limiting my movement but also leading to sleepless nights. Obviously, concerned about my frequent visits, he did an array of tests that revealed that it was nothing serious. So, he inquired further into my daily habits, activities, time spent on the computer and so on. After giving all the information that I had given him some serious thought, he concluded that the issue could be the mattress and pillow that I was using. He surmised that these items had most likely lost their firmness and suggested that I should change them immediately. Little did I know that this exercise would take me from the outskirts of Bangalore to the ports of Kolkata and open my eyes to a rapidly growing industry and proof that Indian consumers were growing up.
The first company that hit my eye was a company that had (at that time) over 1000 reviews on Amazon, with 95+% of those being a 4-star rating or higher. I assumed that 1 out of 10 people will actually go online and rave about a company (1 out of 3 will do it if it is a negative feedback) which meant that this company had sold close to at least 10,000 mattresses on Amazon alone! The average product price was around Rs. 15,000 so this company should have done 15 crores in sales online (the number is much higher than that) but, the best part of my research was finding out that the company had not raised any external funding. This sleeper hit of a company is Wakefit, founded by Ankit Garg and Chaitanya Ramalingegowda.
In a recent interview, they predicted that their 2-year-old startup would exceed $5 million in sales for FY2018. This is an impressive number for a nascent startup with no retail presence at all. I reached out to Vinod and Dhiral on my team, and with my initial findings and our combined brain power, we were able to identify 5-6 other companies that were selling mattresses online. I decided to visit each one and although it took longer than expected, I got into their warehouses, offices, and factories and had the chance to speak with each founder. While most parts of those conversations are confidential, their stories and experiences confirmed the increasing comfort of Indian e-commerce customers to make large ticket purchases online.
Not just that, but they have even become comfortable purchasing goods from brands that they haven’t previously heard of and are willing to pre-pay for the same (these companies do not provide COD). This entire exercise served as an eye opener for the AVF team and I, concerning the Indian consumer. We realized that the Indian e-commerce buyer is becoming more and more confident to make purchases of over 10,000 rupees (except mobile phones) online. Going forward, we are actively reaching out to product startups with larger ticket sizes since we feel that this could be the next wave of e-commerce purchases and that has already hit us or is about to.
I did end up buying a mattress and pillow set from Wakefit, as a mystery shopper and it has been 2 months since they delivered and installed my new mattress. It is safe to say, that I won’t be visiting my orthopedic for back or neck pain any longer.