BY SHRUTI KOTHARI
Enterprising couple Ektaa and Rachit Bhandia’s exciting online baby boutique, Baby Swag, brings the best the world has to offer, right to your doorstep.
Shopping for babies can be exhausting. Either you’re shopping for someone else’s kids, in which case, you don’t know what they already have, or you’re pregnant, in which case, browsing through, choosing, and then lugging around piles of stuff is painful, or you’ve already got kids, and they’re screaming and kicking through your shopping experience. Enter Baby Swag, an online platform which allows you to shop in peace from the comfort of your own home. Rachit Bhandia opens up about his and Ektaa’s foray into the world of e-commerce.
Tell us about yourselves! What are your backgrounds?
I grew up in Bangkok but then went to Symbiosis International University in Pune to earn my BBA. I came back right after to join the family business in diamonds and jewellery, but was always looking for something to do in addition to push me out of my comfort zone. Ektaa is a Mumbai girl at heart, but moved to Bangkok after we got married. She trained and worked as a teacher, but the hours were long and exhausting, so she wanted something with a little more flexibility. She works as a tutor now, so she has time to manage Baby Swag as well.
How did you get the idea for Baby Swag?
I was always interested in how the e-commerce world works, and I saw one of my close friends doing well in that field. Another aspect that piqued my interest is that we love to travel as a couple, so a field in which we could work from any corner of the world made a lot of sense. I spoke to Ektaa, and since she loves kids, we thought it would be perfect to do something that deeply interests us both. That’s how Baby Swag came about!
Without any training in e-commerce, how did you begin to build your company?
To be honest, it’s a long process. First, we spoke to our friend, who was extremely helpful; he explained how the e-commerce market works, and he’s been our constant motivator since then. Besides that, we watched a lot of e-commerce videos, conducted plenty of product research, designed the website. We tried to understand the importance of timing things correctly, worked on customer service systems, and so on. The list is endless!
Baby Swag has been really successful! What made it do well?
First, we always try to launch unique products. Second, we are able to send products like a single pacifier to Mexico and still be profitable. And lastly, it is our passion for this company and the constant drive to improve.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced?
Definitely juggling the family business, going to school for Ektaa, and running an online store. We underestimated the amount of time and effort this kind of venture takes!
In terms of the business, what was the biggest customer service issue you faced?
One of our products once got stuck in customs! They couldn’t contact the client, so we had to communicate on behalf of both parties, all in a foreign language! We managed to resolve the issue pretty quickly, though.
“But the biggest compliment is when a customer comes back to us for a new product”
Where are most of your customers from?
We get orders from across the globe, but most frequently from the Middle East, Mexico, and Argentina.
What were some of the most unexpected aspects of e-commerce?
Because we run a global, online store, we’re always open. Sometimes we need to respond to customers, in a foreign language, at 4am! Our sleep hours have gone down, and our screen time has gone up. Sometimes marketing platforms are down, which really affects our sales.
What has been some of the nicest feedback you’ve received from customers?
That the product is better than they expected, or that their kids love the product, or the delivery was speedy. But the biggest compliment is when a customer comes back to us for a new product.
How do you ensure the products are of a high quality?
The factories send us samples of every single product before we approve them for our website, and then our agent verifies each product before sending it to the client.
What are your most popular items?
The Swimming trainer, Kick and walk piano, Smart train dominos, Baby beach tent with mini pool, and Swag spelling game.
What advice do you have for people looking to start e-commerce businesses?
Don’t let the grunt work discourage you! The effort you put in will surely pay off. Strive for consistency, and be very clear in terms of what you want to deliver to the consumer.
What’s it like to work together as a couple?
Baby Swag is as good as nurturing a baby for us. While I take care of making the videos, monitoring the ads, or fixing any technical issues, Ektaa works on the process of ordering, and replying to customers, and so on. We divide our work and are able to rely on each other, respect each other’s opinions, and learn from one another. The best part is that we get to share in the joy of every sale!
What are your plans for the future?
Our dream is to see our products in every nook and corner of the world, and hence, we are launching another concept store called Uncommoncart.com.
To learn more about Baby Swag, check out www.babyswaag.com, or their Instagram @baby.swg