The central inspiration is to make available “alternate wellness products” to a large section of society. Mostly these products are manufactured in small women-self-help-groups, or my mom-pop shops, or small non-profits; even small companies; and some really large companies (such as Dabur, FabIndia, Patanjali Yog Peeth).
Giving access to markets in large cities in India to these small groups (and often with fantastic products) is the inspiration behind this portal. Ofcourse, we do not want to exclude larger brands, as they only help further the cause of large scale adoption and consumption of alternate products.
Nature of products
Ayurveda products by different brands; perishable and non-perishable organic foods; Bio-manures; Compost utilities; “difficult to find” books in various vernacular languages of India; “difficult to find” music from small and rural musicians and music companies; spiritual music and books;
Either one can “source” and become the “supplier” of such products and run the portal; OR, one can enable suppliers to have their own shops setup in a common marketplace under one brand.
It is the latter that is the proposed business model for this portal.
We want to enable such organizations to use this portal to setup:
- their own online shops (www.alternateproducts.com/naturally-pahadi :: all products with categories under which “Naturally Pahadi” has products should get listed here)
- consolidate all products under categories in the larger portal brand (www.alternateproducts.com/drinks/rhododendron/naturally-pahadi/ :: this is a category based view, leading the buyer to click on the detail page of Rhododendron drink sold by “Naturally Pahadi”)
Promotion of the brand/portal would be the goal of this business; while the suppliers’ business will be to sell their products using this brand.
Writing articles around each of these products – collaboratively (by the community) – would be a central goal of this portal. The more organizations write, the more their products are found on Google, and the more they sell.
The portal will charge a commission on each sale; and assist buyers in ensuring that the Sellers have shipped the goods and completed the order.
Magento (commercial version) – seems to have this. If it is affordable – then buy and implement it. If it is too expensive, or features are unavailable, then there could be two routes. Build and enhance Drupal; OR build and enhance in Magento.
I imagine “SOLR generated product views” being used with Drupal 7, to “zip” the portal browsing experience, as has now been implemented at http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in by Vivek Puri). This ofcourse, if Drupal 7 is to be used; if Magento – then am not sure if this zipping is possible or no.
Extensive “Reporting” would be made available for “seller”, for their own-orders. Different set of Reporting would be available for “portal admins” to ensure that the Sellers are shipping their orders in time, etc.
Initially, we’ll use PayPal/CCAvenue for Merchant Banking.
Payments would have to be routed to Seller and a commission routed to Portal owners. As far as i know, this can be done only using AmazonFP. For this a company has to be registered in the US, to utilize this service. If so, a company can be registered easily in the US for this sole purpose.
Sales and Marketing
The biggest challenge will be to bring Sellers onto the portal. We will have online demos available, and bring non-profits to help setup shop on behalf of local suppliers. They would be the only ones who could have capacity to organize packaging and shipping of products.
If a prototype can be created and the concept demonstrated, this is a business aptly suited for funding by Aavishkar or Ennovent, and such similar “social venture funds”. Rajneesh would be a great candidate for leading this portal as CEO, if we can get funding; and a great resource for helping acquire funding from these sources. Infact, with the sudden frenzy of E-Commerce companies suddenly getting funding the time for launching this product is ripe.