SRINGAR: Two young entrepreneurs have embarked on an ambitious journey to change the centuries old face of Kashmir’s retail market. Nabeel Kamili and Hazik Beigh have taken the so far untrodden path of e-commerce in this part of the world to tap the high potential but unorganized retail market by delivering at people’s doorsteps.
Taking innovative approaches, the duo has launched an online portal to address the needs of Kashmiri consumers “from A to Z, which the big companies operating from big cities can neither understand nor provide”.
“If we see the retail market in Kashmir is very unorganized and haphazard even we can say unprofessional. We are only for the Valley customers to offer our services through our website. Every product which would be needed for a common Kashmiri we will offer them at their door steps so they will not have to wander from one place to another,” says Kamili, 25, who is the founder of the online portal, Zezoy.com.
“If we see other e-commerce websites which offer their services in Kashmir are generalized in nature, they don’t understand the Kashmiri market. But we will give varied options based on our customers’ demands,” co-founder of Zezoy Beigh adds. “We are definitely going to revolutionize the retail market of the Valley with the products ranging from A to Z in our services.”
So what will Zezoy.com give new to Kashmiri customers?
Beigh, a commerce bachelor claiming to have keen eye on the Valley market and had an extensive research about the local retail market and customer base and their requirements, says the company will provide high-end quality products to customers, who want the best available products in the market at their doorstep.
The two young entrepreneurs plan to give home delivery options for heavy products like furniture and home appliances which other e-commerce web portals don’t offer in Kashmir.
The company’s operations are Kashmir centric with distribution in Kashmir only, the duo stresses.
“We are not in any direct competition with any web portal. We have our target customers and we are hopeful we will be able to reach out to those customers in a very short period of time,” he says.
Beigh, 25, says in the new age of shopping, customer want all their shopping at one spot, thus Zezoy is offering that one spot shopping for the Kashmiri customers.
Beigh, who has an experience of working in a self incorporated partnership firm for around five years, says there are local customs and tastes which his company can easily address and cater to and to suffice almost every need they deal with numerous products exclusively meant for local population like electric blankets and barbeque grills, both fits the taste of Kashmir.
“We also want to cater to the local tastes where we have rich customs and traditions like gift sharing at many occasions like marriage or engagements or birthdays like gift basket and home kits. Our web portal will not remain confined to few things but break all the barriers to satisfy our local customer who are primarily from Kashmir,” says Kamili.
Zezoy.com is the first of its kind e-commerce portal which has return policy on any products without posing any questions to its customer and the product will be delivered within two-days time.
“We have return policy where we are not asking questions to our customers if they want to return the product which they may have ordered from us.” “Payments can be done with cash on delivery on every product with free shipping charges. And any debit or credit from any bank is accepted and net banking.”
The e-commerce portal, which is functional from some time now, will be formally launched soon.
“From June 2012 to September we did and extensive research about the market and the customers and launched the website business in a beta mode for friends and family members as a soft launch that we would know how successful it will be and what could be the challenges we may face while taking orders and delivering those also.
“Our operations will be formally launched in March this year with full throttle and will try to penetrate the market with our best services which we will offer to our valuable customers,” says Kamili.
Kamili and Beigh are equal partners in the venture.
“Idea was mine and that was shaped by Hazik (Beigh) with his skills and hard work.”
The company’s publicity strategy is to keep low with direct advertisement for the web portal but it will bank more on the social networking sites and social events and sponsorships to reach out to more and more people.
With services of some of the best courier agencies and their personal delivery people, the founders say they will deliver the products anywhere in the Valley. “Be it far off villages or towns, we commit to provide the goods wherever we will be asked to,” Beigh says.
Zezoy has multiple payment options, with credit and debit cards from all the companies and banks being accepted, besides through internet banking with most secure system in place. But above this, the company has kept cash on delivery option open for everyone.
Right now the size of the company is 12 members including Beigh and Kamili with all young and energetic staff.
“I believe ecommerce to be a flourishing industry and with more and more people going online, we want to provide the best services to the people of Kashmir,” signs off Beigh.
The Zezoy boys say that they have started with offering a new kind of shopping experience for the people of Valley and would continue to offer mix of tradition and innovation to people in future as well on the minimum possible prices.
With no funding from either the banks or any other government scheme, the two young entrepreneurs want to set an example of Kashmiri youth who, they believe, are capable of starting such innovative companies.
“We want to be very successful entrepreneurs to set an example of inspiration for our generation. I sincerely believe that there is huge potential in Kashmiri youth to be the global business leaders in various fields. Our society needs to promote entrepreneurship more than the governments,” says enthusiastic Kamili.
Beigh, who had a prosperous family business in which he had invested his five years with various responsibilities, says he has found a “dynamic and challenging” place at zezoy in which he fits well.
“I am still associated with my family business. I was able to do various works with the state government in power sector which were very challenging and were time bound eventually helped me to explore my strengths and work on my weaknesses too,” he says.
The two young entrepreneurs believe entrepreneurship needs more support being a massive scope for establishments of various businesses across the Valley.
“If we go by numbers there is an army of unemployed youth who need to be motivated to start their own ventures and start exploring options of entrepreneurship. We can’t bank on government jobs anymore,” opines Beigh.
Kamili, who hails from up town area of Srinagar city, did his B-tech in Telecommunications from SRM University in Southern Indian city of Chennai.
Kamili feels that after completing his engineering the world stood wide open for him despite giving up a job, which had fetched him fat bucks at Tata Consultancy Services.
“My first job did not satisfy me in terms of innovation and critical thinking,” he says.
He also had two brief stints with a Mumbai based web portal Zepo.in, which helps e-commerce startups, and also at his homeland in Crafted in Kashmir—another web portal for Kashmiri handicrafts.
“I got acquainted with the startup culture of Delhi, and later moved to Mumbai to work in a web company. But there was always the urge to work in Kashmir in the back of my head. With no prior experience of working in Kashmir, I took a job with a fairly new but vibrant luxury brand of Pashmina,” explains Kamili.
But ultimately he was able to realize his dream, when he and Beigh chipped in Rs 10 lakh, “a small amount in terms of such businesses” to start the Zezoy.com.
I want Zezoy.com to be an example for the youth who are capable of starting and running their ventures like this, but remain away from their dreams because of the fear of capital. I do not come from a business background. My parents are government employees. I want to be a very successful entrepreneur because I want to be that example and that inspiration. I sincerely believe that there is huge potential in Kashmiri youth to be the global business leaders in various fields.
I am thankful for the supportive family and friends. I urge all the parents to give their children at least one chance to run a business. Do not care about the outcome. Just allow them to try. Do not just support local entrepreneurship but promote it.
I chose entrepreneurship because I realized the need our state has in various areas of business, which remain untouched and I also wanted to change the trend and bring something new to the table.
We have started with offering a totally new kind of shopping experience for the people of the Valley and we will continue to offer mix of tradition and innovation to people in future as well on the minimum possible prices.
I believe e-commerce is a flourishing industry. With more and more people going online, we want to provide the best services to them.