An Alarming Situation (2017)
With shops not allowing us foot in, our plans to enlarge footprint were on hold. we had about 200 overflow control alarms (OCA) lying in store. But the problem was not devices in store but our investment into plastics moulds (die sets). We needed to sell in thousands to cover those costs. But as then in 2017, we had only two shops selling.
While we were trying to find a way, we kept track of devices sold from two shops. We got to know we needed to make some improvements. We made those improvements, thinking more about our mastery being at stake then about sales. Recalled overflow alarms back from shops and gave them improved devices with water sensors. In few months it was clear, its all well, technically at least. But the question still stood - what next? Will we be making water level alarms and automation for few shops only?
We tried selling on e-bay but there was not much sale and we found that we had one major problem in selling online. We did not have working sales tax number (then called VAT number) which was key to sell online. Our struggle to get sales tax number is another story. But yes, corrupt Punjab tax officials did not allow us to take our product online for almost 2 years. But then in July-2017 India government launched GST. In September, I applied for tax number on my own, and got GST number in a week. GST brought freedom from a flawed and fraud tax system prevalent then.
So now , we had regular GST number and were good to go. And we also knew, ebay was not the way to go.
In December 2017, opened account on AMAZON and listed our overflow control alarm (OCA) as our first product. Got 2-3 orders per week, till end of march 2018. Being new into online selling, I wanted to get a workable grip on selling online (on amazon) and also wanted to have gut feeling that this is this is way to go. On the learning curve we needed to improve our product packaging. But good quality bubble wrap was not found in Patiala. We bought waste sponge from local furniture shops and cut them to small pieces, for use as packaging support. Products started to reach buyers in good condition. One guy wrote "packaged to stand avalanche". Good ratings and reviews started trickling in.
By end of march 2018 we knew, AMAZON is the way to go. Soon we learned its not just a way to go but a "highway". Yes, a highway, offering high speed selling and all the risks associated with it. Well, our adventures on "selling highway" called AMAZON were surely an eye opener to us. Get set for the high speed "Alarm On The Highway"