2 years of Satthwa celebrated with a new shampoo launch

Hard to believe that it was a little over 2 years back when I thought of selling the hair oil I had formulated and launched a new cosmetic brand – Satthwa. Within the last 2 years, we launched a few essential oils and jojoba oil but I always wanted to launch a shampoo which would complement our hair oil.

Once of the biggest challenge is this line of work is, finding the right manufacturing partner. This is one of the major reasons why I could not launch shampoo much before, another reason is that with every product which we launch, we want to be 100% sure of its efficacy. I see no point in launching products if they do not solve a problem. Over the years, people have started moving away from applying cosmetics for the sake of applying to applying to solve an issue.

In the case of shampoo, from day one, we recommended people use our hair oil with a sulfate / paraben free shampoo, which meant that when we launched our own shampoo, not only does it need to be SLS / paraben free but it also needs to have additional qualities which help your scalp and hair. The research on our shampoo, it literally took six months. We wanted to include some premium oils into the shampoo as well, Argan oil, Avocado Oil, Botanical Keratin etc, these all have restorative and healing properties for scalp. I have seen other brands launch 10 new products in 6 months time frame and here we were still researching on just one!

Never the less, we launched the Satthwa argan oil shampoo almost a month back and the feedback has been amazing on it. Not just our friends and family loved it but we got super unbiased feedback from the blogger community as well.

Just today when I was doing my usual research, I happened to come upon a website and was pleasantly surprised to see that our shampoo is has got the #1 spot for the best argan oil shampoos in India. Feels good to know that our hard work is paying off!

best argan oil shampoo in India

Unanswered questions on Paytm’s digital gold?

Digital Gold by Paytm

Been hearing a lot of advertisements on Paytm Digital Gold on radio in the last few days, possibly because of Akshay Tritiya. I decided to look at their scheme, more closely at their terms and conditions and there seem to be a couple very important questions which need to be addressed.

Question 1. Since a customer can buy digital gold which they can at any time redeem into real gold and have it delivered to them, what is the kind of ratios Paytm / MMTC would be maintaining for this.

E.g, If I buy 1 gram of digital gold, would Paytm instruct MMTC to keep 1 gram of real gold under my account in their vault or would they be keeping just a fraction? Now let’s assume 10,000 people buy 100 KG of digital gold collectively. Would MMTC be keeping 100 KG as deposit or would be be keeping just a % of the deposit.

This question is important because Gold is not an infinite resource, even government and banks long back moved to Fiat currency because they could no longer be able to keep the equivalent stock in gold. This questions becomes even more important when there is an emergency and people want to keep their assets close to them and all of a sudden a lot of people want to convert their digital gold into real gold… would Paytm / MMTC be able to supply the gold on time if at all?

Question 2: The second biggest question would be that if Paytm / MMTC are just keeping a fraction of your digital gold investment in real gold then what are they doing with the remaining money? Is it kept safe in an escrow account or do they have the permission to use it however they like.. e.g advertising a whole lot more to get even more digital gold customers?

Both the above questions are extremely important as this ensures or does not ensure the safety of your investment. Before you invest in such schemes, I would encourage you to read Paytm’s policy and other details.

Problems with Indian ecommerce marketplaces, especially Flipkart

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I had initially signed up with Amazon.in to sell the Satthwa products but unfortunately after endless paperwork and nonsensical rules which Amazon follows (Only in India), I had to give up selling on Amazon.

Then I started selling on Flipkart and till a few days the experience had been good. Satthwa is a Silver level seller on Flipkart which means that we go good business, our returns are next to nothing, our products are loved by those who buy and we ship out almost the same day of the order. Our Metrics is topnotch.

So where is the problem? The problem arises when Flipkart does not think of the sellers as their “customers”. Technically in a marketplace model, we the sellers, sell to the end user and they are our customers. For market places which as Flipkart and Amazon, we the sellers are their customers. If this is the case then the same rules should apply to both set of customers, right? No! They don’t.

Let me elaborate. If a end user who just bought something from Flipkart calls their customer support, their query is handles on priority, customers can even cancel a product on the day it is to be delivered without any cost to them. Where as for a seller, Flipkart take their own sweet time to resolve a query.. if at all they manage to do that. Most of the time, they mark the tickers as resolved after a few days and the seller keeps waiting for the reply.

Today because of some “technical issue” (which is a fancy word for an idiot sitting in front of a computer) one of my listings was blocked and i have been on call since the morning.. whenever i requested to talk to a senior person, i was told they are not available…

My account has been assigned a account manager but what’s the point when the account manager phone always goes unanswered?

Sellers are the backbone for such online marketplaces and we also want to be treated with the same respect as would any customer.

Launching the 2nd product under brand Satthwa

Back in 2016, almost exactly around this time I was working on launching the Satthwa Premium Hair oil.

Since that was my very first product launch, I did not keep my expectations high, knowing very well that I was going to compete with the biggies in one of the most competitive categories.

It has now been a year since the launch, the sales and feedback Satthwa hair oil have got from the users has FAR exceeded my wildest dreams. I am very grateful for the same.

Within this one year, there were many times when I was told that in order for a brand to “succeed”, you need multiple products and though I think that this might be true to a certain extent, back then I did not want to divide my bandwidth by launching multiple products.

Launching multiple products and hoping that each generates enough sales to sustain the business is a bad idea in my opinion. I want all my products to be the star products in their respective category because so much learning and research goes into each.

I really don’t see the point of launching a run of the mill brand, there are plenty of those already.

Since the last few months, I have been researching on other products. Something which complements the hair oil as well. This got me to researching on Essential Oils and the first choice for the launch was Lavender Essential oil.

Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to any carrier oil helps in blood circulation on the scalp and apart from this, lavender oil has so many other benefits as well. Not to forget, this is an excellent oil for aromatherapy.

So without further ado, Satthwa Lavender Essential Oil has now been launched!

Amazon India & differential sellers policy

Update (04/4/16): Amazon India did not budge and hence I gave up on them, at least for the time being. Chose to concentrate my energies on Flipkart, where we are listed and kicking!

Update (23/3/16): Shortly after writing this article, I wrote to Amazon’s Chairman Jeff Bezos and appraised him about the situation. I am happy to say that he has instructed the executive seller support team to look into this matter. Hope to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible so that i can get selling on Amazon India!

Amazon Indian SellersAs you know that I launched my new Health / Beauty product startup “Satthwa” less than a couple months back and the response has been great! We gave out free samples of our Premium Hair Oil to a lot of people (selected from a contest on Facebook) and we are happy to say that the results they have achieved have increased our sales from word of mouth.

Currently all our sales come from our own website https://satthwa.com but I wanted to put our product on Amazon.in as well and hence we started the process of getting it listed on it.

Usually anyone can just create an account on Amazon as a seller and get selling within an hour, especially if the product they want to sell is already listed on Amazon. In our case, we were going to sell in the category “Beauty” which is a restricted category and need a few days before Amazon manually approves new sellers on it. Along with that we also wanted to register our brand “Satthwa” with Amazon as we are the owners of the brand and this gives us more control over it.

The process took a couple weeks and finally after all the documentation, we were able to list our product and to be on the safer side, we wanted to tweak our listing and make it accurate / credible before we formally announced our foray on Amazon, turns out this wait was a blessing as just a couple days into the listing, Amazon decided to remove our product without any warning. After contacting the seller support agent, I got to know that they think we are in violation of their terms as our listing mentions “Hair Fall Control”, “Hair Regrowth Oil” terms.

Now how do we sell our regrowth hair oil, without mentioning what exactly it does? Though i understand the position of Amazon that there could be a lot of “brands” trying to mislead people by selling their products under false pretexts but that’s what Amazon reviews are for, if a product gets enough bad reviews, they should take it off the shelf. However taking an approach like this from the get go, pushes back genuine sellers. In a country like India where the government does enough damage to make sure that companies have a tough time starting up, we surely do not need a private company who is a “ecommerce enabler” to hold us back.

As for the Amazon policies, I have seen that it varies from seller to seller. If there is a product which is selling a lot with a lot of reviews. Amazon let’s them bend or even break their rule when it comes to the “Claims” & “Guarantees” which the brand makes, however for those who are new to selling have to abide by different rule set.

This is what precisely a market place should not do. It creates unwarranted monopoly of bigger brands and good smaller brands keep fighting to stay afloat.

With so much money being pumped by Amazon into advertising and getting new sellers on board, I certainly hope for equality in policies amongst many other things!