Glancing at the humongous heaps of temple flowers forming large stretches in the holy Ganges, Ankit Agarwal experienced an epiphany of the harmful effects caused by the decaying flowers of the temple to the water bodies and the aquatic life. Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh known mostly for its temples lacks an organised flower waste management system that results in releasing the flowers directly to the water bodies.
Upon researching, Ankit found that over 8.4-tonne flowers grown using insecticides and pesticides made their way into the Ganga daily. The flowers, on decomposition, released CO2 depleting the oxygen levels in water and releasing toxic chemicals that came from the spraying of insecticides and pesticides.
Later in 2017, Ankit along with his friend Karan Rastogi developed a sustainable solution to fight the menace of temple flower waste by converting the flower waste into therapeutic incense sticks and incense cones with its innovative ‘flower recycling technology’.
Phool: Using Deep Tech to manufacture Fleather
With temple waste flowers as raw materials, Phool has developed ‘fleather’ that is India’s first bio-leather made using deep tech and research. Phool enjoys the first-mover advantage of becoming India’s first natural incense brand by taking the digital-first channel.
The road to becoming a D2C brand with Shopify
The incense market is large and fragmented with low entry barriers in India. Sensing this, Phool decided to plunge into the incense market with its product innovation such as incense wellness packs, incense gift boxes, DIY incense packs with fragrances as rare as lemongrass, patchouli, tulsi, citronella, etc.
It wanted to enjoy the first-mover advantage by becoming India’s first online D2C incense brand. Phool wanted to build its digital store on a platform that provides them with agility which made them choose Shopify as their e-commerce platform.
Phool is a D2C startup of incense sticks and cones that is manufactured using recycled temple flower waste.
How building an online store with Shopify has helped Phool?
The product portfolio of Phool comprises products made from temple flowers categorised under the collections – incense cones, incense sticks, vermicompost, DIY kits and gulaal. With Shopify, Phool could create collection pages on its digital store to make it easier for consumers to explore their product range.
Phool’s product portfolio was rare since usually incense sticks in India are for religious purposes whereas Phool wanted to position its product as incense sticks having therapeutic properties that freed the mind from stress and created an environment conducive to yoga and meditation.
Phool highlighted its product USPs using Shopify through comprehensive descriptions, usage of products and high-resolution product images to give the consumers a sense of what they could get by purchasing from this store. Shopify has customized Phool’s store product pages to connect its consumers to their stories.
As products on Phool are charcoal-free, organic and dipped in 100 percent natural essential oils, they ensured that every product page on the website portrayed and reinforced the same message with the feature of product labels.
Besides product messages, Phool has created a dedicated ‘Impact’ page on Shopify which explains the source of temple flowers, how incense sticks are manufactured, their usage, ingredients used and how purchasing these will help a certain section of women to become self-reliant, etc. The brand has included comprehensive FAQs and customer reviews on each page.
With ease, Phool could manage their website from Shopify. Whether it is about changing the design or adding a new page, it took only a day that does not demand a developer.
After building their online presence, Phool began witnessing a steady flow of orders placed on their Shopify store. To seamlessly manage and process the volume of orders, Phool pivoted to automate their back-end operations from a manual approach.
Automating backend office and order management on their Shopify Store with ezySlips
ezySlips is an app available on Shopify’s app store that provides an end-to-end returns process from approval to processing of returns using smart automation. It can also create reverse pickups, manage shipping labels, keep track of refunds and create exchange orders.
Phool integrated this application with its online store that helped save several hours of manual work and reduce human errors while managing operations seamlessly and without compromising the customer experience offered to the customers.
With ezySlips, Phool could allocate tracking numbers to the orders automatically based on weight, carrier to generate shipping labels in bulk, downloading invoices, GST invoicing for all types of discounts, products, etc. and GSTR reports. Automating these processes helped the brand to scale without worrying about any disruptions in operations.
ezySlips also enables Phool to keep track of all their shipments in one place that simplifies NDR (not delivered report) management and the end-to-end returns process.
ezySlips is an app available on Shopify’s app store that provides an end-to-end returns process from approval to processing of returns using smart automation.
Automating post-purchase communications
The lockdown stalled logistics and supply chain operations that delayed the orders. Phool realised it was necessary to develop an efficient communication system to address consumer concerns about their orders reaching on time or getting lost in transit. This increased the number of WISMO (where is my order) queries.
Resolving customer order issues consumed more time and resources that impeded the growth strategies of Phool. They integrated Shipway with their store to simplify the post-purchase communication with the customers.
Shipway is an app from the Shopify app store that enables businesses with proper real-time tracking updates and helps to notify the customer regarding their shipments via SMS, email and Whatsapp. Using Shipway, Phool was able to achieve two things to address the post-purchase anxiety of its customers:
- Shipway enabled setting up branded tracking pages to let customers track orders easily and on their own using their order numbers.
- Kept customers abreast about their orders in transit using automated email and SMS order status messages.
Proactive communications helped Phool build stronger relations with them. Since the time Phool launched its store on Shopify, it has covered a long journey building a loyal customer base for itself. Integration of smart automation with their digital store helped in its expansive reach and remain connected throughout the customer’s journey with the brand and creating a lasting impression.
Phool is not a run-of-the-mill venture, it is a social venture where it has offered full-time employment to 73 women belonging to the poor economic and social strata of the society who are now able to send their children to the school, meanwhile recycling more than 11000 tonnes of temple flower waste.