Technology one stop for office supply

Those who sell office supplies to India’s professionals have rarely behaved in a very professional manner, but as online vendors increase their presence Grandpa’s stationary shop may finally be forced to shape up or ship out. Recognizing the fact that India Inc. desperately lacks decent office supply vendors, Arvind Sivdas and Siddharth Nambiar created, a one-stop shop for office needs built by professionals for professionals. During the conception of OfficeYes, the two co-founders, who are also both managing directors, considered the many woes of dealing with the traditional Indian stationary vendor.

According to Sivdas and Nambiar, they found the inevitable “negotiating” and haggling to be an inconvenient waste of valuable time, and the insufficient product variety didn’t help matters. They also counted the utter lack of clarity in payment and tax structure as another source of pain which in turn is exacerbated by inflated prices.

Commenting on what makes OfficeYes a strong competitor, Sivdas said, “Our technology allows us to have the largest range of office supplies, customised products and corporate gifts in one easy-to-order website. We deliver office products rapidly via a world-class operations infrastructure and offer free delivery above minimum order size.”

He then added, “By aggregating demand and negotiating discounts with major suppliers, we are able to provide the best value to our customers on office supplies and furniture.”The co-founders said that talent acquisition, which initially was their biggest challenge, has now become their greatest asset. Elaborating on the matter, Sivdas went on to say, “Encouraging the best people to make a change and join a new organization is never an easy task, and attracting top talent to leave behind stable jobs and join a start-up is even harder, but we’ve done an amazing job of putting together an incredibly talented team. We have ex-McKinseys, Oxford MBAs, top IIT graduates and the best talent in web-design, marketing, product and more.”

When asked about lessons learned along the way, Sivdas and Nambiar emphasized that one should never compromise on building a great team.The idea of selling office supplies online isn’t unique, competitors such as the American office supply giant, Staples, have been doing it for years. But doing it in India, and getting it right, is something else entirely. This is where OfficeYes puts its American rival to shame.

To be fair, Staples provides its American customers with a user friendly and highly informative website featuring a huge variety of superior quality products. However, we’re talking about the needs of Indian customers and that’s where Staples goofed up, badly. Take the two drawer filing cabinet for example. features a reasonably good photo and a few details of the two drawer filing cabinet offered, along with the price. At Staples,in theMNC has failed to provide pictures or even a detailed description of the filing cabinet and neglected to mention the price. An Indian customer who wishes to make an online purchase should not have to telephone the company, struggle with regional language barriers and wait forever to get a price quote. That defeats the purpose of online shopping.

Referring to the competitive environment, Sivdas said, “We have a number of direct competitors but they have little to no online presence and will not be able to compete with the service offerings of an e-commerce player in this market. In addition, we stand out by our uncompromisingly data-driven approach to understanding what our customers want and giving it to them at the highest standard. Our technology and marketing teams work hard to build sophisticated predictive algorithms to segment our customer base and predict what products they will like. None of our competitors can come close to matching us in this.”

Sivdas spoke further on the company’s success and future plans, “We now have a great website, our operations team is delivering pan-India at rapid pace and our sales team is already out capturing the accounts of large blue chip companies such as GE, HCL and Tata Teleservices, as well as thousands ofother SMB businesses across India. My future plans entirely revolve around growing into India’s biggest e-commerce website for businesses.”

As transparent and streamlined office supply options increase, perhaps Indian professionals can finally boycott tedious traditional vendors who refuse to improve.

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Tracy Venkatesh

Tracy Venkatesh

Tracy Venkatesh has spent twenty years working and interacting with a socioeconomically diverse population in both the private and public sectors, and has held positions in multiple verticals including content development, healthcare, customer relations management, defense and law enforcement.

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