When Abhishek Sayam started his own online shopping portal in 2013, with products including books, apparel and electronics, he struggled to keep up with the local giants, Amazon and Flipkart. Needing to differentiate his business, in 2017 he decided to focus just on books — but with a twist.
“After months of research, I came up with the unique concept of selling books online by weight and not MRP,” says Abhishek.
That’s how Books By Kilo, which delivers preloved books to readers’ doorsteps, was born in April 2018. The business also has a store in Navi Mumbai.
“Today, when the habit of reading is dying, we want people to rediscover reading,” says Abhishek. “We have seen temporary book exhibitions, which sell books by weight and shops that sell preloved books at low prices. But the books there are of poor quality or pirated. Our offering solves all the downsides of making good quality books available to readers easily and at an economical price.”
The six-member team uses the WhatsApp Business app to connect with over 1,500 customers.
“From updating the order status, getting reviews and ratings, informing users about offers and discounts, and handling inquiries and orders, WhatsApp Business has helped immensely,” says Abhishek. “WhatsApp Business creates a positive connection between us and the customers by creating a distinct identity from the informal messaging platform. This separate space helped us interact more effectively with customers and understand their needs. This helped increase sales by 30 to 40 percent.”
Additionally, Books By Kilo halved customer service and marketing costs, and, in less than a year, it has grown from 25 customers to 2,500+ customers.
“Currently, our biggest challenge is to get funds to promote our business,” says Abhishek. “WhatsApp has given us the option to promote without any additional cost. Features like automated greeting message, away message, and quick replies have also been very useful for us.”
From the early days of trying to compete with Amazon and Flipkart to its current rapid growth, Abishek is helping Indians rediscover their love of reading, one book — and kilo — at a time.