The tea market has drastically changed over the couple of years. From a country known as the tea drinking nation, India is giving a tough competition to the coffee café format by setting up an innovative trend of its home grown ‘Chai’ players.
“There is no single organised player in India's Rs 33,000-crore chai market and Chai Point targets white-collar workers across the country who are fast on technology and love the new experience of sipping tea”, says Amuleek Singh Bijral, CEO & Founder, Chaipoint.
In an interview with Restaurant India at the FICCI Annual Summit ‘MASSMERIZE’ Bijral shares what it takes for him to stay ahead in the game.
When did the ‘CHAI’ journey start for you?
After having worked in the technology sector for so many years, I was keen to build a consumer brand, started looking for opportunities. And we stood out because the Chai sector is indeed a large one and there was no brand around that category.
Today, the Chai segment has a lot of brands around it and the competition is tough. Still, how do you manage to stay ahead in the game?
We are fundamentally in the ritual business which means that this is a product which will be successful if we have top notch quality and more importantly, that quality is consistently good all the time. Our focus on quality and consistency is the key for our business. That is exactly what we are paranoid about and we hope to continue this ritual and be around for several more decades.
Considered as one of the biggest disrupters in the tea segment, how do you map to scale this business with your future plans?
Fundamentally, we are an Omni channel brand, essentially because we want to reach out to our target customers and that is a white colour segment in as many ways as possible. Our expansion plans are about increasing our growth across these channels. We plan to build more stores, with new concepts of delivery, figuring out more about innovative concepts for this segment.
All these sectors considering the size of the market are very nascent. We are at a very early stage, so by focusing on all of these factors we have a huge potential to grow.
Where your initial challenges in this growing segment?
We are relatively a small company. This market is very large. We have been focused on the basics even though we operate in multiple channels. Our fundamental value of quality and consistency and remaining focused on the customer is primal for us.
Chai Point wasn’t a novel concept in that sense but our aim was to take chai to a massive level. The challenge we faced initially was more to do with the mindset of the junior employees working with us. They had apprehensions about being labeled as chai walahs. We spent substantial resources in employee engagement programmes to instill confidence in them.
What will you attribute to the success of your brand?
Most people among us consume tea at least 2-3 time a day, it’s a habit. We love chai so much that we at times even compromise on quality. At Chai Point our aim is to refine the offering – the experience of having chai. Good quality and warm chai, just when you want it. Chai-on-call brought with it a path-breaking, core innovation – the heat-retaining disposable flask. The flask retains heat for 45-60 minutes. A large chunk of our consumers may have never entered out retail outlet but their transactions with us are high.
Each time we set up a new outlet, a large percent of our investment goes in to technology. A robust delivery system backed by technology is the key to our offering. As a result, we didn’t suffer due to demonetization. Our online and wallet transactions increased during those days. Initially, we’d have busy weekdays but now we are witnessing chai being ordered by customers at home on weekends as well.
Tell us about your expansion plans.
We plan to open 30-40 stores e every year. We don’t have any franchisees. We want to build only company operated stores.