RPSG Group's Shivika and Shashwat Goenka, founders of The Gift Studio. RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group’s (RPSG) retail arm, Spencers Retail acquired Godrej’s Nature’s Basket in July 2019 for Rs 300 crore. And in October 2020, Shashwat Goenka, sector head of RPSG’s retail and FMCG business, along with his wife Shivika, vice president of Quest Mall, have made the premium food store the launchpad of their new online and offline gifting platform, The Gift Studio. The duo ventured into the mostly unorganised $30 billion gifting market in India with 120 products and hampers, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000. The curation includes flowers, gourmet food, gadgets, art and fashion products. They also have a line of hampers curated by fashion and art celebrities including actor Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, artists Bose Krishnamachari and Paresh Maity and fashion designer Anamika Khanna. These are currently retailed at Nature’s Basket outlets in Mumbai and Kolkata, and from The Gift Studio’s website. Why did the Goenkas launch a gifting portal in a pandemic? Shashwat Goenka takes us through the journey. Edited excerpts: Q. What spurred you into the gifting solution business? We found white space in the curated gifting market in India. We wanted to create a platform that is easy and intuitive to use, so that customers can pick thoughtful, valuable, personalised and unique gifts quickly. There is also a huge gap in what you see and what you get, in terms of standard and satisfaction, on most websites. We had a starting point with gifting through our Nature’s Basket stores and we want to build on that digitally and expand the gifting offering. Q. From working in the brick-and-mortar retail setup for so long, how was the transition into the online space? How did the pandemic affect your plans? The transition was relatively smooth because we were launching just when the audience needed customised gifting the most, owing to the pandemic. We believe that the online gifting market will grow and people will move to this no-touch mechanism to express their love. The festive season is a good time for the market, which is why we decided to launch in October. Q. Tell us about the strategy behind the celebrity curations… Apart from the hampers we’d already curated, we wanted to offer some limited-edition boxes curated by people who have an impeccable sense of art and style. Bose Krishnamachari and Paresh Maity are reputable artists who do complete justice to design. With Sonam, we’ve had a long-standing relationship. She happens to be our first customer as well. She wanted to give her family something special in the festive season and while she was picking her hampers, the 'Handpicked by SK' hamper took shape. A gourmet hamper curated by fashion designer Anamika Khanna includes vegan and gluten-free foods, along with exotic teas. Q. Where do you see The Gift Studio five years from now? The market for gifting in India is massive and the opportunities are endless. In five years, we plan to expand our reach to all major cities of India. We are also going to get into corporate and wedding gifting. On the website, a digital concierge service is on the cards. Q. What according to you are the most important aspects of online marketing? Search engine optimisation and marketing, and social media marketing. A business must ensure that their online platforms provide quality content that is both informative and engaging. Engaging with the right opinion leaders digitally is crucial. Q. What business advice would you give young internet entrepreneurs? Follow through with your vision and have the courage of conviction. Believe in yourself and use data as your strongest ally to make decisions.
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