In the Press
A venture started in one
of the India cyber capitals, Hyderabad, giftagift.com has been making
news since inception. The sheer number of successful deliveries and
milestones achieved have been the topic of discussion, and a source of
inspiration, for contemporaries and competitors. Here are some
instances where we have been covered and honored by the media.
Deccan Chronicle, Friday, December 13, 2002. "Delivery Sans the Labour"
When interviewed by an up market publication recently, as to which of her husband's gifts she cherished the most, Anjali Tendulkar said that it was a diamond necklace the little master had sent to her on Valentine's Day. "Considering where he was at that point of time, -it could have taken a lot of effort to get it organised, which makes it so very special," she had told the journo. While one might brush it aside as yet another instance of over-indulgence by the rich, on the flip side, it shows how simple it has become to bring the world to your doorstep, all by the click of a few buttons.
From jewellery to cakes to home appliances, to air tickets, anything and almost everything that one requires for our day to day existence is just a phone call away. If you wake up only to remember in alarm that your doodhwala had to rush to his village to tend to his dying uncle, all you now need to do is call up your local departmental store and the milk is at the door. Says Sudha Seshadri who is with Satyam, "I'm usually too tired at the end of the day. I call up the store and within minutes, I have what I need."
Long hours at work and hectic lifestyles leave little time for people, more so for working people to attend to many an important chore, which if left undone, can turn one's life upside down. With ever-increasing demands, the shop owners too have extended their services to cater to the changing needs of their customers, by cutting down on the service, charges, hence making it a viable option for both the buyer and the seller. "It's -an exercise towards maintaining a better relationship with our customers. We offer free home delivery even for customers who live in other colonies," says Anil Kumar Agarwal of Dilip Grand Bazar, whose family runs departmental stores in Vijayanagar Colony and Masab Tank.
Though the .delivery could involve additional costs, the stores seem least bothered and is more focussed on the customer base it is able to cover. "We even deliver a single item.
After all, it's the customer satisfaction that is primary for us," says Srinivas Choudhary, zonal manager for Trinethra.
With working individuals having disposable incomes to spend, cross-cultural adaptations and increasing access to multiple modes of communication sources such as mobile phones and Internet, home deliveries have now become an accepted norm in most urban households. "Time being a constraint, an individual would rather spend quality time with one's family or self, instead of doing mundane things," says Subbaraman Iyer, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, Idea Cellular Limited. "That's the reason why we have come up with a single access code for our customers, which will give access to nine services, from Dial-a-Grocery to Dial-a-Ticket," says Iyer.
However, more than the cost free delivery, it's the service and' the comfort, of ordering something over the phone, is what lures many a client. "It's a major hassle to get dressed, drive and then find parking space. So what if you have to round off the bill, as long as it comes piping hot to your doorstep," says Stephen Thomas, assistant manager, Pizza Hut, Banjara Hills.
Says Dr Sudhakar Polasani, Chairman, Country Oven, who had pioneered the home delivery concept in Hyderabad, even before Internet came to India, "Our website says, 'With five dollars, you can send your love, affection and emotion.' We never put in the word gift and that clicked." Now, their services are spread within the country and. overseas and they deliver everything from cakes to home appliances to jewellery.
But are the customers always satisfied with the commodities, with or without paying a premium? "Customer is God in the service Sector. The moment he or she is unhappy, we immediately replace it without further questions," smiles Dr Sudhakar.
While there are many who continue to remain sceptical about the concept, for many urban, employed individuals, hard-pressed for time, home delivery 'is something that has changed their way of living forever!!
The Economics Times, Hyderabad - Wednesday 14th April, 1999. "Cyber cakes will now be available in Hyderabad too"
COUNTRY Oven, a Hyderabad
based technology-driven bakery, has become India's first online
bakery taking orders on the Internet and delivering it in
specified areas. The bakery has extended the ordering facility
to residents abroad, who now have a unique way to greet their
friends and relatives in Hyderabad.
Using shopping carts and credit verification techniques, Country
Oven provides the Natives around the world the facility to
virtually savor the delicacies offered by Country Oven
(www.giftagift.com), order online and pay using international
credit cards. The bakery sends confirmation to the sender after
delivery. The price being charged varies from $5.99 to $24.99
for cakes weighing between one kg and three Kgs. Dr. Sudhakar
Rao, the promoter of Country Oven, said that their New Jersey
office enables the bakery to process the transactions in US
dollars and earns valuable for foreign exchange for the country.
Dr. Rao said that given the number of NRIs from Andhra Pradesh,
it is a good way to reach out to their friends and relatives.
The bakery is also planning to extend the facility to other
major towns and spread the delivery network to all the metros.
Expanding the range of products to include flower bouquets,
sweets, gifts and greeting is on the anvil. The concept of
'send-a-cake' and the technology of credit card processing are
in vogue abroad. Being introduced for the first time in India,
the site in hosted on secure servers using SSL, techniques for
encrypted transmission of the credit card information. It is
hacker-proof and there is no fear of the credit card particulars
becoming known to others.
The Hindu, Business Line October 24th, 2001.
"Emotions don't go out of fashion"
FROM a low-key bakery in Hyderabad to becoming one of the popular brands in e-commerce services for NRIs, it has been a steady transformation for giftagift.com.
Its gift portal, giftagift.com, which started with cakes and flowers, has become an online Shopping site with over 5,000 varieties of gifts. It has arrangements at around 140 cities across India to deliver even perishable items such as cakes, flowers and sweets.
You name the occasion or personal relationship and giftagift.com is ready with a gift to express your emotions. Gifts are available for birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, to celebrate friendship, general, wedding and traditional festivals. From New Year's Day to Independence day, for festivals of every kind and to celebrate days popular in the western region -- Friendship Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Valentine's Day -- the portal has a package ready for delivery.
Sending a gift has been one of the best ways to convey the message that you care for somebody. Technology has now changed the way people send gifts. Convenience and hassle-free gifting have popularized the practice. It's not just flowers, cakes and sweets. The range has expanded to watches, pens, apparel and accessories to electronic gadgets and even home appliances such as refrigerators and computers.
Floating a gift or shopping portal appears simple and lucrative. But when it comes to empirical operations, most Web sites fall flat, unable to maintain service standards and record at least breakeven, leave aside posting huge profits.
The Chairman of giftagift.com, Dr Sudhakar Rao Polsani, a qualified medical professional, was one of the first to venture into the online business and was fortunate to see roaring success. ``But it was not a cake-walk for us. When we offered to `deliver emotions at $5', there were very few NRIs who trusted us. It required a lot of dedication and a customer-centered approach to become successful in the online business. We have been known for high-quality designer cakes for all occasions and in fact, we had nothing but a reputation for quality to boast of when we started giftagift.com,'' he says.
According to him, the gift site owes its success to its loyal customers, who continue to be the brand ambassadors of giftagift.com. Another factor was the offline infrastructure in key cities and towns across India.
``We have emphasized customer satisfaction from the beginning and have never hesitated to go that extra mile to satisfy the needs of our customers. This approach has won many a loyal customer and those satisfied customers have become our brand ambassadors. This has helped our web site to grow steadily and survive in the dotcom slump. The gift site has never depended on advertisements for revenue generation.
Dr Sudhakar, with a penchant for innovative services using information technology, has decided not to confine the portal to gift articles alone. He has steered it into offering services such as ``health checks'' at a corporate hospital and ``arrange a party'' service at premier hotels in various cities. Giftagift.com is also eyeing the travel and leisure industry to offer new services to customers.
According to Dr Sudhakar, healthcare services gained instant acceptance from NRIs, who crave for the health and happiness of their families in India whom they sorely miss. This has inspired NRIs to gift even `health insurance' to their near and dear in their homeland. Following this, giftagift.com has entered into an alliance with Apollo Hospitals to offer some of the popular health products and services online.
Dr Sudhakar says giftagift.com plans to introduce more innovative services for NRIs shortly. ``Being an NRI, I understand the needs of NRIs and how emotional they are about their families back home and their homeland. Our service helped us build a good clientele base and most of our customers come back to us again and again.''
Having tasted success in its offerings to NRIs, giftagift.com is set to launch its Indian version by Diwali to cater to resident Indians. ``We have ambitious plans to make the services available in around 1,500 centres across the country from the current level of 140 centers focusing on services to NRIs,'' he says.
The Hindu, Sunday, December 3, 2000.
"Baking it on Net"
Bakeries and bytes, Doughnuts and drives? Do they go together? Oh yes. In Cyberbad, they do. touted to be the country's first online e-com bakery and gift Shoppe, at Countryoven, one can have the 'click' cake and even eat it too here, all online, of course!
Dr. Sudhakar Rao, a qualified medical professional who runs the bakery, says they offer custom-made designs within a short span of time to customers all over the world. "One can gift cakes, bouquets, sweets, electronic goods and personal products like pens and perfumes to people any where in Andhra Pradesh from any part of the globe," he says.
The NRIs trying to realize their dollar dreams in distant West obviously from a huge chunk of users. With Christmas and New year celebrations round the corner, he says people with friends and relatives in the twin cities can simply log onto www.giftagift.com or www.giftagift.com and place their orders from a wide range of goodies. And these would be delivered, all lovingly wrapped up!
Deccan Chronicle, Sunday, February 25, 2001.
"GET SET, CHANGE TRACKS"
Dr.Sudhakar Rao Polsani, an esteemed pediatrician who studied in Dublin, Ireland and practiced in places as varied as Singapore and Iran, gave it all up when he shifted to Hyderabad in the 80’s. He had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. His enterprising attitude took him to the peak of education, which he regards as a social commitment. He founded schools and colleges under the organizational umbrella Sister Nivedita in the State. His zeal to reinvent, made him take to a field as different as fast food, and he started, ‘Country Oven’ in 1993 which is a hot hangout-joint for youngsters, now.
The Hindu, Saturday, September 25, 1999.
"Lavish spread for the gourmand in you"
Country Oven has perfected the family sized pizza and the Kentucky fried chicken and today is one of the first in the country to provide online service and usage of International Credit Card to pay. Promoted by Dr. P.Sudhakar Rao, Country Oven has been known for high quality specialty cakes for all occasions. The wide range of pastries, pizzas and a host of fast food items have won the hearts of Hyderabadis over the years.
The Deccan Chronicle Monday, May 21st, 2001.
The ninth anniversary of country oven was celebrated with the release of their release of the revamped websites www.giftagift.com and www.giftagift.com. "We want people who are based abroad to send their love and feelings across to their families and relatives instead of a cake or a pastry. So, we have launched the new version of our website," says Dr. Polasani Sudhakar Rao, Director of the company.
Different-shaped pastries were made to make the celebration a memorable event. Pepsi sponsored free soft drinks for those who brought items worth Rs.35 and above. However, the offer was extended to all customers by Country oven. "We simply did what our customers liked best," says Dr. Polasani Sudhakar Rao.