How Technology Could Serve Milk Vendors
CEO and Founder at WakeupBasket
In India, there are two ways to buy milk -- to buy it in stores or through milk vendors -- and most people prefer fresh milk. Milk delivery has been a traditional business in India for hundreds of years, and there are thousands of milk vendors operating across cities in India. They wake up every morning around 3 am, pick up fresh milk from milk producers, organize the orders and hand them to delivery boys who deliver fresh milk to customers’ houses. This supply chain operated without the support of technology, but technology could help milk vendors to better organize and grow their business. Three main challenges we identified were:
- The payments were collected in person and in cash: Often, customers were not home and vendors had to pay frequent visits to customers to collect payment for the previous month.
- Lack of proper order management and employment system: If customers would like to change their orders they would have to make a call to vendors who are busy during the day and who would often fail to update information on order status.
- Expanding their business: Besides fresh milk, customers need other breakfast food which is an opportunity for milk vendors to supplement their service.
We first built a mobile app prototype, gave it to the vendor we knew and asked for his feedback. We also created an app for customers to change or update their orders and make online payments. Both vendors and customers loved the prototype!
The best is to start off with a prototype, test it and then create a full product. Initially, we developed an MVP for both vendors and customers and to further enhance our app we relied on our customers’ feedback. Since there are thousands of milk vendors we also had to scale our product later, therefore it was important to choose the best technologies which can be used to create scalable products.
The vendors welcomed our app as we approached them eager to listen to and understand their problems. While they were not tech-savvy they opened up once they understood that online payments can save their time and money.
At the time we launched our app not many vendors in India had a smartphone. I would wake up early in the morning and visit milk vendors explaining how the app could benefit their business. Since most of them didn’t have a smartphone I had to persuade them to buy one. I would show them my phone, walk through all the features -- which was time-consuming, and they were too busy to pay attention. We decided then to get on board a few vendors who could understand the benefits and convey our message through their network. We identified vendors who were serving thousands of customers, educated and could influence other vendors.
There were three main lessons that we learned:
- Feedback: To create a better product, you should interact with your customers and rely on their feedback. Brainstorm together and ask the right questions!
- Education: For customers to use your product, they have to understand the benefits it will bring to them. If your product requires a certain skill set or a tech gadget like a smartphone, you should educate them about why this is required.
- Scalability: You can’t develop the product first only to think about scaling later. Think about scaling while developing the product.
Be notified about next articles from Satendra Pratap
CEO and Founder at WakeupBasket
Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders
We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.