Traditionally, Ayurvedic products (treatments based on the Indian subcontinent’s alternate medicine system) have been sold offline in brick and mortar stores. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay at home, Ayurvedic brands have had to quickly make the move online to sell their products.
One Ayurvedic business that has been especially successful at e-commerce is Dr. Vaidya’s. With an ayurvedic heritage spanning more than 150 years, Dr. Vaidya’s is a trusted Indian brand. Its CEO, Arjun Vaidya, is a renowned direct-to-consumer (D2C) entrepreneur who saw the immense potential of the internet. He took the Dr. Vaidya’s brand online even before the pandemic in 2016.
Arjun recently spoke to the Alavi team about the challenges he faced trying to sell an offline product online and how Dr. Vaidya’s eventually succeeded and became resilient, even in the face of a global pandemic. He also touched on the future of Ayurvedic products in the e-commerce space, both in India and around the world, as well as what he and his team are doing to expand the Dr. Vaidya’s brand and take it to even greater heights.
Pioneering & Persevering
Arjun began his career at Dr. Vaidya’s in 2016 when D2C was not yet popular in India. Almost no one thought he could sell Ayurvedic products online. However, Arjun was confident that the nation’s digital revolution would bring in new customers, even from outside the country’s major cities. He believed that if Dr. Vaidya’s was available through computers and smart devices, people who were previously cut off from its products would buy them. Arjun also wanted to appeal to modern consumers and focused on developing innovative products that could be easily sold online by his dynamic marketing team.
Despite Arjun’s best efforts, he found turning Dr. Vaidya’s into an e-commerce brand very challenging. Convincing Indian consumers to buy Ayurvedic products through a website when they were traditionally purchased in person after consulting a doctor, required massive amounts of perseverance.
To overcome trust issues and increase engagement with potential customers, Dr. Vaidya’s innovated and introduced free online consultations and products, like immunity toffees and hangover cures. This strategy proved to be a big success. Arjun also kept product names and benefits simple and easy to understand, which was key to winning over new customers and growing the brand. Also, he and his team actively sought and encouraged customer reviews, as they helped lift the brand’s profile and broadened its potential audience.
Remaining Resilient During COVID-19
When the pandemic hit India in March 2020 and the country went into lockdown, Arjun, like most business leaders, was unsure what the impact on Dr. Vaidya’s would be. But with Ayurvedic products being classed as essential goods, the company was able to resume deliveries by as early as April 2020.
Because of the desperate situation the pandemic had put many Indians in, Arjun made the decision to prioritize service over sales. So together with his family and team, he worked at the company’s warehouse during lockdown and personally packed orders for customers. With everyone pushing themselves as hard as they could, the company managed to dispatch thousands of orders while maintaining the highest safety and hygiene standards.
The challenge of COVID-19 brought the entire team at Dr. Vaidya’s closer together and inspired them to uphold the virtues of honesty, humility, diligence and commitment through their work. Each staff member was dedicated to fulfilling their role (and others if needed) to ensure the brand continued to provide quality products and exceptional service to customers. In fact, thanks to the team’s exemplary efforts, Dr. Vaidya’s was able to launch 7 new products during India’s lockdown, including sanitizers and a vegetable and fruit wash.
The Future of Ayurvedic Products in the E-commerce Space
With more and more people open to buying Ayurvedic products online, the scope for growth for companies like Dr Vaidya’s is immense. People are increasingly looking for immunity and health & wellness solutions and this will almost certainly lead to stronger demand for Ayurvedic products in the future.
This will inevitably increase competition in the space and Arjun believes to succeed brands will have to focus heavily on the customer experience. This why Dr. Vaidya’s pays close attention to feedback from users, so it can continue to improve its products, expand its customer base and increase retention. The company has also taken measures to ensure staff members are aware of and understand the needs of consumers.
Excited and energized by the prospects for Ayurvedic products online, Dr. Vaidya’s have launched a series of content initiatives to provide greater value to customers. Examples include livestreams like ‘Heal at Home’, which helps people navigate the overwhelming amounts of health-related information and rumors they now receive, and ‘Ayurveda Answered’, to address questions related to Dr Vaidya’s products and Ayurveda in general. The company has also identified new user trends that emerged during the lockdown and is tapping into them as it continues to work towards being a high engagement brand online.
Alavi’s discussion with Arjun concluded with his assessment that while visitors to Dr. Vaidya’s e-commerce store are looking for products to address a single need (such as immunity), the future of the industry online will be about offering a complete Ayurvedic way of life. That is a future he can’t wait to see.