In our early days, we sold just one or two paintings per month and those orders also came through our contacts. But after setting up an ecommerce store on Zoho, we have been generating more business from our website than what we do via marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart thanks to improved SEO rankings and branding initiatives. Today we sell around 120 paintings per month.
Proprietor, Chola Impressions
Based in Thanjavur, India, Chola Impressions specializes in classical Tanjore paintings. Started in 2014 by R Ranjeeth to preserve the centuries-old art of Tanjore paintings, the business aimed to support local artisans and make authentic artworks available to connoisseurs worldwide. The market for Tanjore paintings has not been very organized, leading to many fakes proliferating the market. There is also a lack of awareness and interest in the art among the next generation. Ranjeeth saw this vacuum and quit his corporate career to get into the business of Tanjore art.
"The demand was huge for the art globally, but there was an issue at the supply end. Usually, businesses face the opposite scenario. There were major issues of standardization. Tanjore art requires 22-carat gold foil to be used in it. But to cut down costs, many were using imitation metals. Also, if we could provide employment to the artists who knew the work, it would encourage more to get into this field," said Ranjeeth.
Chola Impressions began providing work to artists on a contractual basis and soon began employing artists full-time. Ranjeeth began selling the works on marketplace.
Initially, Chola Impressions ran a simple website to provide product details and it was not intended for ecommerce. Soon, a brick and mortar store also came up.
A point came when Ranjeeth wanted strategic IT intervention to propel his business.
Coming from an IT background, Ranjeeth knew the ecosystem and tried out a few website builders but he was not happy with the multiple plugins needed for a smooth operation of an ecommerce store. "I used Ecwid for three years. Then when the Goods and Services Tax was implemented in India, we switched to Zoho Books for accounting and got introduced to the wide ecosystem of Zoho," he explained.
Then the pandemic hit, and Ranjeeth thought it was time to migrate his business to Zoho.
In three days, he gradually moved his store over to Zoho Commerce and ran the store on both Ecwid and Commerce for a month. "Zoho Commerce was far more advanced by several parameters for us. Using Books with Commerce made transactions easy for us and automatic invoicing happened," Ranjeeth said. Later, Chola Impressions also got Zoho One.
Benefits and ROI
The first thing that Ranjeeth noticed after moving to Zoho Commerce was the ease of operations. "It is more professional than other platforms. The ecommerce store has a good look. These factors are important to build confidence among the buyers. Our sales improved substantially after moving to Commerce. In the very first month, we used Sales IQ integration and were able to close a big deal with a US-based client. In our early days, we sold just one or two paintings per month and those orders also came through our contacts. But after setting up an ecommerce store on Zoho, we have been generating more business from our website than what we do via marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, thanks to improved SEO rankings and branding initiatives. Today we sell around 120 paintings per month," Ranjeeth explained.
In our early days, we sold just one or two paintings per month and those orders also came through our contacts. But after setting up an ecommerce store on Zoho, we have been generating more business from our website than marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, thanks to improved SEO rankings and branding initiatives.
Proprietor, Chola Impressions
"Good customer reviews make a lot of difference. In the last few years, we have been working on timely delivery and exceeding [the] expectations of our customers. Good reviews attract more customers as they even refer our website to their friends, leading to more business. Our ISO certification has also helped in creating a credible image," said Ranjeeth, who places utmost importance on customer reviews on a website.
Talking about how integrations change the way businesses are run, Ranjeeth gives an example of the integration of his ecommerce website with Sales IQ. "I receive a lot of enquiries on Sales IQ and it makes it easier for me to address their concerns there. Customers ping asking for various customizations in the artwork, since we have listed only the standard images on our website. Chats changed the way we interacted with them and today we can do business with people across time zones," he explained.
Ecommerce is of great importance for Ranjeeth because he believes that today it has made comparing sellers easier for buyers. "We are the only ISO-certified company for Tanjore paintings. We would like to create an art village in Tanjore where we have planned a huge art gallery. It will be an experience centre for those interested in the arts of our city. As far as our business is concerned, the hybrid model is the way ahead."