Hot Biz How-To: Taj Bazar
Sunita Malik co-owns Taj Bazar, an Indian market with locations in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Popular products include samosa, frozen chicken curry, basmati rice and Bollywood movies.
Why did you choose this field?
Taj Bazar is owned by Vaschus Inc., which I founded in 2004 as an interior lighting consultancy business based on the Eastern philosophy of Vaastu. Our primary clients were new-homebuyers.
In 2007, as the housing market started showing signs of trouble, I prepared for business diversification. I started Taj Bazar on a very small scale on an experimental basis – all funded from the profits of Vaschus. Although retail was not a lucrative market back then, my market research and gut feeling told me that there is still a lot of scope if we enter into a niche segment like international groceries and merchandise.
How has your business grown since you launched it?
Taj Bazar has expanded twice at the Virginia Beach location. In late 2010, on persistent demand of our customers, we opened a second store in Norfolk. We launched online shopping in July. The customer base has increased from 1,350 per month in 2008 to 2,480 in 2012. Revenues have steadily grown over 40 percent every year. I am in the middle of finalizing plans and leasing space for our third store in Newport News.
Describe an industry-specific challenge.
With over 4,000 items with short shelf-life, inventory and ordering management was a challenge. To make matters further complicated was the logistics of procurement, as 90 percent of our suppliers are located in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, etc. In initial months, it resulted in product expiries, imbalanced inventories and excessive transportation costs. The fact that you can order only a full case of a product, even if the case contains four times your monthly requirement, came as a shock to me as it meant tying up extra capital and space or else risk losing customers. I hired a process and systems management professional to streamline our operations and put in place a robust inventory and ordering system. We are a lot happier since then.
Nowadays more and more customers will find you through the Internet than other mediums. Businesses must explore this avenue of advertisement including expansion through e-commerce for healthy growth of their business.