“A perfect cup of tea goes well beyond how hot the water should be and how long the tea infuses… my perfect cup of tea is also all about the moment, the atmosphere, the place, the comfort of the silence or hustle around you. Because whether it’s during the day or night, I like to sit back, relax and sip my tea. It’s not just the brewing that makes it perfect. It’s the setting and the emotions running through you”.
There are tea lovers everywhere. Here, in India it is an integral part of our lives. We drink tea anytime during the day and also sometimes in the middle of the night!
I came on board mjunction in the year of 2014. Soon after my induction, I was given the responsibility to handle the tea project. For a person who had no prior experience in the industry it was difficult to understand the dynamics of this extremely complex trade. The goal was to set up an eCommerce platform for bulk tea to make tea trade an easy transparent affair and also to increase the sales and grow mjunction as a brand. Apart from tea auction, tea buyers buy tea in bulk privately. There was no better way to carry out the old fashioned private sale than through the internet with proper processes in place.
The mjunction tea trading platform is a fully hosted eCommerce system which was set up to assist one of the largest tea buyers to buy tea online. Straightforward and simple, the platform helped the tea buyer to manage their procurement in an incredibly small timespan. We started by professionally designing a template for our portal landing page which provided the aesthetic pleasure of trading tea for the stakeholders. Once the seller had set up, the superior online portal would record the offers and the bids, track seller ranks, manage sale history, and produce detailed reports. The portal was also associated with quick servers and unlimited bandwidth capabilities. We started operations with onboarding small tea sellers mainly from the Bought Leaf Segment from the Assam and Dooars regions. The sales were not that high in the beginning, and we helped the client source around 20 million kg in the first three years.
With pan India Tea Board Auctions setting in last year, and the glitches associated with the payments, mjunction was able to leverage the opportunity and increase trade on its platform. We helped our client procure almost 22 million kg of tea in a matter of seven months, a record by itself. The number of sellers on our platform had been increasing gradually and so was the geographical reach. We now help our client source teas not only from Assam and Dooars but also from South India.
Soon afterwards, we were asked to launch another service where we would extend our platform to the sell side too. We tied up with a reputed tea seller down south and were able to get some quantity to be sold through our platform. As this particular seller was our first client for the new service, we had to undergo a detailed market study prior to commencement of operations. I undertook my first trip to Kerala, training the buyers to operate on our portal. I remember facing strong resistance from the buyer community, owing to the new technologically advanced buying portal. Tea trade has always been a traditional system of trade and was not much inclined to change with respect to technology. However, the mjunction model was user-friendly and the buyers could hardly ignore it once the benefits of trade were made apparent. The more industry people I interacted with across the country, the more confident I became about the product.
After successful commencement of the tea selling service, we signed up another seller, which was one of the largest in the country. Convincing the trade about the benefits of our platform was a huge task. We soon understood that even though we knew our product well, we were not familiar with the dynamics of the tea industry. Hence, the tea selling service was not gaining much success. I travelled to Delhi, Guwahati, Siliguri to understand the stakeholders’ pain points. Recently we met several players across the supply chain in Gujarat and Maharashtra covering the major tea drinking cities including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Mumbai, Pune etc. With all our learnings we were able to sign up yet another big seller to offer teas on our platform for sale. We are looking forward to some new ventures where we will extend our selling model to a larger audience at a national level.
We believe that the current tea trade is quite relaxed in the way it operates. People are mostly happy with the traditional way of buying and selling. However, mjunction being at the forefront of innovation and technology in the B2B field, would like to make life easier by emphasising on the “joy” of trading. The constant improvements of our services and the excitement of doing something new for the industry everyday, has always given me a high. I believe that very soon mjunction will have a significant role to play in revolutionising the tea trade benefiting all stakeholders right from the farmers in the tea producing gardens and estates to the last players in the supply chain.
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