Phool X Shipway Case Study

Phool Takes Their Lifestyle and Wellness Brand Online With Shopify, Leveraging Automation Shipway to Scale Their Business

When it comes to making an impact on the environment, there are very few brands that step up and take the initiative of doing their bit. It’s not just about having to put in additional hours to take the brand’s idea to market, but also having to manage an online presence that most shy away from.

The one such brand that has been taking active strides towards doing their bit for the environment and leveraging automation to scale, is Phool. In this article, we’re sharing how Phool began its journey to becoming a D2C brand supporting an environmental cause and their journey with Shopify.

We’re also tapping into how the brand leveraged automations to manage their backend and post-purchase communication with customers by integrating their store with Shipway.

Phool – Starting and scaling a lifestyle wellness brand on Shopify

Phool was born out of the want to reduce temple waste in India, which was typically dumped into water bodies. From what started as a conversation by the Ghats of the River Ganges, in Kanpur, the research led to finding out that temples were loaded with pesticides and insecticides.

Once they reached the waters of the river, the chemicals washed off, mixing with the water, making toxic compounds, suppressing the oxygen levels and gravely threatening marine life. That was enough for an idea to turn into a venture called Phool.

Phool’s journey started by employing 2 women working on 2 kgs of temple flowers to turn them into incense sticks and cones. Today, the brand is working with 80 women who repurpose about 8.4 tonnes of flowers and agricultural waste on a daily basis. Phool now boasts of a wide variety in their catalog with over 15 fragrances of incense sticks and incense cones.

The incense market has remained unexplored online in India so far, but the interest of people in the products and their need to make purchases online, has been increasing. So Phool focused on making their incense products available online. And as a startup that wanted to remain agile, moving faster, they chose Shopify as their eCommerce platform.

Choosing Shopify as their eCommerce platform

When Phool started, their goal was to establish a strong connection with the consumer, spread awareness about the problem they were addressing, share their story and at the same time, give everyone easy access to all their products.

After months and months researching and perfecting their products, Phool decided to straight away take their venture online. This is when they chose to start their online journey with Shopify as their eCommerce platform.

“We were looking for an easy way to take Phool online. I remember looking for something that was quick-build, would run glitch-free without us having to spend hours making our online store work, and would be able to help us manage orders, payment gateways and other eCommerce functionalities seamlessly. On research, we found Shopify fitting the bill in every possible way and in August 2018, we went online with them!” Apurv

Today, Phool has a vast range of products made from temple flowers, categorised under the collections – incense cones, incense sticks, vermicompost, DIY kits and gulaal. With Shopify, they’re able to create collection pages to make it easier for consumers to explore their product range.

Right from comprehensive descriptions, sharing how to use their products to high-quality product images to give the consumers a sense of what they can achieve, Phool has customized their Shopify store’s product pages to connect its consumers to their story.

All the products on Phool’s site are charcoal-free, all-organic and dipped in 100% natural essential oils. So they make sure each of their product pages is able to reinforce the same message with the use of product labels.

They go the extra mile to explain each of their products, explaining where the temple flowers came from, how they were turned into the products one is seeing, how they should or can be used and the ingredients that go into them. The brand has included detailed FAQs and customer reviews as well on each page.

“Working with Shopify makes it a one-minute task to manage our site. Whether we’re changing our design or adding a new page, it only takes us about a day and we don’t need a dedicated developer working on it. In addition to that, the extension Shopify app store has solutions for everything we’re looking for – be it marketing, conversions, add-on features. It’s so easy to take your business online with Shopify that we actually recommend it to everyone we meet. It’s a platform for anyone and everyone!” Apurv

After establishing their online presence, Phool started to see a steady increase in the number of orders placed on their Shopify store. To be able to manage and process these orders seamlessly, the team needed to move from a manual approach to automating their backend. This is when they discovered Shopify’s integration with Shipway.

Automating backend office and order management on their Shopify store with Shipway

Shipway offers an app that lets Shopify stores manage shipping labels, fulfilment and returns with smart automation. With this integration, Phool could save tons of hours of manual work and reduce human error while managing their operations seamlessly. All without compromising the customer experience being offered to their customers.

From automatic allocation of tracking numbers based on weight, carrier, etc to generating shipping labels in bulk, downloading invoices, GST invoicing for all types of discounts, products, etc and GSTR reports, Shipway helped Phool manage it all. This made it easier for the brand to scale without having to worry about a break in their operations.

“We started using Shipway six months after starting our online store. What would take us 4 to 5 hours to manage, now takes us about 15 minutes to do. We just have one resource to manage, or let’s say, oversee our backend dispatch operations.

Shipway has become our one-stop solution to manage orders, and we don’t have to worry about how rapidly they increase.” Apurv

Alongside the automation, the Shipway integration also enables Phool to keep track of all their shipments in one place, simplifying NDR management and the end-to-end returns process. You can learn more about Shipway here.

But managing their orders in the backend was only one side of the problem. Phool soon realised how important it was to keep their customers informed as well about their orders. After having used the Shopify and Shipway integration, Shipway became an obvious choice for them to solve this problem.

Automating post-purchase communication with the Shopify and Shipway integration

With the lockdowns imposed to control COVID-19, Phool saw a rising need to address consumer concerns about their orders. They were skeptical about their orders reaching them on time or getting lost in transit. The same holds true for most lifestyle brands even today.

This resulted in an increase in an increase in the number of online shoppers reaching out to know where their orders were. Commonly known as WISMO (where is my order) queries.

The increased WISMO calls started taking up more time and resources of the customer service and operations teams, leading to a lag in other growth strategies.

After exploring their options, they discovered Shipway through Shipway to simplify the post-purchase communication with customers.

Using Shipway, the brand was able to do two things to address post-purchase anxiety of its customers:
- Setting up branded tracking pages to let customers track orders easily and on their own using their order numbers
- Automating email and SMS order status messages to keep them up-to-date about products in transit

The automation helped the brand free up the time of their customer service and operations team, while addressing customer anxiety. This improved the overall purchase experience that Phool offered to its customers as well. You can learn more about Shipway here.

“Reducing WISMO calls with the Shipway tracking page helped us allocate our resources where it mattered most. But at the same time it also helped us be there for our customers and build stronger relationships with them.” Apurv

Making a positive impact on a global scale with Shopify

Phool is on its way to changing how we have been disposing temple flowers. It’s rapidly changing the lives of many women and their families. But more importantly, with every step they take, they’re making a positive impact on the environment, on a global scale.

From the time Phool launched their store on Shopify, in 2018, to now, the brand has come a long way building a steady customer base for themselves. With the help of smart automations, they have been able to scale to thousands of customers and stay connected with them throughout their journey with the brand, creating a lasting impression on anyone who interacts with them.

On another note, Phool’s initiative has been recognized by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their efforts and the United Nations for actively towards sustainable development goals. They have also been awarded by the likes of Forbes 30 under 30, Unilever Young Entrepreneur Award and many more. And we’re sure there’s a lot more success headed their way.

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