Let me tell you a little story about Ashoka and Malinda. The first, a humble man who owned a little grocery store in the small town of Waragoda Kelaniya, a small town that I grew up in. The latter, Malinda, is me. An eleven-year-old hotheaded brat, I was a constant headache for my mother.
Now that you have been introduced to the charming characters of my little story, lets get to it, shall we? As I have already told you, I was a bratty child, making it nearly impossible for my mom to get any work out of me. If it was anything related to household chores, forget about it!
Biker Mice goes Grocery Shopping
On one fine afternoon my best friend Gawrika and I were going about our monkey business as usual. Today it was literally monkey business because we were on top of the mango tree testing our limits to see who can jump off the highest point, when I suddenly heard Amma calling me –MALINDAAAAAA! I ignored her the first time, thinking she’d just give up if I pretended not to hear her. Then as she called me the second time and the third time, I knew better than not to answer her as I would have my computer privileges revoked for a week if I didn’t. Yikes!
So I asked Gawrika to wait, as I ran to the kitchen. Ai Amma? I asked. To my surprise, she asks me to go to Ashoka’s store to get some chilies and onions. This left me confused. How did this come up? Grocery shopping? I’ve never done that before! Then came the barrage of questions – Why now? Why me? Why can’t somebody else go? I’ve never done that before! Aunty Anoma doesn’t ask Gawrika to do that so on and so forth. “It is an important life skill to learn”, she said. I wasn’t buying into this! I was going to build a ship that travels faster than the speed of light why do I need to learn how to do grocery? So now you know I was a dreamer, even as a child and I still am, to this date. When actual reasoning didn’t work, my mom used one of her trump cards, the Hopper card! “You won’t be having hoppers tonight if you don’t bring me what I want!” Now how could I let that happen? So I called Gawrika, we got on our bikes and set-off on the great journey of getting Onions and Chillies.
I don’t remember which characters we were on that day. It was either Saber rider and Star Sheriffs or Biker Mice! After a short bike ride, we were at Ashoka’s grocery and I had already forgotten the quantities Amma had asked for. I vaguely remembered it was 1Kg of onions. What about chilies? I couldn’t remember.
Me being the genius that I am thought, if its 1kg of onions, its got to be 1kg of chilies too! Here I get to the essence of my story. As I asked Ashoka to give me 1kg of chilies, he smiled and asked me if we were having a wedding at our place. Confused, I said no. In a caring manner, he told me that 1kg of chilies is too much, why don’t I take 200g and when I argued he told me to give him a call if it was not enough and that he’d deliver it to my place himself. As I got home, I told Amma what had happened. She then told me she only needed 100g of chilies. Ashoka is good man not to give me what I asked for blindly. I should do more grocery shopping “shoot”, I thought to myself.
A Righteous Man
Ashoka could have just given me what I asked and be done with it. He could have made a better sale. It’s not his fault that I’m taking home chilies that would be enough for maybe 5 families for a week, but he didn’t do that. Instead he did the right thing and that’s the reason behind his success. In the last 17 years, so many grocery stores have sprouted in the area but none of them could compete with Ashoka. He always maintained his standards and never cheated his customers. He greeted everyone with a warm smile and made sure he did his part for the community by getting readily involved in community activities and never failed to give his Dansala every Vesak. The last time I visited home, was so happy to see that his little grocery has evolved into a mini supermarket. As I entered his shop, even though he didn’t recognize me, he greeted me with big smiles and was very keen on getting me what I needed as soon as possible.
The Online Business in Sri Lanka
Now as I write this blog, at the beginning of my venture, it gives me immense happiness to make URBAN.lk a reality. We have big plans to elevate the status of current online shopping experience in Sri Lanka. Evaluate its drawbacks and as a company, what we can do to better it. Sri Lanka’s online marketplace is growing fast as there are so many players in the market who offer various perks to customers to attract them. When I got the idea of starting this venture, I did my own market research to find out what was the void in Sri Lankan market, that missing piece. What I found astonished me. There are so many counterfeits of branded products in Sri Lanka. Starting from simple things such as SkullCandy headsets to Michael Kors or Rolex watches. The worst part of it was that these counterfeits are also available in big department stores with customers having no clue that they are spending their valuable money on second rated Items. It’s these customers who’s thriving to buy the best but are cheated by cunning vendors. We here at URBAN.lk wish to change that. We are driven by the aim to provide only the top of the range products to our customers while guaranteeing safety, quality and durability of every product that you shop online.
Another thing that really bothers me is that most of Sri Lankan stores try to attract customers by using misleading adverts. They’ll advertise a product for a price that is far less than the market price but there is a catch, no warranty or any guarantee that the product is a genuine one! There are other stores that charge outrageous amount of money to deliver items. Here they are indirectly charging customers through shipping.
We understand what has to be changed and what kind of an end product Sri Lankan shoppers are looking for. Hence, URBAN.lk is based on its six core principles.
1. Urban.lk will only deal with reputed brands and high quality items, period.
2. Strive to provide the best customer care possible, where every customer query is dealt in a professionally, with highest level of customer satisfaction.
3. We will not sell expensive electronic items without warranty (What’s the point of selling an item which costs more than 10K and not giving customer an after sale service)
4. Hassle-Free experience for customers while claiming warranty. If it’s a manufacturer fault item should be replaced or fixed no questions asked.
5. Full refund policy for items that are in their original packaging if the customer is unhappy with the product delivered.
6. And finally, full transparency from the point of purchase until the item is delivered.
So far as a company, we have lived by these principles and I am proud to say that we have provided all of our customers an outstanding level of service. Almost all our customers rating us 5 stars on our Facebook page is a testimony to that. I know that we are still at the beginning and we have a long journey ahead and in that journey we might have to face greater difficulties and bigger challenges, but its our promise that we will keep our standards to the highest level possible and will revolutionize the way Sri Lanka shops while providing our shoppers a luxury shopping experience.
Malinda Muthumuni, Founder and CEO – Urban.lk