We Built A $360K/Year Medical Supplies Ecommerce Platform
Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?
Hello there! My name is Varghese Samuel, and I am the CEO and Managing Director of KOGLAND Commerce Pvt Ltd.
As you know, KOGLAND started as an online marketplace exclusively for healthcare professionals, connecting healthcare providers and suppliers. However, to service customers faster and manage supply and demand bottlenecks, we now follow a hybrid model wherein we stock and sell fast-moving consumables and surgical products.
The platform is designed to streamline and simplify the procurement of bulk medical supplies and provides an enriched shopping experience for small & medium hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers across the country.
At KOGLAND, we get quality inputs from our team of in-house engineers and doctors. As a result, we realize how the timely availability of quality medical supplies makes a huge difference to patient care services—knowing that we aligned our expertise in technology with industry-specific challenges to mend those critical gaps.
We partner with the top and cutting-edge medical technology partners to enable the availability of high-quality medical supplies. With a vast & wide range of medical consumables and healthcare products listed on our website, KOGLAND today is one of India’s fastest-growing online surgical supply stores with a ten-fold increase in revenues, steady growth in online traffic, aggressive hiring, and scaling up plans.
What is your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?
KOGLAND is the result of inspiration from a team of technology, engineering, and medical professionals who closely understand the healthcare industry, its challenges, and gaps. The concept was ideated in 2015 while discussing the various challenges healthcare providers face due to supply constraints of quality medical supplies, including its logistics. Although medical technology, when it comes to the treatment of patients, has grown leaps and bounds, supply chain and procurement remain chaotic and time-consuming. As a result, prices vary a lot, and availability is a big issue.
Our first employee, Mr. Deepak Varghese burnt the midnight oil to get the platform up and running. His knowledge in operations and SCM is hard to match, and it was a blessing to have him on board. He now heads these functions.
We knew it would be challenging to transition the customers quickly to online mode and, hence, we had an offline sales team ready to talk about the company and the online model.
Once the platform was ready, by the end of 2019, we brought in Mr. Abraham Isaac to scale up the sales & marketing function. Apart from doing a great job on building the brand, he worked hard to increase the product offering and partnered with brands that have helped the company improve traffic and revenues. He is a biomedical engineer with an MBA from SPJIMR and has worked with companies like Bosch, Stanley Black and Decker, Mu Sigma, and TCS. Both Deepak and Abraham are effectively scaling up the company and building a strong team of like-minded people who are experts in the field of healthcare and its supply chain.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We had a brilliant business idea in 2015, and we had a few trusted vendors like Dynamic TechnoMedicals, Solokraft, JK Medirise, etc, who were ready to partner with us. These partners believed medical procurement would go online sooner than later and wanted to board the bus early. Thus, with the help of our technology partner i.e. Fingent Technologies (500 employees strong), built a platform on the highly powerful and scalable Magento to enable customers to shop through a variety of brands, especially the ones listed above.
We also assisted vendors to list products on our marketplace for free, making their brand and products available online for the entire Indian market rather than being confined to a small geographical area.
As we saw steady growth in the business, maintaining efficiency in managing purchases, sales, inventories, stock, finances, and attending customer queries was becoming tedious. Hence once again, with the help of our technology partner, we integrated our Magento platform with Odoo ERP to provide an even better and streamlined solution for our customers and maintain efficiency in-house.
Adopting Odoo and in combination with Magento smoothened our ERP requirement and sharpened our analytical capability, boosting our confidence to launch a feature-packed online marketplace for our customers. In addition, the positive responses that we received from our clients marked our success with the launch.
We recently partnered with 3M OralCare for the dental products distributorship, and we are looking forward to partnering with other reputed brands as well. Some of our other strategic partners are BPL, Carenow, KRAFT & SMR.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our primary goal and focus always remain in providing a hassle-free shopping experience for our customers. Even during the most challenging times of the pandemic, we tried our best to ensure safe and timely procurement of medical supplies through contactless deliveries. Our office & staff worked full time, round the clock during these tough times making sure customers received their shipments on time. Maintaining quality, trust, and building people have been our core pillars and our key to attracting and retaining more customers. Customer acquisition and online conversions are the near-term focus, not maximizing profitability.
Customers were hesitant about online purchases as they were comfortable with the offline (traditional) way of doing business. We knew it would be challenging to transition the customers quickly to online mode and, hence, we had an offline sales team ready to talk about the company and the online model. Though initially they were faced with strong objections to the online model, gradually with promotions, coupons, a single dashboard for managing all purchases, wide choice of products, etc. customers slowly started coming online. However, many are yet to make this transition. We believe this shift is going to be slow but inevitable.
Effective and relevant digital marketing activities targeting hospitals, clinics, dentists, old-age care centers, pharmacies, etc. helped in a big way to improve the traffic and to increase brand awareness and recall. Also, the newly formed inside sales team has been a key department in onboarding new customers and retaining the old ones.
We constantly try to improve our services based on the feedback we receive from our clients. We also try to stay connected with our audiences through social media channels, especially LinkedIn, analyzing their changing needs and challenges to enhance our solutions. We also use chatbots on our site to engage with customers. We engage in social media channels to build our brand, and not just for promotional purposes.
How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?
With B2B online business growing in leaps and bounds, we are looking at a very bright future. Accordingly, we are beefing up our investments in technology, infrastructure, partnerships, and team.
It is imperative that your brand stands for credibility and trust. Build your brand on these values, and it shall bloom.
We plan to continue investing in customer acquisition and retention strategies, fulfillment capabilities, strengthening staff, new partnerships, improving product offerings, novel payment methodologies, digital marketing, and training.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My experience with KOGLAND viz-a-viz my first company has been completely different. The way we do business, people's mindset, and the systems and processes are disparate from the IT services business.
Hiring the right people and building a team of like-minded people was the biggest challenge. However, luckily we were able to get it right the first time, and the current team is highly capable of taking the company forward without much intervention from my end. Therefore, I only get involved when it comes to IT, strategy, or compliance issues.
The team has built a strong and rapidly growing online medical supplies business based on our core values such as people, credibility, and trust.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As mentioned earlier, we use the Magento platform integrated with the Odoo ERP system to provide a seamless procurement experience for all our customers, apart from the several tools developed in-house.
We have also partnered with many well-known brands such as 3M Oral Care, Dynamic Techno Medicals, KRAFT, Romsons, Axiobio, etc., for our various branding & marketing activities.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I think our analysis of the industry challenges is what influences or drives us towards better performance. But yes, there are plenty of resources I refer to stay motivated. I cannot pick a book or podcast in particular. I believe every business story or challenge narrated is reference material and something from which we can all learn. Currently, I am reading “The Emperor of All Maladies- A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
As an entrepreneur, the only advice I would give is – apart from addressing the gaps and understanding your audience, your brand must stand for credibility and trust. Build your brand on these values, and it shall bloom.
We accept returns without any question (unless it is tampered with). We try and dispatch orders at the earliest without worrying much about the cost because for us it is all about servicing the customers at the earliest.
KOGLAND values are built on the successful FINGENT values. We have a 5-day office with the option of availing of paid holidays on birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. We encourage young people to experiment and explore, which is a crucial part of the learning process.
Are you hiring for certain positions right now?
We already have an excellent team in place, but as we are growing bigger by the day, we have plans to expand our team. Several brands/manufacturers who do not have an online presence are reaching out to us for partnerships and listing. Hence, we are always looking for talented people specialized in products, digital marketing, technology, and operations. Those interested in joining us and growing along with us should visit our LinkedIn page or write directly to [email protected]
Where can we go to learn more?
Our service is open to anyone who needs medical and healthcare supplies in bulk or retail. You can visit our online platform and shop through a wide range of products and brands.
Also, to know more about our services, you can connect with us through our social media channels- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram.
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