The company was established six months ago and claims to be India's first online confectionery marketplace.
“Chocozonia was created with the motive of connecting homemade chocolates, branded and other confectionery manufacturers to customers across India,” Khan told ConfectioneryNews. And the increase in individual income and lack of recreational time in India has also made the online business possible, he said.
What does the online market look like?
Chocozonia is currently in its initial phase, according to Khan. The startup started selling around 42 types of homemade chocolates, and is now identifying and developing its contacts and relations with different homemade chocolatiers.
In addition to selling homemade chocolates, Chocozonia has also partnered with distributors of branded chocolates all over India, Khan said.
When a few of Akram Khan’s friends from Morocco visited him in India last year, they were amazed by Indian homemade chocolates. To show his hospitality, Khan decided to send them some chocolates for when they returned home. However, he couldn’t find a convenient online service to do so. Khan quickly realized this unmet need was a viable business opportunity. After doing deep market research on e-commerce in India’s confectionery industry, Chocozonia, India’s first online confectionery marketplace, came in to being six months ago.
“Our current partners are Cadbury, Nestlé, LUVIT, Mars, and Galaxy,” he said. “After receiving an order from a customer, it’ll be reviewed and routed to our distributor. The distributor then packs along with our branding and keeps the parcel ready. Our logistics partner then collects the parcel and delivers to the customer.”
Chocozonia recently made a deal with India’s premium dark chocolate brand, Schimitten Chocolates, and will launch its products at the end April, according to Khan.
Although Khan’s online confectionery market only sells products that are sold in the India market, he hopes to partner with some of the confectionery makers in France and Switzerland to enlist their products in the near future as well.
“Our long-term goal is to have world’s confectioneries under one roof which would be accessible to the whole world,” Khan said.
This year, Chocozonia has leveraged social media to grow customer base and has focused on creating a robust supply chain, as well as introducing homemade sugar-free chocolate.
E-commerce is disproportionally important for India’s confectionery market
Khan said e-commerce market is booming because of Indian consumers' busy schedules and compact lifestyles, which has made it difficult for them to connect with loved ones.
“With the help of e-commerce, distance does not really deter them to surprise [loved ones] with wonderful gifts and chocolates,” he said. “Hence I see that the online market for Chocozonia looks very bright and strong in the near future.”
American market research firm Forrester says the Indian online retail market is the fastest-growing in Asia-Pacific, although it is still very small compared to China and Japan.
Forrester projects the online retail market in India will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44% from 2015 to 2020 to reach $75bn.
E-Commerce even more crucial to emerging economies
Keith Anderson, VP of strategy and insight at Profitero, said emerging e-commerce markets, such as China and India, have economies that are soaring simultaneously, while developed markets like North America and Europe’s bricks-and-mortar retailers have matured way ahead of the era of e-commerce.
“The importance of e-commerce in the developing retail landscape is disproportionally larger in China and India,” Anderson said. “The main driver of e-commerce in India is the increasing internet access.”
It’s noted that internet and economy only started maturing in the post-smartphone era, Anderson added. Accordingly, Chocozonia also developed an online shopping app for its android phone users.
With such momentum of e-commerce growth in India, the majority of the confectionery purchases will be made via online platforms in the next 10 years, Khan believes.
“We also want to introduce chocolates which are not available in the Indian market to Indian consumers,” he said.