India's largest tea retail chain, Chai Point, was path-breaking in launching its Chai delivery service - Chai-on-Call. Chai-on-Call is arguably India's largest hot beverage delivery service. The core innovation in this delivery service was the heat-retaining disposable flask that retains heat for 45-60 minutes.Chai Point was the first company in India to develop and launch this unique heat retaining use & throw flask. The team at Chai Point saw the necessity to invent this flask based on customer demand for tea delivery at their offices and the scalability and hygiene that is missing in traditional thermos based chai deliveries. As Chai Point's service hubs spread across Bangalore, it found customers coming over with ceramic/glass flasks and taking back Chai in them. The contentious issue for Chai Point team was to ensure that the flask was clean so that Chai quality would never be doubted. This led to the development of this unique format.
"It took us about nine months to get the pouch specifications and the design right. We have always been particular about quality - it's our foremost operating pillar. We made sure that all the five layers of the pouch were approved for food industry usage and that the inner most layer was certified to be BPA free," said Yaduvir Singh, Head of Supply Chain at Chai Point.
To the surprise of Chai Point's operations team, chai deliveries to offices outgrew the take-away format. Its initial flask capacity was 1.0 litre and within six months of its launch, it also launched a 500 ml capacity flask called the 'Mini'.
"We knew that delivery of Chai was already a hugely prevalent practice in India. This flask could completely give a new-age flip to this already huge though fragmented business. We could visualize that Chai-on-Call was going to be our fastest growing business. And luckily, we were spot on," said Amuleek Singh Bijral, CEO of Chai Point.
Chai Point will also be launching a 350 ml heat-retaining flask unit and intends to call it the 'Uni'. The driver behind the 'Uni' is to give individual customers the incentive to order Chai in this flask format. 'Uni' is likely to accompany food as a combo unit only.
"We also realize that unlike other F&B delivery items, ours come with a lot less fatigue. Chai is ordered by our customers more as a part of their daily habit routine rather than as an indulgence. We have, in fact, more than 250 customers that now subscribe to our Chai flask. This count is increasing at more than 25% rate month-on-month," said Yangchen Lachungpa, Head of Deliveries and Channels at Chai Point.
This flask innovation brought Chai Point's core product offering - Chai - into the realm of technology-driven delivery. Now about 75% of its orders for Chai come through online channels and Chai Point's mobile app.
Their goal now is markedly to enhance its delivery reliability and build a strong level of trust within its customer base around timeliness alongside its core strength of quality.
Chai Point already prides itself on its cloud-based propriety software platform internally dubbed as 'Shark'. Chai-on-Call necessitated the crucial additions of delivery management and campaign management functionalities within 'Shark'. All this, was again by Chai Point's internal technology team.
Chai Point had recently announced that it has built a fleet of 60 electric bikes to fuel this business. It also recently launched an internal app for its delivery fleet to better manage the timeliness of its deliveries. Chai Point also has partnerships with leading food delivery companies like Swiggy and stand-alone delivery startups like Shadowfax and Roadrunner.
"We delivered about 3 lakh Chai flask units in the last calendar year. This year we fully appreciate that the 10-15 lakh number is well within our grasp," said Sandesh C, COO of Chai Point.
In addition, Chai Point is working on measures with a waste and recycling management vendor, to help recycle the eco-friendly flasks - thus, consciously aligning themselves to being environmentally responsible.