eCommerce Trends in India Taking Bombay’s Cutting Chai Online!

It is often said about Bombay that the most magical of stories find its roots in this charming city. It is a place which witnesses a co-existence of 12 million people from all walks of life. The poor and the rich, the big and the small, the old and the young – this city houses them all. Amidst all of them, one group of people who have been an integral part of Mumbai’s culture are the city’s famed chaiwalas, or tea vendors.

Mumbaikars have always loved their tea, and that is the reason why thousands of chaiwalas line the streets everyday to serve the city its favourite drink. Everyone loves a sip or two, be it executives discussing strategies while puffing on a cigarette or labourers taking a break after toiling hard in the summer sun.

The Idea

We’ve always been fascinated by the organized nature of the chaiwalas. From sunrise to sunset, they cater to hundreds of customers everyday. In addition, they also follow a strict timetable of tea deliveries to offices and residences in their locality. Their discipline was the inspiration behind the conception of

At Zepo, being an eCommerce website building platform, we took up the initiative of better connecting the chaiwalas of Mumbai to its residents. With more than 1000 online stores running on Zepo, probably the only category missing was a chai ki dukaan!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone in Mumbai could order tea online while sitting at home or at work? Not only would it be great for the tea lovers, but also for the chaiwalas who could get hundreds of new customers through the internet. Because after all, who likes to shop offline anymore, right?

The Execution

Once the basic plan was chalked out, we got to work. We picked Bandra as our first destination to start out from, simply because it is one of the biggest business centers in Mumbai. We approached many tea vendors in and around the famous Linking Road and put forward our idea to them.

Within a couple of days, we had 4 chaiwalas ready to pitch in together and purchase an online store from us. Because they weren’t that tech savvy, we helped them build their website completely within a day. We uploaded their photos, added their ‘products’ and was up and running. We also provided them with customized T Shirts and paper cups to help them market their online store to their customers.

The Results

After we got the website live, we started spreading word about it on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Within no time, we received the first order on the website. And then the second. And then the third!

In the two weeks that the website has been live, a total of 42 orders have been received and the pace is only picking up! Depending on the delivery address, we forward the details to one of the chaiwalas through an SMS and they take it up from there onwards. All profits are meant solely for the chaiwalas, who use it to improve and expand their stalls.

Once we cover Bandra in entirety, we plan to expand further in Mumbai. In the coming few weeks, we aim to include chaiwalas in South and North Mumbai in the frame as well. And if all goes well, who knows if we even move to other cities as well! But that is a long way off.

With your support, we can make it even bigger. Help us spread word about ChotuChaiWala and help your friends and family get the best tea in town delivered right at their doorsteps. Because when tradition meets technology, it is a win for society! 🙂

Do you believe eCommerce is for everyone in India? Do you also have a business that you want to take online like Chotu? Start your online store today and sell across India and the world!

Yes, I’d Like to Sell Online like Chotu



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Varun K R

Varun K R

Arsenal fan with a keen liking for barley & hops. Realized a little late that engineering was not God's purpose for him in life. Bitten by the startup bug, Varun is now trying to contribute to one of the most happening startups in the country - Zepo!

  • Hi Bhavi,

    Thanks for your honest feedback and for taking out the time to check out the post. These are definitely things that we have thought. But it being the case, our chai walas have still seen close to 400-500 order in the past 5 months. 🙂

  • Rommel Fernandes

    Nice to hear about this venture. All the best! may be you be successful!

  • Amit Lanjekar

    Superb….gr8 efforts by zepo….congrats

  • Hi D,

    The extra charge can be looked upon as convenience fee, if you may. We did start with the apprehension of whether or not people will order tea online. But it’s done surprisingly well. We’ve gotten some 53 orders in the three weeks of operation.

    • Dsanghvi

      Wow the numbers for the first month are really encouraging!! Now the next challenge would be to retain these customers and in making sure that they dont go back to the traditional way of ordering tea….any strategies for that?? I mean some loyalty program or something which will attract the customer to come again and again on the site??

  • Dsanghvi

    nice concept….though the prices seemed a little expensive compared to a traditional tea stall which i assume is due to the online presence…..but will the price sensitive Indian consumer spend that extra amount when they have an option to ask the nearby traditional chaiwala to serve the tea in their office …..i mean except convenience whats the added advantage?? and its a one time affair to tie up with the nearby chaiwala than why would someone go online for buying it??

  • san7

    Superb concept l!!! Though I live in navi Mumbai but I m waiting for to come and bless navi mumbaities. I will promote it to all my friends in bandra and ask them to order only from

  • Arijit Dutta

    Superb! All the best.