For a generation of cooking enthusiasts, grandmothers, mothers, friends and acquaintances were the biggest influences. Exchanging recipes over the phone or sharing notes from their recipe books helped discover traditional and new recipes. As Internet penetration increased, YouTube, blogs and websites gradually replaced recipe books and phone calls.
Today, food and recipe discovery platforms have become the first choice for people to discover new cuisines, recipes and foods that match their diet, health or lifestyle preferences. On this journey for millions of Indians, Archana’s kitchen – a food and recipe discovery blog platform founded by an engineer-turned-entrepreneur Archana doshi – helped to discover the joy of cooking.
Today, Archana’s Kitchen is one of India’s leading food and recipe platforms, actively promoting healthy cooking and conscious eating. The platform also offers advanced features like weekly meal plans that cater to specific dietary needs like meal ideas for diabetics, dinner ideas, lunch box ideas and more. What started as a blog for discovering simple and easy recipes has grown into a coveted platform for accessing good health recipes and videos for over 10 million users and followers every month. In 2021, Archana’s Kitchen expanded the scope of the business with the launch of its own range of healthy baking mixes.
Built on the “love of food”
A family that loves food and a mother who collected hundreds of recipes and tried them all saw Archana fall in love with cooking from a young age. “Even though I was formally trained in software development, my heart stayed with food,” She says. As motherhood took over and she was enjoying her free time, Archana was bitten by the idea of writing a recipe book. The idea for a recipe book developed and gave way to a cooking blog. In 2007 she founded Archana’s Kitchen. The big breakthrough came in 2011 when Archana’s Kitchen was launched Google’s first-ever national TV ad. “The ad was a huge boost and I haven’t looked back since,” she shares. Archana’s Kitchen has become one of the most popular platforms for discovering recipes. “In 2011, 1,000 users came to the platform every month. This number has seen steady growth. By 2020 we had over a million users on the platform,” adds Archana. By this time, Archana had also started hosting live cooking classes to share their culinary knowledge.
A pandemic and a new direction
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 became one of the busiest times for Archana’s Kitchen. “With everyone working from home and in lockdown mode, everyone was cooking a lot more. I’ve been extra busy, churning out more videos, answering customer questions and requests to keep up with demand,” she shares.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of live cooking sessions on Zoom for baking cakes, bread and other cuisines. “It also got me thinking about what the next leg of the journey would be for Archana’s Kitchen,” says Archana. By interacting with online users and participants in live cooking sessions, and building insights from those conversations, Archana worked to launch the brand’s in-house food products.
The D2C journey
Archana’s Kitchen’s D2C journey began with the launch of Zero girl Baking mixes in April 2021. “I wanted to make baking easy and healthy for people to do at home by using and not using whole grains and millet girl. The pandemic has helped me take that extra time; from brainstorming, formulating and manufacturing the products to posting them on my website shop.archanaskitchen.comfollowed by e-commerce platforms”, she shares The brand expanded its product portfolio in the coming months to include healthy brownies, cookie mixes and more.
“I really believe that in order to sell a product you first have to understand the needs of the market, build trust and deliver quality. And we’ve seen people increasingly trying to make the switch to healthy eating, even including whole grains and millet in their snacks. And the USP of Archana’s Kitchen cake and cookie mixes is that there are none girl, no eggs and no preservatives. They are made from whole grains like ragi, jowar, bajra, rajgira, oats and whole wheat flour,” she explains.
A critical aspect that was important to the success of Archana’s Kitchen’s D2C journey was ensuring a seamless payment process. “This is a critical but often overlooked aspect when it comes to a D2C brand,” shares Archana. “So when I was working at the start shop.archanaskitchen.com, I also wanted to make sure I had a trusted payment gateway that would allow customers to have a good experience with the least amount of payment failures. When a brand is able to handle the complexities surrounding payments, trust grows,” she says. Given that Archana’s Kitchen already had a sizable audience that they had worked with at various levels, it was all the more important for them to pass on the trust they had built so far at every stage of this new journey as a D2C brand Payments are a critical part.
“After thorough review and thorough research of the various payment gateway solution providers in India, I chose Razorpay.” She says. “Razorpay has been among the safest payment platforms for businesses with high website traffic and a pan-Indian customer base,” she adds.
Confidence in Razorpay’s payment gateway was reinforced by Archana’s own experience as a customer shopping online and the fact that some of the most successful businesses have used the platform. The promise of a highly secure payment gateway with a success rate was extremely important for Archana’s Kitchen to offer seamless and secure customer experiences as a D2C brand. Archana’s Kitchen entered into a partnership with Razorpay.
“Once we signed up with Razorpay, the integration and deployment was easy, seamless and fast. It took less than a day,” says Archana. When onboarding Razorpay, Archana noticed another benefit.“What also really struck me as a Razorpay customer was the extensive range of payment methods offered by the platform – netbanking, credit/debit cards, UPI, digital wallets. This gives customers a lot of flexibility to settle on a payment option of their choice,” She adds.
Choosing Razorpay has paid off. “We’ve had consistently high orders and absolutely no customer complaints about payment defaults. I’m really glad I chose Razorpay.” She says. Archana believes that using automated payment mechanisms like Razorpay helps scale a brand’s D2C journey because they can focus on their core business of selling and innovating products without having to worry about collecting payments from customers . And the fact that the payment fees are small and deposited into your account on time removes a major annoyance for business owners.
It’s still Day 1 as a D2C brand
A year after launching Archana’s Kitchen as a D2C brand, the founder says every day feels like Day 1. “Every day I learn something – sometimes it’s what a customer is looking for, sometimes it’s promotional marketing, production forecasting, packaging and so on. And all of these insights help me deliver value to customers,” says Archana.
As a D2C brand, Archana’s Kitchen’s success today is driven by customer satisfaction, says the founder. “If I have a happy customer and can get another customer through word of mouth and our products have changed their lives, that’s success for me.” She says.
Archana is building the brand’s D2C business and is now working to grow the brand’s online business while continuing to work on listening to customers, incorporating improvements based on feedback and developing new products. “The launch of the D2C business was a major milestone in the brand’s journey. We are excited about the possibilities this journey has opened up for us – as a brand that wants to make healthy cooking effortless.” She says.