A curator with a background in business, Kanika Subbiah is a woman of many talents. (Photo: P Ravikumar)
It arrives at my doorstep in a lovely red box. There are three white cylindrical boxes inside, stuffed with three kinds of exotic and flavoursome cashews—Honey Roasted, Salt & Pepper and Chilli Garlic.
This bouquet from the gourmet section of Cherrytin.com is, to borrow a term from the website, “a royal treat” of sorts. In the carefully curated world of Cherrytin, an online premium gifts’ boutique that went live 45 days ago, and which currently plays host to 250 products across five categories—Silver, Jewellery, Home, Gourmet, Stationery—aesthetics, assortment and design have been intuitively woven together to create two integral experiences—a clean, minimalist, easy-to-use buying experience and a sense of delight for the receiver.
Its Chennai-based, Chandigarh-born and US-educated creator, Kanika Subbiah, is a lot like the brand she helms; an aesthete with a sound understanding of the space Cherrytin inhabits – online retail.
A curator with a background in business, Subbiah is a woman of many talents. She headed the corporate strategy division for The Gymboree Corporation and is starting up her own – Shine (an after-school learning programme for children). She is an engineer with a master’s degree in Business Administration (from the University of Chicago); a generalist who understands merchandising as well as she does inventory planning and logistics, and a creative entrepreneur who conceived the idea of a high-end online gifts’ store nearly 18 months ago. Undaunted by the magnitude of the challenge, she went through the rigour of realising her plan into a website that is as elegant as it is easy to use; interesting, both in selection of products, their packaging and presentation.
Cherrytin is the result of a deliberative decision based on her own background and expertise in the retail business combined with a clarity to cash in on a growing online retail segment in India.
“The challenges of online shopping are aplenty, no doubt,” Kanika says. “But I’m convinced that in India, the deterrents of offline shopping are far more; in that sense, the odds are stacked in favour of online.” For five months or so, simultaneously as a technical team worked on creating an intuitive website whose central focus is user interaction, Kanika and her core team spent time on research to curate and hand-pick the merchandise.
“We interviewed a whole bunch of people on what they’d like to give and receive,” Kanika says, “That aside, what you see, is really what you get.” With high resolution images from across angles to a detailed product story and links to similar items, transparency is among Cherrytin’s deliverables.
As is innovation in product design and personalisation. The latter, Kanika explains, “is easily among Cherrytin’s differentiators,” she says, taking me through the Stationery section that provides a selection of “beautifully designed note-cards that can be customized and gifted in Cherrytin’s signature stationery box”.
Since the launch, and Cherrytin is posting regularly on its Facebook page, Kanika says the response has been positive. “We hope to go wider and deeper in some categories, perhaps add a category or two, but well, always stay true to gifting and the inexplicable joy of giving and receiving”.