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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Lifestyle

Retail therapy
Sneha Mahale , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 28, 2013
First Published: 13:10 IST(28/8/2013)
Last Updated: 17:22 IST(28/8/2013)

Online retail is projected to grow to $76 billion by 2021, accounting for over five per cent of the Indian retail industry, according to a report by advisory services firm Technopak. That is not hard to believe looking at the number of websites mushrooming on the World Wide Web. But a few are going a step further by taking on innovative social campaigns to give back to society.

“Our initiative is a little different from regular e-commerce sites. We are looking to empower people through education in terms of animal-related laws,” says Ishmeet Chandiok, whose Pets Are People Too is just over a month old, and offers merchandise, information on pet-related events as well as pet advice.

For Divyanshu Asopa of 21fools.com, it was watching the National Anthem shot at Siachen Glacier that sparked off their initiative. He says, “It was at that moment that I decided to send greeting cards to soldiers who protect us along our borders. The idea was to convey our gratitude.”

Apurv Bansal, co-founder of Wishpicker.com believes that everyone wants to contribute when it comes to giving back to the society. As part of their latest initiative, people could wish lesser-known Freedom Fighters on Independence Day. He says, “Once you have a platform, it becomes easier to reach out to the masses. We simply acted as the medium to connect the nation with our Freedom Fighters.”

Help animals
The merchandise section, which includes items ranging from pen drives and fridge magnets to dog collars and pet food, allows people to express their support towardsanimal-related cause. “We have received positive responses from netizens. However, since we are just over a month old, we do not have large numbers. But the word is spreading,” says Ishmeet Chandiok, founder of Pets Are People Too. The margins from the merchandise sales allow them to maintain the site. Chandiok adds, “Our campaigns shall be centred towards increasing the empathy levels towards animals. Our current initiative is to advocate and promote the adoption of Indian breeds of cats and dogs.”

Wish Freedom Fighters
Wishing lesser-known freedom fighters was their first initiative on wishpicker.com, which offers unique gift ideas by occasion, relation with recipient, and personality. “However, looking at the response that we have gotten from across the nation, we shall be conducting many more initiatives in the future,” says Apurv Bansal, co-founder. The initiative is primarily a means to give back to society, as it takes a large amount of time and effort to organise and manage. The founders reveal that it received tremendous response by netizens. “We got text, photo, audio and video messages. The campaign was live for about eight days, and we received close to 900 wishes for the Freedom Fighters,” says Bansal. Also, considering how well it was received, there are plans to launch another similar initiative on Gandhi Jayanti.

Make a soldier smile
The founder says when it comes to 21fools.com, they have a simple vision: to make the world a happier place using meaningful products and by sharing experiences. “The initiative to send thank you cards to soldiers in August 2012 was our first. We were able to send 1,670 cards. Such initiatives certainly increases traffic as it makes people curious,” says Divyanshu Asopa, founder. And the campaign has caught on. This year they were able to send 10,000 thank you cards and rakhis to soldiers. “We also introduced the concept of ‘Pay what you wish’, where a person could choose the price of card instead of we telling them that they need to pay. The experience was quite incredible. The same card was bought by a person for Rs100 and for Rs20 by another. Next year, we want to make one lakh soldiers smile,” says Asopa.

Support NGOs
The retail giant launched the eBay India Charity Fundraising programme in June 2005. The initiative looks to create awareness, raise funds and list products and merchandise from recognised NGOs for sale.


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