Those funky socks from Primark, that deliciously thick cup of hot chocolate, the red top you saw on the Bershka website — where on earth would you find them in Mumbai (or anywhere else in the country)? We have no idea, but we’re positive that Concierge India would know. And unlike their identities, these are well-guarded secrets they’d be more than happy to reveal.
“It’s exhilarating to track something arcane that a customer has requested,” says Ayesha Malhotra, who has been roped in to handle marketing and external relations for Pune-based Concierge India that was set up in May. She revealed her name to us quite reluctantly, and flatly refused to give us the names of the company’s founders. “We don’t talk about the people behind this, but we’re happy to talk all day long about the idea itself,” she says in her email to us.
It all began while they were living abroad. “Our friends and family would constantly ask us to bring things like vintage wine, elaborate poker sets, baby clothes, fancy shoes, etc for them.” The problem wasn’t that things weren’t available here; it was that most people didn’t know where to find them. That’s where Concierge India decided to step in. “We want to support home-grown, high quality Indian businesses, by connecting them with a growing pool of eager consumers,” she adds.
The service has been very well received, which works as sufficient motivation for the moment. “We are pleasantly surprised at how nice people are with their feedback and encouragement when we manage to deliver,” says Malhotra. When someone sends them a request — either a written description or a photo — they help track that product or service. It takes them anything from a few hours to a couple of days to source something. “We send them the info for free. Then it is up to the person to coordinate with the vendor to arrange for delivery/ fulfilment,” reveals Malhotra. “We’ll do our best to give you the most economical vendor options, because we love a bargain as much as anyone else. But quality and trendiness come first. We target an affluent, well-travelled, cosmopolitan audience that can appreciate the finer things in life.” This is exactly the kind of audience they have — “Our favourite one so far was a request for invisible shoes (made of mirrored glass). This customer was undeterred by the insane price tag —
Rs 2,13,898.” A keen trekker also asked them to look for photos of the toilets along the Macchu Picchu trekking route in Peru! “We tracked these down from a Peruvian travel agent, and also sent the client a detailed description of the living conditions along the trail!”
Sometimes they’re bombarded with several requests for the same thing. That’s when they seize the opportunity to run their own sales. “We received so many requests for rainboots as the monsoons started, that we imported a batch of designer rainboots to sell,” explains Malhotra.
So do they ever say no? “We won’t source anything illegal,” answers Malhotra. That doesn’t stop the requests coming in though. “Particularly heartbreaking was a request where someone with cancer wanted us to help find an early-stage drug in trials in Cuba. Because of all the regulatory restrictions around something like this, and the fact that the trial enrollment was done, we weren’t able to help.”
Write to them on their ‘Concierge India’ Facebook page, or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
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