What a week this was! Five days of what felt like a never-ending online bonanza. If you’re like us we’re certain you would have been glued to your PC or mobile phone trying to shop till you drop! Interestingly, every year the numbers reach a new high — Flipkart claimed to have sold products worth Rs 1,400 crore, twice more than what it sold in a single day last year and which is more than the entire modern trade retail industry’s single day sales. Not just that, every year there seem to be many more buyers moving online with current numbers being pegged at nearly 100 million (10 crore) shoppers.
So, while many online sellers hit record numbers every year, what of our beloved offline retail stores? According to market estimates, India’s fast growing retail market is now estimated at close to $625 billion of which only $15 billion is e-commerce, however, the impact of the fast-paced shifts from offline to online commerce, are increasingly making it tough for small retailers to compete.
It’s high time that the next door retailer becomes tech-savvy and creates a business model that will allow him to offer the same convenience to us as the consumers as online does.
“While the numbers for online commerce seem minimal compared to the overall retail market, make no mistake that the retail stores and small business owners are already facing the impact of this fast-paced shift towards online buying. Electronics as a category is most impacted followed closely by fashion, a category which will be next in line to feel the impact.” says Anurag Singh, Co-Founder, markt.ooo — a platform that enables retail stores and small businesses for e-commerce.
Come to think of it, an offline store that makes its products available online can offer great benefits that can sometimes be unmatched by online. For instance, if you wanted to pick a quick gift for a party you have to attend this evening, it could be delivered to your doorstep in under 90 minutes. Imagine what it would be like when the sales season comes — no one likes the crazy queues, but everyone wants to shop from their favorite stores — we know we’d love to be able to shop from the hundreds of stores that are on sale from the comfort of our home all in one place!
An e-commerce start-up in 2016? Isn’t it too late!
E-commerce has evolved to new heights in past six years, showcasing new achievements along the way. But it’s just the beginning — at least so seem to think the folks at markt.ooo. There were three things that made them create something new for this market — first, with e-commerce booming there was a looming threat to retailers and small entrepreneurs who did not have any means to participate in online business — solutions were either too complex or commercially unfeasible. Second, by 2015, the e-commerce market had actually become a mobile first m-commerce market, but none of the marketplaces were utilizing the inherent features of mobile devices — especially none to make things easier for sellers; and third, all the players who focused on local retail were too focused on delivery and grocery and thus neglected other products that too had an urgent need to participate in online commerce. Moreover, there was no ‘marketplace’ where local buyers and sellers could meet and transact.
Looking at these gaps, markt.ooo created a product that makes it super easy for retailers and small businesses to take their in-store products online. “When we spoke with our target sellers they all came up with a similar set of challenges that were deterrents to them going online. One, there was the cataloging problem, and two, it was not just difficult to sign up to existing online marketplaces but also commercially unfeasible because of high margin charges,” says Singh.
Sanjeev Tagra, Co-Founder & Tech Lead at markt.ooo adds “If you have an existing Facebook page, our mobile app allows you to setup an online store in 30 seconds and have you ready to sell with a product catalog in minutes. And when we say minutes we literally mean minutes”. Users can setup the store, upload products right from their phone, collect payments via all leading online banks and also get delivery support. We at iGrow wanted to be sure of this claim of minutes so we decided to give it a shot – and we kid you not we were able to get our store online in exactly under three minutes. We also got a custom domain http://markt.ooo/igrow and can now use this to promote our store across facebook etc. The app also allowed us to share Product Cards from the app to Whats App, Facebook and Instagram – these cards included the product details with images MRP, description etc. and we didn’t have to do a thing except post it.
What was also interesting was that markt.ooo’s shopfront operates as a zero-commission marketplace. The founders tell us that a commission based approach was simply unfeasible for many categories like Electronics. They instead have an interesting business model where they charge a store for every successful order they give — Singh says “We essentially see this as a convenience fee paid by the store for the ease with which they got an order, and hence this allows us to offer a fully success based fee approach that really works for store owners”.
The market is full of marketplaces it would seem, but interestingly there are over 14 million retail outlets in India – but most leading marketplaces have enabled only a few hundred thousand sellers. That leaves a huge number of sellers still unexplored. Moreover, none of these marketplaces are designed for retailers and small business owners.
It, therefore, makes it an interesting play for markt.ooo. Tagra does caution that “Execution will be key. There are other players in the similar space and the only thing that can set apart one from the other is execution. We’re just a few months old but are already getting some good inputs. But we’ll be keeping our heads down and executing”. We think they have made a good start and with the easy signup and the zero-commission marketplace approach they should etch out a space for their product among a large number of still to go online businesses.
In time we also see this platform bring an ease of buying for consumers that has so far not been offered.
While the e-commerce market will continue to flourish with products and platforms like this offline sellers no longer need to be threatened by online commerce and instead can capitalise on the opportunity.
How do I sign up – Is there a criteria?
“The only restriction”, quips Tagra, “is that you should have a physical establishment i.e. a retail store or a home-based small business.” At present, markt.ooo is operating in Gurgaon, they plan to expand this to Delhi/NCR so sellers from these markets are alone being on-boarded currently. To know more about them visit markt.ooo from a PC, the same link will take you to the shopfront from a mobile device.
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