Infiniteworx Pune based start up launching an ecommerce platform for microlocal ecommerce
Local retailers are getting their mojo back!
The unassuming ‘bhaiyas’ and ‘chachas’ of our localities, who sell from paan to pin and everything in between that we need in our daily lives make the world’s largest base of homegrown local retailers. Every morning over 50 Million local retailers open their shops across the country to serve about 900 Million odd consumers. Various studies of India’s retail market estimate that over 90% of India’s $650 Billion retail markets are serviced by our local retailers. Their contributions are impressive on the employment generation front as well. Collectively India’s local retailers contribute to more than 150 Million employments in the country. While their contributions are indeed impressive, but their current state of affair is not.
The shift in consumer behavior
There was a time when the local retailers used to be our only choice to fulfill the daily shopping needs. There was no need to attract consumers - opening the shop in the morning was enough. For generations, our local retailers are continuing with this age-old style of operation. However, with the advent of organized retailers like malls and online shopping platforms, the table has turned. The market has shifted from seller’s to buyer’s market as consumers are now being showered with product variety, discounts, convenience and most important, customer service experience. The study shows that at least one in ten consumers from India’s urban milieu has tilted towards organized retail and the percentage is growing rapidly spilling into semi or non-urban localities as well. Due to this shift in consumer behavior what used to be the only choice for buying daily needs has reduced to fulfilling petty or quick needs. With dwindling footfall, reduced transaction values and the ever-increasing cost of operation, our local retailers have indeed got themselves into a precarious situation!
Though the number of organized retailers (malls and online) in this country is still minuscule compared to the collective force of India’s local retailers, however, consumer’s growing affinity towards ‘experience’ led shopping has already made these organized retailers a force to reckon with and they are growing at a breakneck speed. Use of latest technologies, top-level sourcing tie-ups and deep pockets have enabled the organized retailers to offer variety, cost-savings, and convenience to the consumers – benefits that our local retailers are struggling to match.
So, will the world’s largest network of local retailers take the hit hands down or is there a hope for them to bounce back?
“Of course, there’s hope!”, says Anil Pagar, Founder, Chairman & Managing Director of infiniteworx™ omnichannel(www.infiniteworx.com), a Pune-based startup working towards empowering India’s unorganized and informal business sectors with innovative technology tools and business efficiencies. “Not just hope, I am talking about a definitive action plan towards creating a level playing field for our local retailers across the country”, continues Anil, who has closely studied the local retail space for over six years before architecting myretailworx™ (www.myretailworx.com), India’s first and only eCommerce platform exclusively catering to the local retailers.
The inspiration for myretailworx™ has its roots in Anil’s unique concept called microlocal™ eCommerce that aims to foster eCommerce at mohalla (locality) level of this country and in this process create a vibrant ecosystem involving local entrepreneurs, their consumers, and suppliers. Elaborating on the concept, Anil says, “microlocal™ eCommerce reimagines Digital India as a collection of homegrown eCommerce hubs spread across the length and breadth of this country; the core idea is to drive the adoption of eCommerce at grass root level by empowering the local entrepreneurs, who represent our country’s vast network of the unorganized and informal sectors. When they jump onto the eCommerce bandwagon India is assured to transform into eCommsuperpower. It’s a model for massive employment generation as well”.
Explaining the purpose of myretailworx™, Bijoy Banerjee, CEO of infiniteworx™ says, “At the core, it’s about bringing back consumer footfalls into our local stores. For a growing number of consumers shopping locally is much less charming compared to buying from malls or online, because such channels offer a better experience, deals, and convenience. myretailworx™ is poised to make local shopping vibrant & exciting or as we say, make the local shopping fundaar!”.
After successfully vetting the idea in the metro as well as in tier 1 and tier 2 cities covering Kolkata, Pune, and Rajkot, the company is geared to make local shopping fundaar! in five thousand localities by the end of 2018 and aims to cross one lakh localities by 2022. Talking about the journey ahead, Bijoy says, “In the first twenty-four months of operation we aim to empower fourteen lakhs local retailers across the country, who are not within the eCommerce realm at this point. This will result in a superior shopping experience for at least forty million consumers right in their localities and generate employment for thirty-five thousand fellow Indians”.
While initiative like this is unprecedented in India’s retail history and could permanently disrupt the competitive landscape between the organized and local retailers, however, the company must need to mitigate several challenges towards successfully implementing this initiative. For one, there’s definite challenge in reaching out to the millions of widely spread local retailers across the country and motivating them to embrace eCommerce. Moreover, there’s a language issue, there’s a culture issue. Commenting on these aspects, Anil says, “We have worked out quite a few new ideas while architecting myretailworx™. One such is creating India’s first and the largest community of eCommerce champions, who take this mission forward in their localities across the country. Never ever in India, a commercial operation has been orchestrated through local community participation. In this process, we are encouraging local level entrepreneurship and sizable employment generation in various forms”.
The local community-based operation is certainly a noble idea. But, how the distraught local retailers will present themselves as attractive shopping destinations against the mighty malls or online counterparts? What about the last mile delivery? “We are investing in localized warehouses across the country to support local retailers with the competitive supply chain. This is the first time local retailers will have the ability to get direct benefits from the manufacturers. Our platform also helps the retailers to promote themselves within their consumer base and since the delivery is on us, the retailers do not find themselves choked on bandwidth and can concentrate on customer delight”, says Bijoy.
Seems like myretailworx™ has covered all the bases. But, how about the competition from the big brands in organized retail? “Our mission is not to dethrone the existing channels. We simply want our local retailers to get back their mojo; moreover, the market is so immensely huge that even multiple channels can easily coexist with each channel scaling stunning growth. So, nobody really needs to worry that market space may be squeezing out. What we all should think is how retailers in India can bring better value propositions to the consumers, in an inclusive manner”, says Anil.
With the launch of myretailworx slated for July 2018, looks like Indian retail is set to witness a massive disruption that will benefit the retail industry and the country alike.
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