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Will Betting on innovative E-Retail like Bikayi be fruitful in long term?
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Looking back in 90's small retail local store on your phone, just a click away was a dream. Online grocery shopping today is increasing rapidly because of the demand of consumers. The famous brand names in the same niche, such as amazon, Flipkart, swiggy, and zomato, have already profited from this particular market. Hence, looking at such brands reaching heights small scale business ideas and startups have also jumped into the same river. The online grocery market's evolution has emerged rapidly, bringing out more competition in the same market niche. Startups like my store, dukaan.io, Ghar ki Dukaan, Dukaan online, Krishify Dukaan app, all with 4.5+ rating on google play store, have tried to become India's Amazon.

The startup ecosystem in the Indian e-commerce market has developed over time with continuous demand in various tech-based services such as food delhivery, online shopping, resale, and purchase, going cashless with many payment mediums, etc. to make the lines easier and comfortable. 

Such a startup is Bikayi, which is enthusiastically goal-driven to provide a platform to the small retail shops to get recognition and serve the customers to a wide range. The business is WhatsApp oriented, where the business owner can set up professional-looking catalogs and WhatsApp business cards.

Payment from your customers can be instantly and also support international payments. The platform enables the local stores to market their business and set up their portfolios within 2 minutes. 

Developed in India, this Hyderabad based startup has over 4.3 ratings on google play store (1) with over 10 lakh installs. The app uses a 2.6.0.1 android version or above. It enables to function free online catalog, which can be shared as a website, WhatsApp messages images, video, or PDF by just uploading the product images on the application when the business catalog is created.

 

Government’s initiative to give more than a nudge to your first E-Commerce business

India has secured $500 Billion in online grocery marketing in good time mentioned by the register report in 2019. the survey cited by IBEF (2) shows an increase in investments in Indian E-commerce, and consumer internet companies in India received more than 4.32 billion from private equity and venture capital players in 2019. E-commerce growth is in demand and is expected to grow at 1,200% by 2026 to reach $84 billion in 2021. The government seems to be a significant push by introducing many government policies such as a startup India scheme by the commerce and industry ministry to promote industry and internal trade (DPIIT) and digital India scheme.

  1. The Startup India scheme offers DPIIT recognition by the government. “Under the startup initiative, eligible companies can get recognized as start-ups by DPIIT to have access to a host of tax benefits, easier compliance, IPR fast-tracking and more” mentions in the official site of start-up India scheme. DPIIT provides :
      1. Self-certification
      2. Startup patent application & IPR application 
      3. Tax exemption under 801AC
      4. Section 56 exemption 
      5. Ways winding up of a company
      6. Easier public procurement norms
  2. Digital India scheme by the ministry of electronics and information technology, where the flagship promises a union to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge says on digital India’s official site (3). The official government site gives a more detailed overview of its functions to help the consumers in e-commerce and digital marketing and other variants developed by India’s government. It creates a chain of the network for the mom and pop stores located in our local neighborhood. As per it, is a government recognized it is legally valid with no fear of fraud. The government recently organized virtual global submit on AI India RAISE 2020, responsible for AI for social empowerment from 5oct-9oct 2020.

 

How Bikayi netted the big fishes?

Y-combinator backed bikayi wanted to make the application user friendly for the local businesses owners. Recently the B2B start-up bagged almost $2 M investment through mantis ventures. When interviewed, the co-founder of bikayi, the facts rumored that the motive seen of such a raise in the funding was the VC funds’ limelight. The mantis itself is a massive name in the field of investing companies. They were a $50 M VC fund that put their hands on new potential start-ups. Mantis took the deal of investing in an Indian venture for the first time with bikayi. The other famous names in the news to invest in the startup-like bikayi are y-c, pioneer funds, angel investor Ankur Nagpal, and are eager to invest in such potential businesses.

The co-founder also mentioned that these investment funds would hire more talent to grow product development, ramp up the business venture, and work with millions of new merchants. The founders Sonakshi Nathani and Ashutosh Singla are proud to make bikayi a one-stop destination for retail owners or merchants who wants to start and run an online business.

More than 53% of their merchants attract from tier 3 and tier 4 cities with a population between 15,000 to 110,000 or less from primary to regional economic loss.

The venture is netting over 2 crores on a routine basis mentioned by their business statement. The product attracts merchants from small to huge, from grocery stores, manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers. The application offers a payment gateway and order tracking with manufacturers’ preview through images and general information about the manufacturers for genuine authenticity and valid proof of this business’s availability. 

The company offers services through different packages starting from the lowest 167 rs per month or rs667 per month for premium tools are provided by the company.

 

What the funding partners have to say about Bikayi?

“Bikayi’s founders combine a deep understanding of their small business customers with top-tier product execution. We loved that their product makes everyone’s lives easier while fitting naturally into the way business is done. The resulting growth has been phenomenal,”

says Tim Suzman, General Partner at Pioneer Fund (4).

Ankur Nagpal said, “bikayi has excellent potential, and I am excited to invest. This idea is the best in the entire YC batch. The startup has tremendous opportunities to become the storefront of choice for the millions of small local businesses in India- they make the venture both local and personal, which is essential to exceeding India’s e-market. Growth numbers speak for themselves.

 

Effects of the pandemic on small businesses

Pandemic panic buying 

Psychologically human behavior has a different reaction to act on various crises. Uncertainty makes us feel insecure of which we have no control over. The announcement of the spread of the Covid-19 world health organization declared pandemic worldwide. People amassed necessities in bulk to run through online for months. Everyday groceries like medical supplies, over the counter medicines, hand sanitizers, masks, toiletries packed ready to eat food, bread, eggs, milk, etc. the rampant behavior soon made online and offline stores struggle with high demand, and supplies became gouging. The mob mentality tests people psychologically to respond in a specific manner as others to stock up groceries without understanding the difference between essential wants and unnecessary validation of availability of products and why to be left out with less or no resources during the pandemic lockdown.

From customer behavior to supply issues, everything has changed in the retail business since the news of the spread of coronavirus worldwide, with continuous demand and the companies’ remarkably adapting to the changes.

India being the world’s strictest covid-19 curbs, accelerated small businesses and small retail owners to online marketing. People being still cautious about the covid-19 spread the offline business have taken advantage of this indoor personalized marketing space from one buyer to another. Keeping the prices competitive for the field during the lockdown, Indian business owners had an idea about the downfall of re-opening their outdoor ventures even after the ease of lockdown. Without wasting time, small retail owners started communicating with customers directly through WhatsApp by video calling the customer to showcase demos products and responding to the queries regarding the product. In fear of loss of customers, this offline to online shift was indeed rapid but smooth.

India is the second-largest consumer when in the consumption market. It has all interfaced online. Hence, the growth of online retail business in months accelerated with India’s cheap data, and half a billion or more internet users fanned the flame towards e-commerce. Different platforms, such as bikayi small business owners, increased their activity online through social media and other platforms. Today, online selling is not about e-commerce, but past customers’ present with good reviews and ratings influences their buying decisions. Social media platforms such as Facebook came up with a “boost with Facebook,” a global digital skill program, has advanced the medium to use Facebook for business purposes. Other platforms with the same hype in e-commerce are Instagram and WhatsApp. To grow their offline business to an online platform where there is a zoo of various mediums and companies trying to run the same race to have an excellent capability to reach heights through their business. For online recognition, there are various enrolled courses available for the start-ups and old business owners to understand the depth of e-commerce and how to attract consumers online who are stuck to digital multimedia 24/7 searching from everything to anything for their homes to bring comfort in their life.

 

The big get bigger than ever

The big brand names such as Amazon, Flipkart reliance have been in the race, resting eyes on consumer demand algorithm to function accordingly in the retail e-commerce business. The function of bringing everyday goods to the consumer’s door-step has been the idea since these big brands have established the century and regular updations regarding the same. The small retail outlets were in shadow, but with the rise in the spread of covid-19 when due to lockdown in nationwide it was utmost important to bring the necessary products to the consumer to their homes leaving behind the outdoor business. This took a flight during the lockdown where the need for goods was at its peak, and due to the survival instinct, the retail shopping hit a boom in just 6 months. Now it’s not only the massive names in the e-commerce sectors, but the small retail businesses also have stepped in with their unique ideas to compete with big brands and reach their consumers at door-step.

“Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted (5) says he expects e-commerce will ultimately represent 25% of revenue”. They were agreed as the consumer is everything. To make their needs at ease and be their regular beck-and-call is the strategy every brand has to focus on when trying to enter this ocean of e-commerce where the big fish eat the smaller ones for survival. There is no choice for the brands except to sell the products directly to the customers where all the brands in the same niche are trying to do the same, which includes transportation and delivery charges to reach the consumers.

Even the big brands have to compete with the new start-ups with great potential ideas, which has shaped the outlook of e-commerce in a very youthful and energetic way. The trends that have the most raging shift to chase the seat in this train of e-commerce is the decline of retail stores, which were once the primary sales medium for the brands to reach the customers; now the retail stores and small businesses have reduced or mixed being part of the big brands there is less brick-and-mortar exhibition space for the manufacturer’s products. 

The strategical shift of selling directly to customers has proved to be developed in online sales, increasing their digital sales on average about 17.9% through online retailers and manufacturers, compared with any other merchant on the group level, which affects more and above to 19.8% shift in the online e-marketing and e-commerce. Even the famous brand names have competition with the new generation manufacturers where they offer innovative and fresh ideas, promises to respect enviroment, social-oriented for the recognition of their brands connecting with the strategy of empathy with the age and the struggles and promises to spend there earnings to the needy and underdeveloped, which is why it is difficult for the big brands to work from the ground level as the way of start-ups and learn about the actual thought process which combines to make the consumer decide to buy the product or service.

 

Every good comes with a challenging price

E-retailing numbers 10% of e-commerce in India, and with the rapid growth, it has the potential to only evolve as a medium. But with potential growth spurts, e-retailing has its drawbacks, which cannot be ignored when it comes to a significant retail market in Indian e-commerce. 

  • India being a developing nation, still lacks high-end products and services as that compared to countries like U.S. logistics plays a very crucial role when it comes to online retail market being fragmented with inadequate infrastructure facilities even if development is in full swing with many innovative government schemes for the people of the nation still we lack quality. Delivery of products to the consumer, packaging, authenticity, and other priority services are crucial challenges for Indian online retailers. The high priced logistics in our country is due to inadequate infrastructure. Hence, such services are purchased or loaned at a higher price than the actual price in the nations it is manufactured in. the most common retailers such as Flipkart and Amazon have built their logistics as Flipkart has e-kart for the process of delivery. Another drawback is the lack of proper investment in the field of technology and logistics when it comes to India, where other countries don’t have to face such a problem as 50% of their investment is done on the part of the enhancement of technology for the smooth run of e-retail businesses. 
  • The tax regime in India is the most complicated constrain that online retailers face. With frequent changes and new laws and renovating the old ones, it is laborious for the retailers to keep up with the heavily loaded tax regime the Indian government asks to follow religiously. Different states have different nonuniform taxes VAT(value-added tax). Octroi, entrance level taxes, and multiple point taxation in the country, followed by various governments, risk the growth of future prospects of online retailing. Taxes on the state-level sale of products where the retailers are charged according to the warehouse located in the state affect the products’ sourcing and delivery. Goods and services tax provides a slight relaxation, but it seems the fancy version of challenge in the future run.
  • The obstacle of an impression of a product’s touch and feel has been a mental barrier for customers regarding an online purchase. To meet the ends with this challenge, the manufacturers have to provide the best virtual experience to the customers so as they don’t feel the urge to compare the touch and feel of the product. Providing various angles of the product and making short informative videos about the product for reference may help gain the consumer’s attention. Still, it comes from mental peace when purchasing something online and where the investment has to be made for the customers’ hard-earned money.
  • The consumer is king, and the consumer’s satisfaction is the topmost priority; hence, making the bond worth with consumers is a task. Some online retailers have a lack of impression when it comes to trust and loyalty with customers. The foreign companies have set a significant standard for most retailers and to match their customer service and dedication is something that takes time. 
  • India restrains FDI 100% in multi-brand retails, which is compiled with e-commerce acts as well. For B2B e-commerce 100%, FDI is permitted but not fit with B2C e-commerce acts. For B2C e-commerce retails, the government allows only 51% FDI with brick-and-mortar operations. The platform providing potential buyer and seller productive relationship is presently followed in the marketplace by most e-commerce and e-retail manufacturers, resulting in narrow margins, speedy service and delivery, and restricted control over the product. This restriction can affect the production and expansion of the prospects of the online retail market. 

Well, with the e-commerce wave, all we can do is go with the flow, take risks, and indulge in the positives that it offers. The transformation of marketing commerce is constructing all around us for the better technology-friendly enviroment for our generations. The market and brands are experimenting continuously with various factors and functions to compete, not from others, to make their brand better for consumer recognition. Serving customers through e-retails like bikayi, digitaldukaan, my store, famous brands like Amazon, Flipkart, reliance are cutting edge in the field of e-commerce rapidly. Commerce is consumer-focused and is raised from any medium online, offline everywhere the hands could reach n the market for the customers. The bright future of the upcoming and in function start-ups have a long road to go. Still, with the level of innovation and dedication definitely, we can conclude that e-retail has brought reasonable and only fair to the lives of commerce where we never thought of the availability of products from our home and to grow a business sitting at home and interacting with customers face to face virtually. This could only be possible with growth in the technology sector in India. 

It gives satisfaction that small retail our local Kirana stores also have recognition in this high-end competitive market. We can only hope for the best positive outcome of this resurrection. India’s economy’s stability will be represented by e-commerce and e-retails worldwide; the direct to consumer and personalized selling leaves back the traditional retail business methods. Whereas the rapid growth can sometimes lead to rapid fall and the market can be unpredictable, the balance between the demand and supply can be shaken at any point in time. 

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A sociology postgraduate, keen learner with a vivid imagination I consider writing is all about liberating the outlook of a reader towards the idea. Passion for writing as a reader with a conversational approach is how I like to play with words.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article have been curated for our audience and does not warrant a 100% accuracy. All the information mentioned in the article is subject to change according to the changing viewpoints. Feel free to reach us at [email protected] for any change or copyright issues.

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Dhriti Choudhary
Dhriti Choudhary
A sociology postgraduate, keen learner with a vivid imagination I consider writing is all about liberating the outlook of a reader towards the idea. Passion for writing as a reader with a conversational approach is how I like to play with words.

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