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Skip The Global Formula, Find The Right Fit For Indian SMB Needs: Dukaan’s Suumit Shah

Skip The Global Formula, Find The Right Fit For Indian SMB Needs: Dukaan’s Suumit Shah

Accounting, commerce, productivity and marketing are among the key areas where there is ample scope for dukaantech startups to solve the problems being faced by SMBs: Suumit Shah

While building products for the Indian SMB market, there is no need to compare them with international ones in terms of features

Indian SMBs willing to pay for product solutions if they are up to the mark and different from similar free solutions already available in the market: Shah

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is a major contributor to the Indian economy. The concept of ‘dukaantech’ came into prominence in the 2020s with the sole purpose of enabling the MSME sector, or local sellers, to go online. In the last few years, with the smartphone and internet penetration on the rise in the country, several startups have emerged in the dukaantech segment to power small businesses and shops to enable their digital presence.

These dukaantech startups leverage their Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms to help the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) go digital. However, some of the startups catering to the Indian SMB segment might be prone to building features similar to those of international brands like Shopify, which might not be the ideal thing to do, believes Suumit Shah, CEO and founder of Dukaan.

Speaking at the second edition of Inc42’s The Makers Summit, Shah said that while building products for Indian SMBs, entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that what works internationally might not work for India.

Shah said that thinking in the Indian way is the key to catering to the Indian SMBs. 

He believes in dividing the Indian SMBs into the early majority, late majority and laggards. According to him, the early adopters and innovators in the SMB segment are already trying to use international solutions, such as Shopify, when it comes to the commerce space. 

So, the early majority, late majority and laggards should remain the main focus in India, and products being built for them should consider India-specific issues such as understanding of language, technology and so on, Shah said. 

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Besides, in the course of building their products, entrepreneurs need to focus on 10 key areas, including overall user experience, usage of regional languages, feature prioritisation, creating a niche approach, consistent UX patterns and customisation, to build better trust, he added.

“India is a country of mistrust and still there are people who don’t trust technology products,” said Shah, adding that tech startups need to assure these SMBs that their products are real and they can solve the issues being faced by them.

A similar theory works for Indians in the area of language. With multiple languages spoken across the country and uneven distribution of population understanding English, bridging the communication gap with the use of vernacular languages is also a key, he said.

Another key focus area for these SaaS platforms while building products for Indian SMBs should be speed.

At a time when the average attention span of users on any platform is somewhere around two seconds, about 64% of smartphone users now expect their websites to load in four seconds or less, said Shah. Besides, a majority of India has low-end devices and slow internet speed.

Hence, improving the speed is of utmost importance while building these products. 

In fact, Shah said, Dukaan improved its ecommerce checkout rates to about 9% from approximately 4.7% by optimising its SaaS platform for speed by improving server response time, optimising java scripts, among others. 

Accounting, commerce, productivity and marketing are among the key areas where there is ample scope for the startups to solve the problems being faced by the SMBs, Shah said.

“In these four areas, lots of SaaS solutions are being built, especially for the Indian SMB needs, which are getting enough traction,” he said.  

Saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the market opportunity, as more small businesses are now showing a willingness to adopt technology, Shah said the scope is also growing year-on-year.

While there is a lot of scepticism about the willingness of Indian SMBs to pay for product solutions, Shah said the businesses are willing to pay, but the solutions need to be up to the mark and something different from similar free solutions already available in the market.

“India is a very price-sensitive market, and whatever is available at free of cost, people would always pick that,” he added. Thus, targeting the right target group with the quality product that caters to their needs is the key.

Shah launched Dukaan in June 2020 along with Subhash Choudhary. It is a no-code platform that enables merchants to launch their ecommerce websites in a few minutes and scale them on the internet. 

Since its launch, the dukaantech startup claims to have enrolled more than 3,000 merchants on its premium subscription plan so far.

Dukaan raised $11 Mn in a Pre-series A round led by 640 Oxford Ventures in September last year. 

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