Today, with extensive use of technology in charting behavioral patterns, one would expect seamless connect between shopkeepers/retailers and their customers. Reality appears to be a bit different however. There are hardly any mechanisms for an offline retailer/business owner understand what her/his customer wants. Chennai-based Anand Krushnan identified this growing discordance around small businesses, when his father who himself is a small-business owner, pointed it out to him. Baffled, Anand reached out to his colleague, Manish Mehta on how to address this gap that exists and hinders growth for small and medium businesses.

Realising that this is a problem which possibly plagues millions of businesses in India, the duo set out to found Exclusife in 2013, a customer management tool for business owners to understand their customers better and use it to enhance their growth.

For a business owner, it is difficult to distinguish between new, occasional and frequent customers. Neither there are any analytics available which can provide the potential buying capacity of a customer vs another. When it comes to customer retention, an offline retailer has no way of wooing the customer back except for waiting for them to return during the next store sale.

Exclusife tries to solve this problem by introducing a platform for retailers and customers to connect with each other. Taking its name after the French word, ‘exclusif’ which implies exclusivity, the company set out to create an ‘exclusive’ club for SME retailers across India who set themselves apart from others in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.

How It Works

Exclusife acts like a sales acceleration application for Indian retail SMEs. It allows businesses to capture real-time information about all their store decisions. It helps customers to save time and money by making smart shopping decisions and also by highlighting offers in local stores and boutique businesses.

From a business owner’s perspective, it helps in enhancing the customer’s in-store experience. When a customer walks into a store, the retailer has no prior knowledge of the customer’s  preference, neither can they invite the customer back. That is where Exclusife is trying to change the game.

After downloading the app, a customer can use it to collect and analyse information about all (both online and offline) store visitors. The Exclusife app offers its services in nearly all the retail verticals, i.e., including apparel, beauty products, electronics, footwear, furniture, games and entertainment gifts, food and fitness. Since a retailer can be privy to the information searched by customer, he/she can use targeted messaging and promotions to attract the customers.

The end goal is to increase sales of the businesses and retain customer loyalty. Exclusife can be considered as an effective customer relationship management (CRM) tool for all SME retailers in India.

In 2013, a study by market research firm Zinnov had stated that India is all set to become the largest SME nation globally.

According to Manish, India is home to over 14 Mn SMEs in India. The market is poised to grow at a 15% CAGR. “That represents a market opportunity in the billions.”

Monetization And Traction

Exclusife charges a fixed subscription fee of about INR 3000 per month from each retailer-customer.

Since its inception, the Noida-based Exclusife has partnered with over 3000 retailers and is present across over 25 cities in India. The startup claims to have a reach of over 85 lakh consumers till date with its field offices in 16 cities and over 325 people working for the company across India. It plans to reach over 100000 customers in the next few years.

The company has ambitious plans for global expansions. Manish is of the opinion that south-east Asian countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia etc. have familiar retail patters as India. This makes them potential markets for Exclusife.

That is not to say, the global market is without any competition. Indonesia-based Kudo is a startup that builds physical ecommerce kiosks across stores which accepts various forms of payments. In Malaysia, Tapway, a Google analytics for physical stores, is trying to bridge the gap between online and offline retail by empowering brick-and-mortar stores.

Editor’s Note

According to a report published in Live Mint in 2012, SMEs contribute at least 35% to exports, at least 40% to industrial production, around 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and provide employment to about 60 Mn skilled and unskilled workers. Despite the promising numbers however, at the end of the day, it is these offline players who bear the brunt when ecommerce players maneuver the system.

While Exclusife is trying to bridge the gap between SMEs and their customers, the biggest challenge that lies in front it is the fact that traditional business owners are still reluctant and often ignorant about the power of technology. But the fact remains that SMEs are waiting to connect with their customers in a more meaningful way. Exclusife has to proactively reach out to empower traditional business owners with technology and help small and medium business owners build a lasting and fruitful relationship with their customers.