Mumbai-based Priya Harjai had been a web designer for 12 years, before she chose to quit her job for motherhood. But sitting idle at home wasn’t her thing. Being into design and the arts, she chose to start her own boutique, Olive by Design – an enterprise that makes exquisite jewellery boxes and gift boxes. Despite having a great line of products, her offline business couldn’t reach too many buyers. A strong online presence was perhaps missing.
But starting an ecommerce platform isn’t really a cakewalk. You have to buy a domain, get someone to design your website (if you aren’t a techie), arrange for a payment gateway, decide on your logistics and what not! Be it due to technical knowledge or financial restraints or unwillingness, a lot of us end up dropping the idea of having our own business venture. Priya also faced the same dilemma.
In December 2014, three Paypal veterans (and potential Paypal Mafia members too!)—Yen Ti Lim, Anurag Avula and Kris Chen—identified this crisis and decided to act upon it. Anurag says, “During our stint at Paypal, we met a lot of small and medium business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to expand or start their business by coming online but didn’t exactly know how to go about it.”
Using their combined experience of over 40 years in the payments industry, the trio launched Shopmatic, in Singapore. The focus was simple: to help entrepreneurs go online.
Priya has been using Shopmatic’s platform since October 2015 and she mentions that there has been no looking back since then.
What is Shopmatic?
Shopmatic claims to be the only company to enable the entire ecosystem of selling online, for their customers. From developing a web store, to listing one on marketplaces and social networks, to giving insights on how to sell online, and to help fix the payment and logistics, they help a user manage everything that is required to help a business grow.
One just needs to have a decent aesthetic sense and business acumen to develop and run their own ecommerce store using Shopmatic’s SaaS platform.
CEO of Shopmatic Group, Anurag Avula, says, “India is home to more than 51 Mn small and medium businesses. Our platform can potentially help all these merchants go online and grow their businesses at a national as well as international level.”
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Getting your business online
Once you register on Shopmatic, you can simply start using its DIY platform to select from a set of design templates that are customised by industry segments including fashion, sports, toys, and urban living. Then you can start building your store by simply choosing different design blocks to complete each webpage. Once you design and customise your pages and content, the Shopmatic platform will ensure that your images and information are displayed consistently across all devices and channels. You will be given the option of choosing a domain name. That will be followed by the enabling of payment and shipping logistics. Anurag asserts that all these can be done in as less as 45 minutes.
Shopmatic manages all the backend integration so users can get their online storefront up and running in the simplest and most efficient way. Shopmatic will also provide the users with built-in analytics that will give valuable insights to help merchants grow their businesses. Accessible through a centralised dashboard, one can easily monitor the volume of sales on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and assess one’s business growth. The platform also has its Business Intelligence tools to identify customer or product segments that are churning the most revenue for a business. With these insights, one can tweak her/his inventory and pricing strategy appropriately to further boost sales.
The startup also helps merchants showcase their products and images on multiple social channels, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as well as marketplaces, like Amazon and Ebay.
Users can view the status of their current inventory and stock levels via the dashboard. This can be customised according to their preference, and that too across multiple channels, marketplaces, and social platforms.
A merchant can choose from a range of payment options that are most relevant for their targeted customer segments and markets. These include cash-on-delivery, bank transfer, credit card, and international payments. In January 2016, Shopmatic signed a deal with online payments giant Paypal to enable its merchants to expand their global sales. The move also marked PayPal’s first tie-up with an Indian partner. The startup has also tied up with Citrus Pay.
On the logistics front, Shopmatic has strategic partnerships with local and global logistics players, like Delhivery. So you can choose the network delivery coverage and pricing option that are most relevant for your targeted audience and market.
The best part is that Shopmatic promises to guide a user throughout the entire process. So, even if a user isn’t confident enough, she/he can safely take the plunge.
Currently, the Shopmatic platform is offering only Retail mode but Business Services, Restaurant, Travel, and Hospitality modes are in the offing. In the retail mode, a user can sell stuff they make (or source), like hand-made jewellery, paintings, etc. Whereas in the business services (coming up next) mode, users, like teachers, architects, actuaries, etc., can offer their exclusive services.
The monthly fee for using Shopmatic’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform is $20 (approx. INR 1370), and half-yearly fee is $120 (INR 8074 approx). Both plans come with a month long free trial period. The yearly plan comes for $240 (INR 16,143 approx), along with three month’s free usage. And, in all three cases Shopmatic gives free shipping credit to the tune of INR 1000. The features remain the same in all three plans and Shopmatic claims that there is no hidden cost across all features and all plans.
Competition and Expansion
Although Shopmatic can be said to have the first-mover advantage in this segment, they are not the only ecommerce enablers currently operating in India. There are companies, like Martjack, and Buildabazaar, that are providing similar services in bits and pieces. And then there are end-to-end ecommerce enablers like Zepo and KartRocket (recently got funded), that are directly competing with Shopmatic.
In fact, Zepo has gone two steps ahead by offering their own logistics solution (ZePost) and providing merchants with personal mobile apps (on iOS and Android) for a better business experience. But, Shopmatic still has the upper hand with their reasonable one-price policy.
The company launched its Indian operations in October 2015, and has offices in Bangalore and Gurgaon. Anurag said that Shopmatic will be launched in Singapore and Hong Kong in a month’s time.
Traction and Funding
Currently, there are more than 2500 users using the platform.
In December 2015, Shopmatic had tied up with Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) to help its merchant members digitalise their offline businesses. CAIT has around 6 crore merchants across 40,000 affiliates. Shopmatic will assist interested members in building their website as well as provide end-to-end facility to enable them sell on CAIT’s ecommerce platform eLala.biz.
Shopmatic is a bootstrapped venture but Anurag says, “We are in talks with a few VCs; for the time being we have a sustainable funding from within.”
Given the features and the highly competitive pricing of Shopmatic, the idea has a lot of potential, but it remains to be seen how far and fast Shopmatic can expand its reach in India. Some of the reasons behind this apprehension are possibly beyond Shopmatic’s scope. According to the World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index, India ranks a paltry 130 (out of 189 economies). Although the government has gone gung-ho about the present startup scenario in India, the lack of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), for instance, will continue to stifle the emergence of startups, especially ecommerce initiatives. Having said that, services like Shopmatic are doing their best to cut down the infernal red tape on the user’s (read: merchant) part.
A 2015 Morgan Stanley report estimated the Indian ecommerce market to grow from $11 billion in 2013, to $137 billion by 2020. Whereas, a 2015 BCG report projected the Indian retail market to touch $1 trillion by 2020. When you add these figures to the rising Internet literacy and an increasing willingness to start new business, India definitely becomes a market where Shopmatic can do magic. And, with some of the ecommerce enablers gaining traction and raising funds in 2016, it seems like this segment will see a lot of action this year.