The pandemic has resulted in a lot of changes on the ground. One of the most prominent of these is reverse migration and increased online buying in Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities. On one hand, several kirana stores across cities and towns pivoted online, while on the other, many young professionals and graduates moved back to their towns driving rural consumption and demand.
Since the consumption pattern has seen a paradigm shift in smaller towns due to the pandemic, many companies have now moved in to support the merchants and businesses by offering digitisation support and several incubation hubs are mushrooming in these towns.
While established players like Flipkart and Amazon, through Samarth and Flipkart Wholesale and Prione respectively, are betting heavily on the rural entrepreneurship story, the ecosystem is also witnessing new players like eSamudaay, aiming to decentralise e-commerce. eSamudaay is creating a network of digital entrepreneurs in Tier 2 and 3 cities of India to own and run local commerce (LCommerce) marketplace. It is a SaaS platform that will enable the local entrepreneur to set up the marketplace. But the sourcing, selling and delivery will be done by the producers. The digital tools will help local entrepreneurs to source, sell and deliver products and services. eSamudaay does not own these marketplaces. It is a technology provider, and they say the idea is to empower entrepreneurs.
Anup Pai, Founder and CEO, eSamudaay says, ‚ÄúLCommerce is e-commerce optimised to a local area. It will be set up and operated by aspiring digital entrepreneurs who wish to own an e-commerce marketplace in their hometowns. Each LCommerce will also have its own super app that will bring together producers and consumers and promote e-commerce within the community.‚ÄĚ
He adds, ‚ÄúThrough this initiative, we envision the emergence of Local Digital Platforms and a network of Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs), each being a locally owned company operating a local digital marketplace for the benefit of the local community.‚ÄĚ
Another platform that is aiming to tap into the social commerce space is ShopG, which says that it is powered by community leaders, who are micro-entrepreneurs in Tier 3 towns. Ankur Arora, co-founder of ShopG says, ‚ÄúToday, there are 700 million internet users in the country but less than 10% of people buy online, which means the majority is not buying online. We understand their core challenges and have created a network of community leaders who instill trust among the customers in their social circle.‚ÄĚ
He adds, ‚ÄúThese community leaders acquire the customers on ShopG app and train them on how to place an order on the app. They help acquire customers, aggregate orders and also handle last-mile delivery and by doing this, it becomes almost like a zero-customer acquisition model and a 10x better supply chain model."
ShopG deals in FMCG, beauty, personal care, kitchen and home appliances at affordable prices. While they have a central warehouse in Bengaluru, ShopG also works directly with small regional brands that do not have the resources or the reach to go to a Tier 3, Tier 4 town. Many of these regional brands do not even have money to advertise in those towns. ‚ÄúWe identify those brands, check the quality of these products, and then these products are introduced via the community leader channel at great discounts to the customer,‚ÄĚ says Ankur.
ShopG has also introduced products under their own label for customers living in Tier 3 towns.
eSamudaay recently launched in Udupi and the platform has enabled over 50 local businesses to go digital. It has so far launched grocery services, restaurant food deliveries, and is looking to launch farm products and pharmacy service on its Udupi exclusive app.
‚ÄúI was introduced to eSamudaay by one of my friends who used their platform to build an online shop on what he called ‚ÄėUdupi‚Äôs Digital Marketplace‚Äô. I was intrigued by the concept of a local digital marketplace that was supported by a large organisation and I signed up,‚ÄĚ says Asit Amin, who owns a restaurant called Dollops in Manipal.
He says that the service from the company was prompt and local staff who attended to him were well versed with the businesses in Udupi and Manipal. He further says, ‚ÄúSince signing up, I have received steady orders from eSamudaay which have been growing. Service has been good and customer feedback has also been good.‚ÄĚ
ShopG, too, has created a product-market fit in Tumkur, which has a population of five lakh. ‚ÄúWe have helped 1000+ women become entrepreneurs and are serving one lakh people in the town,‚ÄĚ says Ankur. eSamudaay wants to develop at least 100 LCommerce platforms across India in smaller towns like Warangal, Chamarajnagar, Chandigarh, Nashik, and Shillong in the next 12 months. In the next five years, they aim to empower over 5,000 entrepreneurs to run their own local e-commerce initiatives in the country.
‚ÄúShopG wants to go after 300 Tier 3, Tier 4 cities and create a network of four lakh community leaders (women entrepreneurs). We want to impact the lives of 40 lakh customers and create a Gross Merchandising Value (GMV) of Rs 5000 crore and introduce 400 of our own products as well,‚ÄĚ adds Ankur.