Virtual store fronts are fast emerging as next generation shopping destinations. As e-tailing projections promise a hundred-fold growth in the coming decade, we can see a huge tug of war between buyers and sellers. Consumer confidence in transacting online, easy payment gateways, a strong offline integration are still some areas that needs some pepping up. Another challenge of starting a business online is the requirement of technical skills, maintenance and timely upgrades for the website. Starting a business online can be cost effective but can reduce efficiency, if not managed properly.
Great Developers Info Tech, a Delhi based startup is trying to help things ease with Start Selling.in. Started by Rashmi and Tushar Agarwal, it helps business owners achieve efficiency and effectiveness in opening, operating and managing a virtual store. It allows users to build their own e-commerce websites in their own domain name on a hosted server, have a site within a site and a store within a store. “All you need is 5-minute process to open your web store,” says Rashmi. The customer needs to sign up and purchase a subscription plan that best suits his/her needs. Each subscription plan comprises certain services such as payment options, number of products allowed in a store catalogue, images to be displayed and other marketing plans. The plans start at Rs 1000 per month and goes upto Rs 30,000 for an annual subscription. On payment of the fee, an automatic personal store is created, which can then be uploaded with catalogue of items and the store is ready for use.
Once the web store is opened, the user is given complete support from the back office in terms of migrating their data, setting up initial catalogue, SEO/ marketing tips, assistance in submitting their products to major search directories, payment gateway credentials, technical and operational support, etc. The owner of the web store/website is also the administrator of the website. There is also a notification module in place which keeps updating users about the activities and status of the store.
The founders feel their competition only comes from Shopify, which operates in the US market and does not have presence in India. The beta version of the site was released in April 2013 and the founders are looking to breakeven within 15 months. Some of the online portals already using their service include IBIS Online, Online Gupta Sports and Aurora Fashion among others.
“It was not easy in the initial days to explain the SAAS model to clients and initial sales was therefore very difficult. Now after 3 months of operations the biggest challenge for us lies collecting the monthly recurring payments,” says Rashmi. The website is actively using online and offline mediums to create awareness; pamphlets, banners, social media marketing, advertisements, etc. are some of the other forms of media being used to connect with the customer.
The website has around 100 customers both free and through subscription and Rashmi says they get average hits of 1000 per day. Next in line is the launch of mobile apps, Facebook shopping stores and third party apps.
We have written about other players in the space who provide similar service. Read more about them here.