E-commerce has taken the world by storm with Amazon and Flipkart recently raising huge rounds of funding and capturing a large audience because of the ease of use and convenience. But there are a few drawbacks to shopping online and there are consumers who still prefer to buy their products locally to avail better after sales services and other benefits. What if we could have the best of both worlds? Purplista aims to do just that.
What is Purplista
Purplista is a product finder for local stores. In this day and age when we have many e-commerce websites gunning for the pole position, Purplista wanted to create a solution for local retailers.
Let’s face it, local retailers are not going to go away, and internet proliferation in their daily business is very low. So Purplista created a solution where local retailers could also be easily accessible to the new-age consumer as are the e-commerce websites.
A user can just type in the name of the product, and Purplista will let you know all the places where it is available around you, at what prices and if it’s available in the store right now. All this in an elegant map based UI.
If you like a product you can buy it right through Purplista. This would be like buying from a store, but from the comfort of your home and the store will deliver it to you on the same day. So as a user you get the benefit of complete local shopping, online! This is the perfect shopping win-win situation.
They also have a service called Buy by 2, wherein if a user places an order before 2PM they ensure that it is delivered to your address within the same day or even within a matter of hours at times. As these are all being delivered from local stores, they can even deliver it to users at particular times also, just like the way one orders flowers from a local florist.
Team behind Purplista
There are three main people in this organization .The team comprises of a mix of MBA, engineers and mentors with 15+ years of experience.
Siddharth Srivastava is an MBA from AIM, Manila with 6+ years of experience in consulting, product sales and ITIL service delivery.He is an avid bagpacker, with a passion for sales. He takes care of business functions like marketing, investor relations, sales in Purplista.
Vijay is an MSc Computer Science with 7+ years of Software development, ERP implementation , Java and Open source technologies implementation. He has worked for 2 startups, loves to play with code, contributer to many open source technologies and an active member in stackoverflow. His Responsibilities include development , maintenance, and data uploads at Purplista.
How Purplista came about
It all started when one of the founders came back from the US. He was looking to purchase household articles. The full page ads that come in newspapers did not help at all. Most of the ads did not even have product numbers listed on them. So the only way to get the best products and price was by running from one store to another. This is where the idea struck to have a repository of all the products that are available locally. This idea then turned into an initial prototype and then the full-fledged Purplista.
While there are multiple solutions out there to sell online, there was nothing that a normal shopkeeper could use and form a connect with the new-age consumer. Purplista is the only local store shopping website as of now.
There are multiple location based marketplaces, but none of them cater to local stores. Everything that Purplista sells is from local stores. They don’t just bring the products that you are looking for, but they also open up the local stores, and local shopping market. A consumer can now visit the local market from his or her home/office itself. From a retailer's point of view they are able to connect to potential consumers who have not even left their homes, leave alone walking into one of their stores. These are the customers who would have completely given the local stores a miss, if not for Purplista.Challenges faced
One of the initial challenges the team faced was to explain this service to local retailers. No one had heard of such a service. They had only heard of Just dial where they have to play ‘fastest finger first’ and call the customer immediately. Hence the team had to take them through the initial learning phase before they could win their trust. But once they had their trust, it was very easy to get co-operation from the retailers. Now they have very good relations with a huge number of retailers.
At present, a good deal of infusion has gone in from founders. They have also received a round of angel funding from a US-based serial entrepreneur. They are currently operational in four cities which are Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Hyderabad and are open to first round of funding for geographical expansion.
As this is a local shopping website, their intent is to have small sales and data operation center in each city where they set up operations. The main development and head office will remain Bangalore. The team is clear about their operation strategy as the 4 cities they are in have already taught them the way to streamline multi-city operations. They intend to start in four more major cities by the end of this year.
Pain points from POW of customers and retailers
Local shopping has always been a complete blackbox area, and Purplista is solving the pain points from the perspective of both customers and retailers. It’s not uncommon to hear the new-age consumer say, “I only shop online, why bother to sweat when everything is available at your door step.” This is the new trend they are catering to. From being a complete blackbox they are opening up the local markets like never before now.
From a local retailer’s point of view a lot of them have already tried their hands at e-commerce and failed. It’s not easy to compete on the internet where you are not readily visible everyday like a physical shop.
Given the nature of business they are in, market is almost as big as the total local market. It’s a huge opportunity to tap in all these stores and businesses where very little has been offered to them from the internet side.
As insiders, the founders noted that local retailers in India are very smart. Sooner or later they will overtake the buzz around online shopping either with their offers or services. IBM in its top 5 trends has predicted that local shopping will take over online shopping in the next 5 years.
Trade off: Making money and following a dream
“I think the trade off can only be in making money or sleeping every night with a lot of satisfaction, yes money crunch hits all of us as we are in the nascent stage right now, but we all have this belief that one day we will make it all worthwhile. There is no plan B,”Siddharth Srivastava, Co-founder of Purplista, said in a parting note to Yourstory
You can check out their website here.