Some time ago, the popular snack brand Haldiram’s did not sell its products online. But today, they have a colorful website, selling hundreds of sweets and savories. They have more than one lakh users every month, thanks to a Pune-based startup, Shoptimize, which set up their entire e-commerce platform.
It wasn’t an easy task, but the startup did the same for 100 other Indian brands that only function offline.
“There has been a shift in brands’ behaviors. They want to be online. Haldiram’s wanted us to take care of their existing website, but they weren’t really thinking of selling their products on it. We had to make them think along those lines, and convinced them that it was necessary to develop the e-commerce aspect of their business,” said Mangesh Panditrao, CEO and Co-founder, Shoptimize.
When this two-year-old startup, founded by Mangesh and Vivek Phalak, promises brands an e-commerce solution, they don’t just mean website development. They mean they will help set up everything, from user interface design, to logistics and various relevant integrations.
According to Mangesh, the reason behind starting Shoptimize was that they realized no solely offline or online brand was successful pan-India.
“An online business cannot do that well in a retail store setup, and a brick and mortar store cannot compete with an online business. We wanted to help offline companies make this transition seamlessly,” added Mangesh.
Shoptimize helps brands build and grow their offline business by creating online stores for them, integrating payment gateways and logistics, generating traffic for the online store and social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter etc. They also boast about being the only global company that provides the brand with an integrated app along with an online platform.
The initial setup fee for the e-commerce solution can vary from Rs 15,000 to Rs 2 lakhs, depending on the complexity of the business. After the initial setup, brands pay Shoptimize a monthly fee based on the number of orders they get.
They currently cater to more than 100 brands across the country, including some well-known names like Haldiram’s, Camlin and Ekbote Furniture in Pune.
"Though these brands were popular, they weren't getting enough orders. This is why we thought about building a separate product to help brands generate traffic," said Mangesh.
That was how the idea for their second product – Cooliyo— germinated in their heads.
Also, they had already raised about $750,000 from Mohandas Pai-backed Tandem Capital (read previous YS story here) and four other investors, so access to money for experimentation was the least of their concerns.
“We wanted to build something that would help shoppers find interesting products online and create an impulse within people to make them transact online. Cooliyo is exactly that,” said Mangesh.
The social shopping app, launched in January 2014, helps shoppers discover and buy lifestyle products. It personalizes the shopping experience by displaying relevant products that the algorithm thinks the user will like.
It displays a curated product catalog from popular e-commerce websites like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and Jabong, and also from small niche players. Products curated are put into the following categories: apparel, shoes, accessories, art and home décor.
They use a marketing method called feed commerce, which means that all targeted marketing content is displayed in the live feeds of users. Cooliyo also sends product links to registered users on Whatsapp.
As of today, the app, available on Android and iOS, reaches out to almost two million users per week, and has a user base of over three lakh registered users.