While penetration of e-commerce has equipped customers to access a wide selection and options at fair and discounted price-tags, it also poses tremendous threat to brick and mortar stores. Consequently, in the past, we witnessed instances where offline retailers were up in arms with the brands against discount-driven approach of venture capital funded online retail stores.
Local merchants lack the advertising and marketing muscle compared to online retailers (e-tailers) backed by investors. Like e-tailers, they need to understand their users' demographic profile and buying habits depending on time and day of the week, and roll out personalized and instant offers to the customers.
To equip offline retailers with technology- Ritabrata Bhaumik, Rana Haldar and Anuraj Ennai launched Beaconifi. It provides a local discovery platform for retailers, restaurateurs and services providers (house painting, laundry, tire puncture repair, etc) to connect to consumers and provide them personalized offers/discounts and home delivery services.
Genesis of Beaconifi
The idea is to provide a platform to brick and mortar retailers that will help them survive against their formidable competitors doing online business like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, etc. We will be the BigBasket for the neighborhood kirana stores, metaphorically speaking.
Sometimes the customers may not know of the offers and availability of the items in their very neighborhood, resulting in lost opportunity for the local merchants. “This is where our platform can help the local merchants be easily discovered by their customers regarding offers/discounts and availability of the products,” adds Ritabrata.
Team behind Beaconifi
Ritabrata is an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Bangalore. He worked in the technology domain for two decades in various capacities. In his last role, he was Senior Manager at Accenture India, where he was working with various fortune 500 clients in the telecom vertical.
Rana did his engineering from BIT, Sindri and has designed and delivered various telecommunication switching products and VoIP solutions across the globe. He rolled out different mobile technologies on Motorola mobile devices for a decade.
Anuraj worked over a decade at Motorola researching and implementing enterprise mobility technologies. He holds MS and executive management degrees from Illinois Institute of Technology and IIM-Bangalore.
How it works?
Beaconifi has consumer as well as merchant facing apps. While consumers discover stores, restaurants, on demand services (like painting, plumbing, tire puncture repairing, etc) in the neighborhood, BeeKoun merchant Android app is a self sign-up app for merchants to list themselves for on-demand services.
Rana points out,
we sensed there is a big demand in the market for products that can help brick and mortar retailers to compete with the online stores in understanding and recording the user behavior and targeting the offers and deals accordingly.
Size of opportunity and road ahead
Presently, the total market size of Indian retail is $525 billion as per Ernst & Young estimate. Out of which 5% ($25 billion approximately) is typically the promotional/ advertising budget for retail. Beaconifi aims to grab a major chunk of it.
The company is ramping up its marketing strategy to cover a specific area of Bengaluru first, measure effectiveness of adopted marketing tactics, and then fine-tune the relevant tactics and expand reach to other areas of Bengaluru. Rana Says,
By the end of 2016, we are planning to list 100K merchants and board a million customers.
Beaconifi is also looking to secure angel round in next two months.
The company primarily competes with Mumbai based Niffler and PayMango. However, Beaconifi has horizontal approach and covers entire gamut of hyperlocal discovery, delivery and offers space. Importantly, Niffler and Paymango do not list service providers while Beaconifi does.
Of late, we have seen most of hyperlocal startups aim to solve delivery pain -points across categories including grocery, vegetable, food and on demand services like plumber, technician. Chauffeurs, etc.
Startups like Paymango, Niffler and Beaconifi are helping local merchants to leverage technology and allow an in-depth engagement with consumers. In future, this space and growth of aforementioned startups would be exciting to keep an eye on. Stay tuned for more update.