This Nagpur-based startup is bringing a hybrid shopping experience to small towns
The Indian retail sector will be a $1-trillion industry by 2020 with the e-commerce share being $60 billion. Yet, Indian retail remains an unorganised sector, with a wide gap between offline and online retailers. Here’s a space that Nagpur-based startup GetNowAt discovered.
GetNowAt is an omni-channel hybrid shopping experience specifically tailored for Tier-II and Tier-III cities. This means customers can place orders over the Internet, through a mobile application (getnow.at/app), over phone or by WhatsApp. Based in Nagpur, the startup has over 10,000 customers, more than 3,000 app downloads so far, and caters to over 2,000 orders per month. It is currently serving several verticals including kirana, fresh produce, sweets and namkeen, cakes and bakery, electronics, mobile and computers, home appliances and has plans of expanding into ticketing and medicines soon.
The offline-to-online space
GetNowAt founders feel that offline retailers are still scared of technology. “Fifty seven per cent of all commerce in India happens in the food and grocery space. The terms ‘hyperlocal’ and ‘near-commerce’ describe all commercial activity happening within a few kilometre radius of where you live. And all of this is still happening offline,” says GetNowAt Co-founder Jayesh Bagde (35).
“We decided to enter the offline-to-online (O2O) space and bridge this gap through a technology platform, backed by great service guarantee. We have built a platform for on-boarding local retailers and bringing their inventory online. We help them directly connect with customers, generate orders, do store pickups, provide same-day doorstep delivery and also handle payments,” explains Co-founder Shailesh Deshpande (36), adding that they wish to use technology as an enabler and not a barrier for their customers.
In June 2015, GetNowAt closed a pre-seed round from Mumbai-based investor Atulya Mittal, after Jayesh made a pitch at a VC-CIRCLE event.
“Their enthusiasm for their bootstrapped business and accomplishments influenced my decision of investing in GetNowAt. I liked the drive with which they were approaching a very fundamental problem: how the store around the corner competes with our on-demand economy,” says Atulya.
Like-minded serial entrepreneurs
Jayesh is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded Touristlink.com, apart from being COO of Holiday.com, GoTrip India Pvt Ltd and Salt Lake SMS India Pvt Ltd. He had launched GetNowAt in November 2014 as a solo venture. Around the same time, Shailesh—a Virginia Tech alumnus—had launched his co-working space, Indieloft, in Nagpur. The two met at a Nagpur startup meet-up and eventually decided to join hands.
Together, they built a scalable and viable business model and provided an online platform to local vendors for their inventory. “We charge commission for each delivery. There’s no fee for on-boarding sellers on our platform. We charge a success fee to the seller only for successful transactions. There is no extra charge to the customer,” explains Shailesh.
But is GetNowAt the first of its kind? What’s the competition? “Considering that 57 per cent of all retail commerce in India is groceries, we are looking at a total market size of $570 billion. Assuming about 40 per cent of this is in metros, the Tier-II and Tier-III markets are somewhere around $340 billion. There is plenty of depth in the market for bigger players to enter as well as for multiple smaller, regional players to grow,” says Jayesh.
“We look at larger e-commerce players and on-demand delivery players like Grofers, PepperTap, Big Basket etc., not as competition but as potential strategic partners. We are in preliminary talks with some VCs and investors for our next fund-raise,” explains Shailesh.
GetNowAt is currently focussed on consolidating the local demand in Nagpur by acquiring more customers. “We’ve recently launched 'Kirana as a Subscription Service' that has shown promising early numbers. We’ll be focussing on unit economics to build a profitable and scalable business, starting a B2B vertical to handle big-ticket buyers and expanding to other Tier-II cities,” he adds.
What has been their learning?
Some of the learning shared by GetNowAt founders are:
- Everything is not hyperlocal: Certain product categories are inherently better suited for local commerce than others.
- 100% in four hours is usually better than 50% in 90 minutes: Speed of delivery is important but not always the customer’s top most criterion for evaluating service; fulfillment rate is equally vital.
- Word of mouth is king: Personalised customer service goes a long way in helping reach the target audience, much more than advertising and discounts.
- Complete disruption isn’t always necessary: Sometimes it is better to emulate the customer’s current behaviour rather than trying to disrupt it right away.
“I admire anyone who dreams of building a big, globally competitive business while living in a smaller city or town. Just as a reverse brain-drain had brought me back to India from the US, I hope smart people come back to their hometowns. The India growth story will be real only if everyone benefits from it,” says Shailesh.