Bengaluru-based Goodbox is a platform that provides small businesses with an online presence, helping them connect with their customers through their mini and mega app concepts.
“Don’t tell me about yet another app! Also, as a grocery store near my place, why do I need an app for you?” asked an exasperated yet curious mother of two at a grocery store in Indiranagar.
Hers is a fair question, what with people coming up with apps for pretty much everything. If reports are to be believed, globally, 26 percent of apps are uninstalled within one hour of installation. India, Brazil, China, and Russia have the highest uninstall rates.
“Apps are convenient. But the problem is there are only so many apps you can have on your phone and not everything is used every time. So it is more convenient to keep apps that you would regularly use,” says 34-year-old software professional Karthik A.
Validating this, an article in Apsalar mentions that the smartphones that are popular in India, Brazil, Russia, and China have smaller memories, which is why the addition of one app necessitates the deletion of another. This becomes problematic for businesses, which, in this day and age, need to be online in order to survive and really thrive.
While the inviability of the cost of going online has caused numerous restaurants and grocery stores in India to tie up with apps like Grofers, BigBasket, Swiggy, and Zomato, there are still those that find the idea of using an aggregator platform unappealing.
“Apps like Grofers give us the reach, but they don’t give us customer details and valuable information that we could possibly use to know our end consumer better,” says Shrihari Srinivasan, owner of Eezykart, a supermarket in HSR Layout, Bengaluru.
This is just one business, in one locality, in one city. There are many more such businesses across India, all of which want to be relevant to their consumers and have a mobile presence through an app.
But building an app doesn’t come cheap, which means the only way out for Shrihari and others like him is to opt for Goodbox, which was founded in 2015 to help small businesses get an online presence and connect with their customers directly.
Explaining how they have evolved, Mayank Bidawatka, Co-founder, GoodBox, says,
“Any business wants visibility, wants to be able to connect with their customers. With most other aggregator-like platforms that visibility is taken away, and if they are catering to a customer nearby, they want to cater to him or her themselves rather than get a middle man.”
The business wants to be able to communicate with their customers, deliver what they want, whenever they want, and be able to customise according to their needs. However, building an app is expensive and time consuming.
"I wanted to build an omni-channel-like platform, but I didn’t have the funding needed to build it. And when I spoke to the app developers they said it would cost me anywhere from Rs 30 to 70 lakh, depending on the technical details required,” says Shrihari.
Looking at this problem, Goodbox made it easy for businesses to create a mini app within five minutes and has given consumers access to thousands of mini apps all within the Goodbox Mega App.
Mayank says this solves the problem of businesses going online while giving consumers multiple apps to choose from. For a business, the mini app is like a store in a mall, and for the consumer, the mega app is like the mall itself, where he or she can walk in and explore all the different ‘stores’.
A mini app is like a regular app, with components such as messaging, displaying products/services and their pricing, and an inbuilt online payment gateway. If a business were to try making such functionality a part of its own app, it would cost lakhs to make.
“We’ve democratised this technology and made it within reach of every business at 1/1,000th the cost and time,” says Mayank. The fee for a mini app ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000, all depending on the sophistication needed.
Shrihari mentions that he pays anywhere between Rs 3,000 and 4,000 as an annual licensing fee and he gets everything he needs. One of the oldest customers for Goodbox, Shrihari has seen the platform evolve and grow.
He adds that starting from the chat feature, the app now gives him access to his customer base, an understanding of buying behaviour through their analytics, and even helps with marketing options.
When Shrihari started using Goodbox, it helped Eezykart bring in 10 percent of its customers. Today, with the mega app and mini app, Eezykart gets 30-40 percent of its customers from Goodbox.
“In the past six months, we have had over 400 people come in on the app. The insights are really helpful,” adds Shrihari.
Other businesses that have Goodbox mini apps include The Hole in the Wall Café and Sobha Supermarket.
India has about 50-55 million SMEs. This makes it one of the largest SME markets in the world. These businesses need technology to stay relevant in today’s world of connectivity and for a consumer that seeks convenience.
“We want to provide them with that solution through mini apps so they can remain competitive and compete with strong and well-entrenched online players.
Given the aggregation in all categories, consumers prefer a single platform to get their job done, hence, the Goodbox Mega App for consumers. This saves them the hassle of downloading multiple apps,” says Mayank.
The hyperlocal market isn’t doing too well at present with the likes of Grofers shutting down operations in several Tier II cities and going through downsizing. But Goodbox isn’t a hyperlocal company.
Mayank adds that they have businesses across the spectrum of product commerce, local commerce, and services commerce. He believes that hyperlocal merchants will always exist because they fulfil consumer demands in the fastest and most efficient manner.
Any large online aggregator that tries to replace them will find it difficult to compete. Goodbox believes that they need to work ‘with’ the merchants, not ‘against’ them. Mayank explains:
“Most of the firms you’re referring to tried to replace the merchants and found it difficult to make unit economics work. Our model is not the same. We help the merchant by giving them a mini app, thus making it easier for them to deal with and cater to their customers. So we ride on the existing trust between the two parties.”
“Our immediate focus is to help businesses in India with a mini app while we keep global ambitions crafting the product,” says Mayank.