This ecommerce startup merges online and offline shopping with a desi twist
Given the busy lifestyle of the average Indian, online shopping comes as a convenient option. Seeing the trend, Gurgaon-based Kautage is merging online and offline shopping, with a cart-to-home delivery model.
Founders: Ratnesh Jaiswal and Ranjeet Kumar
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Gurgaon
The problem it solves: Simplifying online shopping
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
Online ecommerce, as a sector, is seeing its highs and lows in the country, despite the obvious convenience it brings about and the crazy discounts that go along with it. But one thing that cannot be taken away from Indian consumers is our love to touch and feel a product before purchasing it. This stems from a lack of complete trust in the delivery process. Despite their best intentions, and all the glitz that comes with them, ecommerce websites cannot give us that touch-and-feel experience, and there are plenty of complaints regarding delivery of wrong and fake products on a daily basis as well.
Kautage.com, a Gurgaon-based startup, looked at the Indian consumer’s need to touch and feel a product before committing to a purchase as a pain point and ventured into the sector.
"The desi heart craves a little nostalgia every now and then. It yearns to relive the memories of the laidback and bygone era and experience the thrill of discovering and buying products from a cart vendor," says Ratnesh Jaiswal, Co-founder of Kautage.
Founded in 2017, Kautage claims to be profitable right from the first month of its operations. The startup introduces a unique way of ecommerce shopping with its cart-to-home model, which combines the best of traditional shopping with online shopping in an attempt to delight consumers with the freedom of choice.
Primarily into selling bedsheets, quilts and towel sets, the company is soon going to expand to include various other categories of products.
Ratnesh, a graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), is a 17- year veteran of the fashion industry. He served in several leadership positions in top apparel and home-furnishing companies in India and abroad, and acquired the right knack in this business, right from yarn to retail of finished merchandise.
On the other hand, Ranjeet is an embodiment of digital expertise, creative thinking, and effective execution. A graduate from renowned institutions like NIFT and XLRI, Ranjeet also has an experience of over 17 years in digital marketing, retail and IT industry. His body of work ranges from working with major corporations like Walmart to diverse Indian mid-sized enterprises, from rural to urban market landscape. He currently serves as the CEO and co-founder of a leading Indian marketing and PR company called Team Pumpkin.
Ratnesh, who now handles the operations, had actually driven the ‘Kautage Kart’ himself to the very first set of customers the first day of operations. He drove around the cart in Gurgaon area and got a customer who wanted to buy the products. Incidentally, she became a repeat customer within days of buying.
Ratnesh says the distribution of the company is first of its kind in India by having the cart with products go to customer.
While the option of online shopping and the subsequent delivery to doorstep exists anyway, customers can also choose to request for a personal check on the cart items, which Kautage facilitates by collaborating with local delivery businesses. The customer can touch, feel and choose the product he or she wants to purchase and pay by options like cash-on-delivery, PayUMoney, debit and credit cards.
"We are revolutionising the experience of shopping through a unique process - which we have colloquially named ‘vetail’. It's like the whole shop coming to customer’s home for selection. We believe this unique selling point gives Kautage an edge over our competitors."
As the 'cart' kept growing, Kautage now has its reach to nearly million people in Gurgaon area where the cart-to-home model is live.
"It is a profitable venture from the first month itself. The company is seeing nearly 500 products sold a month and growing at a 25 percent, month on month basis."
The average ticket size for the startup is Rs 1,900.
Kautage is completely bootstrapped by both the co-founders. "The business model is devised in a way such that the company has paying customers from Day 1. Kautage is a profitable company from the first month of operations with a handsome growth. We are looking to raise post-seed funds in six to eight months’ time when we have sufficient scale," he said.
He claims that the products are made in the best of manufacturing facilities in India. The expertise the duo have has led to sourcing quality cotton products at a lesser cost, thereby carrying more affordable price tags than most ecommerce brands in India.
Competition for the startup is the vast space of ecommerce. While there are ecommerce players like Flipkart and Amazon on one side, there are also the traditional offline retailers, both big and small. The team believes that its distribution of cart-to-home model gives it an edge over its competitors.
The company, which is now operational only in Gurgaon, is soon planning to expand to Chennai and Bengaluru.
"We went with lot of iterations to get our first vehicle converted as Kautage cart and this journey has been fulfilling. We intend to launch in whole of NCR, Chennai and Bengaluru soon."