Coronavirus: Fintech startup Perpule’s StoreSe platform is helping people get their hands on essential items
Before India announced the first phase of the coronavirus-related lockdown on March 21, some apartment complexes in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad had already started restricting the entry of delivery executives and domestic helps. To top it off, supply chain issues – caused by the complete lockdown – made it even more difficult to get deliveries on time.
It was then that Abhinav Pathak, Saketh BSV, and Yogesh Ghaturle conceptualised group-ordering platform, StoreSe, which serves mainly apartment complexes.
“We enable apartments to have a dedicated storefront for their apartment to order from, and in the backend we tie up with stores like More, Vishal Mega Mart, Metro etc., to service those orders,” explains Abhinav.
“We consolidate those orders on the StoreSe platform, and pass them onto stores so they can keep it ready. Then we get Ola/Uber drivers to pick up and drop these items from stores to the apartments, thereby ensuring they too can manage their livelihood in these tough times,” he adds.
The startup is currently serving over 1,600 apartments in Bengaluru. Some of the other cities on its list include Delhi, Mumbai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Jaipur, Surat, and Patna.
From Perpule to StoreSe
StoreSe is part of the fintech startup Perpule, which was founded by Abhinav, Saketh, and Yogesh three years ago.
The trio took inspiration from one of America’s biggest shopping festivals held on Labour Day sales, where they saw brands engaging with customers via huge sales initiatives. They noticed long queues outside brick-and-mortar stores – sometimes even up to 500 metres long – and realised this problem could be solved by building a fintech platform that eliminates queues by facilitating faster and easier checkouts.
They then met in Bengaluru and launched Perpule – a startup focussed on making retail easy. Till date, the company has raised capital from leading venture capital companies like Kalaari Capital, Prime Ventures, Venture Highway, along with angels such as Raghunandan G of Taxiforsure.
The trio turned their focus to StoreSe after they received several calls from retailers and public servants, urging them to find solutions to help take retail stores online during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Our team at StoreSe had a few sleepless nights to ensure we got the platform up and running to list hundreds and thousands of stores, and enable online grocery ordering for them,” says Abhinav, adding this was the first time some of the big grocery chains were taking kindly to the idea of going online to service their customers, especially at a time when they themselves were operating at 20 percent capacity.
“The other big situation was handling logistics – to ensure thousands of orders moved from stores to customers, every day. That's where cab drivers came to the rescue and played a pivotal role in making all of this happen.”
StoreSe is currently being run completely by the Perpule team, which looks after co-ordination between customers, apartments, stores, and logistics partners. The internal team works seamlessly on calls and videos.
How does it work?
To use StoreSe, customers need to simply visit the platform, select their apartment, choose the items they need from the product catalogue, pay for their order online, and have it delivered to them in less than 24 hours.
If the residents don't find their apartment listed, they can create an entry for it under the "list your apartment" option, and promote it within their apartments to generate ‘upvotes’ from other residents. Depending on the number of upvotes and demand, the StoreSe team will onboard the apartment and start extending their services to residents there.
New apartments are typically onboarded within 72 hours. For deliveries, StoreSe has partnered with cab drivers through leading cab aggregators.
“It may take months to build a platform like this from scratch and integrate it. Building operational excellence, etc., would have also taken months to streamline. But since we had the expertise of working with leading grocery retailers, it was fairly easy to use our existing technology and retail relationships to launch a platform like this within days,” says Abhinav.
In the first seven days of operations, StoreSe ensured over 95 percent fill rates (average percentage of items delivered for every order) for the orders, along with a guaranteed delivery within 24 hours, both of which are considered as gold standards of online grocery services, the company says.
Traction and market
While the team did not share exact numbers, it said that it takes a share of the revenue – per order – from the store owner, along with the delivery fee paid by customers.
StoreSe says it will add nearly 3,000 new apartments to its platform from its waitlist by the beginning of May. The revenue, customers, and orders are growing at the rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, week-on-week. The company expects to cater to at least 25 new cities by June-end.
Currently, StoreSe competes with the likes of Dunzo, Bigbasket, Swiggy, and Zomato. The demand for essential deliveries has also forced these players to tie up directly with brands and distribution hubs for timely deliveries.
Abhinav believes there’s a lot of scope for a player like StoreSe in the grocery-delivery space today. Of the $40 billion-worth ecommerce industry, grocery delivery is under $2 billion, and organised players still hold only a very a small share of it.
"The team at StoreSe is focussed to scale the platform 100x this year and take it to as many cities as possible. Beyond just big-box retailers, we are also starting to onboard small nearby stores (kiranas and local supermarkets) to the StoreSe platform to further increase the selection and give wings to the local retailers across India,” says Abhinav.
Edited by Aparajita Saxena