How Bengaluru-based startup Baaz aims to be the Shopify of video commerce
In 2017, Chitresh Parihar had exited from his Bengaluru-based software product startup Playlyfe and was looking to do something different.
Reconnecting with Ruben Gregory, who he had met in 2010 at a student conference and who had returned from the US in 2018 after completing his master’s and gaining work experience, led him to a different path.
After conversing for four straight hours, the duo knew they would work together. They looked closely at the content space and by October 2019 started building a video content platform.
Chitresh and Ruben soon realised that retail stores and brands were using live video tools to showcase products, then sending payment links separately via mail or WhatsApp, and shipping products using another service – all this to fulfil just a single order.
The duo launchedin March 2020 in Bengaluru to simplify this process and make it more efficient.
Explaining what they do, Chitresh says, “We provide live video shopping to retail stores in less than one minute. Imagine Shopify, but with the live video shopping experience.”
What does Baaz do?
The startup helps retail stores host live video shows to showcase products from their shops or collections, manage inventory, answer live customer questions, and collect secure and instant payments.
Chitresh says they always felt retail stores needed a new, low-cost, better, and trustworthy way of selling.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns led to thousands of stores shutting down on a daily basis. In this situation, “just having a website and other listing platforms did not work” and the co-founders saw the need for this “new way of selling online” and felt their product was well positioned to help retail stores.
“Live video shopping solves the listing, establishing trust, and marketing problems all at once. But nobody seems to be doing it right. We decided to tackle it ourselves.”
Baaz aims to revolutionise online selling for retail stores. The live video shopping stores let sellers can host live videos to showcase products, manage inventory in real time, collect secure and seamless payments, and send out shipments all from a single mobile app. Customer can experience live video shopping through a simple shareable link, without downloading any mobile app.
The Baaz team now has six members and claims to have done over 200 live shows, got more than 40,000 viewers, and processed over 1,300 orders. The startup has over 50+ customers across fashion, organic, lifestyle, beauty, and books categories.
Chitresh says they are doubling the number of stores month on month. Earlier this year, his friends, Mansur Rahman and Siddharth Gupta, also joined the team to take care of the marketing and business functions respectively.
The workings of Baaz
Baaz is targeting two types of retail stores: those that have been underserved, for them making an ecommerce website will not make sense, and stores that are technologically savvy, sells through Facebook Live or other such platforms and knows how hard it is to work things out once orders are placed. .
“Retail stores can simply download our Android mobile app, sign up, create catalogues, share live video shopping links with customers, and go live. Customers can watch live video shows, chat with stores, browse through catalogues, add products to cart, and check out through online payment or COD. The ordered product will be delivered to their doorstep through our shipping partners,” Chitresh says.
Stores can also telecast their live shows on YouTube and Facebook channels of their choosing to multiply their outreach and audience. Stores can host live shows as they choose - through the week or once every week - with a pre-decided or dynamic catalogue.
“We have also partnered with Shopify, so any store that has a Shopify website will be able to provide live video shopping experience to customers seamlessly using our technology,” Chitresh adds.
Several startups are coming up in this space, either providing listing tools for retail stores or WhatsApp stores. But Chitresh says Baaz provides a “more enriching video shopping experience” through store links that can be easily shared through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, SMS, Telegram etc.
“In simple words, all our competitors provide a newspaper-like experience while we provide a TV-like experience.”
Revenue and the future
Baaz’s product is free to use for all retail stores. “We charge a commission on a per-transaction basis once the sale is made and a subscription fee on few additional value-add services on top,” Chitresh says.
The co-founder adds that overall margins are at 33 percent per transaction.
The idea of video commerce has been growing steadily since early last year. Noida-based Ezmall focuses on a deeper video commerce model while social commerce platforms such as Meesho and Bulbul also provide similar services.
Homegrown social commerce startups onboarded over 10 million resellers, and raised $100 million in funding in the past 12 months, according to industry estimates.
Baaz has also raised angel funding and aims to simplify the shopping experience.
“There are 70 million+ underserved stores across India. We intend to make it pointless for them to have expensive physical stores. With live video shopping stores, we intend to bring the trustworthiness of physical shopping and convenience as well as easy of distribution of ecommerce together at a fraction of the cost to retail stores,” Chitresh says.