With a platform where buyers get to choose the price, JingleBid aims to change the way India shops

Channelising a network of hyperlocal traders in cities across the country, JingleBid’s reverse auction model is changing the rules of the e-commerce game by putting the control of a purchase in the hands of the buyer.
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Extensive wishlists, loading up the shopping cart with unbought items and hopping between websites to get the best deal — that’s usually how most of us look for the best bargain while shopping online. But, what if the tables were turned and it was you, the customer, that could choose a price which suited you best ?

E-commerce startup JingleBid has turned this idea into a reality with its online reverse auction platform, which enables buyers to start auctions for consumer durables and gadgets and choose among sellers at a price of their choice.

The platform taps into the vast network of neighbourhood-friendly hyperlocal stores to deliver goods across cities. So, it’s like going to a neighbourhood store to shop for an item, except it’s the buyer who has the last say when it comes to the price.

JingleBid's story can be traced to 2018 when its co-founders, Krishnan Naranapatty and Sudarsan Babu, had a conversation about creating a platform where the sellers had to bid for consumers and for the lowest price. However, Krishnan felt they needed to brainstorm a bit over the idea.

The penny dropped when Krishnan was shopping for a refrigerator in the scorching Chennai heat over the weekend a few months later. “I spent Saturday researching the kind of product I wanted and went from shop to shop looking for the best price on Sunday. I narrowed down the choice to two sellers and eventually went with the second guy as he offered me the best deal. I even got the product delivered the next day. This kind of made it clear that Sudarsan’s idea could be turned into a workable business model,” says Krishnan.

The duo went on to launch JingleBid as an exclusive platform for merchants who were looking to serve customers locally with a ready stock and met their other co-founders — Srivas

Anantharaman and Venkatesh Kanan — while looking for angel investors. They officially launched operations in May 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic.

JingleBid is now ushering in a disruption in the e-commerce sector by giving buyers more leverage over the product and its price. With a monthly growth rate of 30%, JingleBid's gross merchandise value for FY 2020-2021 was Rs 16.85 crore and it fulfilled around 1,550 orders during the period.

“We realised early on that JingleBid would be an operations-heavy company. We knew that partnering with merchants across India and meeting financial regulations would be among challenges we would have to overcome in due course of time,” said Krishnan.

The competitive edge

But what sets it apart from other e-commerce models? “Most e-commerce models today are driven by inventory and prices that are set by a seller whom no one knows. JingleBid puts the control of a purchase back in the hands of the buyer,” explains Sudarsan.

According to the team, it’s a demand-driven platform that benefits both the buyer and the seller. The average time taken to close a deal on JingleBid for most categories is an hour. Be it a refrigerator or a mobile phone, you can easily buy almost any consumer durable good on JingleBid and have it delivered at your doorstep in the same amount of time as a pizza delivery would take.

Striking a good bargain

The backbone of JingleBid’s business model is its network of trusted corner store sellers. Not only do they get paid for every lead that they send, but they also earn a marketplace commission on deals and can advertise on the JingleBid’s platform. Moreover, other benefits like brand insights, product insurance and an integrated payment gateway make it ideal for hyperlocal traders who’re looking to capture a bigger share of the e-commerce pie. Currently, JingleBid is leveraging a network of 2,255 sellers for its deliveries.

Talking about what inspired them to tap into the network of small scale merchants, the JingleBid team said that most such traders want more control over what they sell, how they sell it and the products’ price.

“Meanwhile, we also felt that customers needed more choices in products. With JingleBid, we tried to combine the power of online shopping and the ease of buying from a trusted neighbourhood store with good service and optimal price,” says Srivas. JingleBid empowers hyperlocal markets and ensures last-mile connectivity.

The team aims to bring in more small players under the ambit of this unique model and sees considerable potential in the B2B space where JingleBid can act as an extension of a company’s purchase arm, or even completely outsource it.

Surviving the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic tested the resilience of JingleBid’s business model, and the startup passed the test with flying colours.

“We officially launched operations in May 2020 when the pandemic was at its peak. When other e-commerce marketplaces suspended operations due to the lockdown, we were able to operate with our network of hyperlocal sellers. We saw a customer start an auction for a laptop in Sathankulam, near Tuticorin. A seller in Tuticorin placed a bid for it and was able to deliver the product the same day, despite the restrictions,” recounts Krishna.

He goes on to cite another example of a software company that started auctions for four laptops for its employees who were working remotely from different cities in India. “We were able to deliver the products in just three days despite the pandemic through our network of sellers,” he added.

With an aim to revolutionise the way India shops, the JingleBid team sees itself charging ahead with ‘e-commerce 2.0’.

“We strongly believe that we are getting closer to making ‘e-commerce 2.0’ a reality. We represent the alternative commerce model that India needs. With the right team and resources we will be able to scale it to great heights. We aim to be a pan-India company by the end of 2022. The team is in the closing stages of raising a million dollar round with the focus on geographic expansion and building scalable processes and technology,” says Venkatesh.

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