This Delhi-based startup is building for a phygital future of shopping for Indians
While ecommerce has certainly taken off amid the COVID-19 outbreak, offering convenience and a plethora of options with just the touch of a finger, it also brings with it a severe lack of trust. While shopping online, people also tend to receive products that are poor in quality, experience long delays around refunds, and exchanges also pose a huge challenge.
That’s why, for Indians, the love for assisted shopping isn’t long lost as shopping is considered a social activity, with many people still valuing the touch and feel.
Founded in August 2020 by husband-wife duo Poornima Vardhan and Taponeel Mukherjee, Delhi-basedis creating an omnichannel-hyperlocal retail model for neighbourhood lifestyle stores. The model converts unorganised lifestyle stores into 335bazaar experience centres.
Founders Poornima Vardhan and Taponeel Mukherjee
Taponeel Mukherjee, Co-founder, 335bazaar, tells YourStory, "Our vision is to offer a billion Indians a great shopping experience through the seamless interaction of the online and offline worlds."
The business has two main pillars: 335bazaar experience centres that offer a mall-like experience to Indian consumers at affordable pricing via a direct factory-to-consumer model, along with social commerce via live streams that use technology to offer live deals, group shopping, and entertainment.
The company has launched two experience centres in Bhogal (South Delhi) and Madhu Vihar (East Delhi). It plans to open 100 stores in the next six months across all neighbourhood markets in Delhi.
How consumers buy from 335bazaar?
There are four ways 335bazaar enables consumers to buy from the platform. The first is livestreams, through which the startup doesn’t just push a product, but also provides consumers with a seamless entertaining shopping experience.
The company also brings the store to the consumers via video shopping. The third is BOPIS - Buy Online, Pay In-Store, through which 335bazaar serves its consumers who prefer the convenience of online shopping with the experience of offline shopping.
The fourth is through a hyper-local and digitally connected offline mode, which provides consumers with both the products and the desired experience.
“We at 335bazaar are transforming the entire value chain of unorganised retail via technology and business model innovation. Our consumers decide what they want, and it's real-time,” says Taponeel, asserting the they are focusing on the most important word of the next decade – ‘phygital’.
Both Poornima and Taponeel are ex-investment bankers and did their MBA from The Wharton School and INSEAD respectively. Previously, Taponeel advised multiple retail businesses, and Poornima ran a direct to consumer brand.
At the startup, Poornima and Taponeel focus on building the business and the core strategy.
“We have over 13 years of combined Indian retail expertise – from contract manufacturing to distribution across top 50 Tier-I, II, III and IV cities in India,” says Taponeel.
335bazaar’s platform is seamlessly connected from factory to the consumer using technology.
“We are building a business which links the physical and the digital world. This is unprecedented and hence the challenge. This is a complete blue ocean opportunity,” he adds.
Currently, the startup has a team of 35+ members.
The present and future
According to Invest India, the overall retail market is set to cross the $1.75 trillion mark by 2026 from $795 billion in 2017.
“With our unique India centric business model and founder's expertise, we are pretty confident of hoovering up market share in this highly fragmented retail market,” Taponeel says. “We have no direct competitors as this is a new model of commerce for India.”
In April 2021, 335bazaar had received seed funding from Village Global, the venture fund backed by some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Reid Hoffman.
"We believe that 335bazaar is the future of Indian commerce, and we have partnered with the best investors from Silicon Valley to build on our vision,” Poornima Vardhan, Co-founder, 335bazaar says.
“We make money through sales as we are a technology-driven commerce business,” she adds.
335bazaar competes indirectly with both online and offline retail in India, but “we provide best of both worlds - the convenience of shopping online and the experience of shopping offline,” says Taponeel.