[Startup Bharat] How Mohali-based Figgital is building ‘electronics stores-on-wheel’ to disrupt offline retail
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed a lot of businesses to think out of the box. While the majority of them increasingly “went digital”, a few found an opportunity in the offline space to reach out to consumers right outside their doorstep.
One such strategy was ‘store on wheels’, which was adopted in the consumer electronics space by serial entrepreneur KS Bhatia through his venture Figgital. Though the concept of ‘store on wheels' is not brand new, it is definitely one of the firsts in the multiple consumer electronics space.
Founded in December 2020, Mohali-basedis a chain of modern retail consumer electronics stores across regions in India. The franchise-based chain was started by Bhatia to take the retail experience right outside the consumer’s door, especially in Tier III, IV, and rural areas, where the likes of multi consumer electronic stores like Croma and Reliance Digital remain absent, while an ecommerce delivery takes about a week.
Within a short span of eight months, the company has opened 40 stores in Karnataka and Punjab and six 'store on wheels’ in Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.
The startup has clocked a revenue of over Rs 2 crore since inception and earns about Rs 80,000 - Rs 1 lakh per day from store-on-wheels.
Figgital has grown out of the founder’s first venture — Pumpkart, a B2B2C online and offline marketplace for water pumps and agriculture equipment. Started in 2014, Pumpkart had expanded its offering to consumer durables. However, owing to the segment-specific name of the company (Pumpkart), Bhatia was unable to monetise consumer electronics under the same brand name.
After making some initial sales of electronics through Pumpkart’s online channel, the consumer electronic business was separated in 2020, leading to the inception of Figgital.
In September 2020, both Pumpkart and Figgital received a grant of $1.5 million from the Karnataka government under the Samruddhi Scheme to open over 100 retail outlets across the state.
“Figgital means physical+digital. We have established our presence offline with our franchise stores, store-on-wheels, and online with our Figgital website. Next in the pipeline is our online hyperlocal B2B2C platform, which will democratise the market of consumer electronics,” the founder says.
The first Figgital store was inaugurated in December 2020 in Bengaluru, followed by the launch of its store-on-wheels in June 2021 in Bihar.
Figgital includes a collection of over 2,000 products from multiple categories such as smartphones and tablets, smart televisions, home appliances, smart devices, accessories, and more.
The startup directly procures these products from electronic brands and has warehouses across states. The stores and the store-on-wheels are run on the franchise model.
“We identify partners in smaller cities and towns with the trust and credibility that the company has built over the years,” says the founder. The store-on-wheel covers basic electronic items and gadgets like laptops, mobile phones, accessories, speakers, tabs, and smart watches.
Targeting mass market
Figgital aims to disrupt the mass market by providing multi-brand electronic products in Tier III,IV, and rural areas.
“People in rural areas have to travel to cities to buy a simple mobile phone. Though there are small retailers in those areas, including Tier III and IV cities, people like to have a complete touch, feel, and try out experience,” says Bhatia.
The entrepreneur found an opportunity in the said markets where the likes of Croma, Sargam, Vijay Sales, Girias, and Reliance Digital do not generally enter.
“The bigger multi brand consumer electronic stores have mandates of population, area, distance, sales, and so on, creating an opportunity for Figgital. There are almost no modern retail chains in smaller areas,” he says.
The second gap Figgital wanted to bridge was in online shopping, which despite popularity, remains the “second best option” for people.
“Even to date, you will not find many people making heavy electronic purchases online. People still prefer brick-and-mortar over online before buying an electronic item,” says Bhatia, who gives the example of online companies like Flipkart and Lenskart, which have taken the reverse (online to offline) route to create touch and feel stores.
The ideation of store-on-wheels took place during the pandemic as lockdowns had become the new normal and people were confined to their homes. “It takes about three to four days minimum for delivery of a simple electronic item through an ecommerce website. We wanted to bridge this gap with delivery within two hours,” says the founder.
Figgital store in Bengaluru
Building a hyper local platform
The startup aims to become the largest smart retail chain of consumer electronics and is in the process to open over 150 stores pan India by March 2022. With that, it will enter urban and semi urban areas as well.
The company is working on building a B2C hyperlocal platform that would work as a consumer electronic aggregator and bring local retailers together at one place.
The delivery app, first in non-essential hyperlocal space, will be live by September, says Bhatia.
“Figgital will work on a hybrid model, which will be our biggest strength among competitors like Sargam, Vijay Sales, Reliance Digital and Croma. There is huge scope for new players in this segment. Our multi-channel approach would work in our favour,” the founder says.
According to India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA), demand for electronics hardware in India is expected to reach $400 billion by FY24. As of FY20, the electronics and domestic appliances market in India were estimated to be around Rs 5,976 crore and Rs 17,873 crore, respectively. There is a lot of scope for growth from the rural market with consumption expected to grow in these areas as penetration of brands increases, the founder signs off.
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