[Startup Bharat] How Indore-based VOSO is turning small retailers into e-service providers
The startup converts a retail store into an all-inclusive center for a variety of e-services like travel bookings, insurance, bill payments, etc., to increase business.
Thursday September 16, 2021,
4 min Read
Despite an increase in digitisation across the country, there remains a huge section of people who are struggling with digital tools. People still find it difficult to book a ticket, buy insurance, or make online bill payments by themselves, and are relying on local agents, cyber cafes, e-service centres, and even Kiranas.
On the other hand, small retailers are finding it difficult to sustain with a single format store. In a bid to solve this two-sided problem, Indore-based Jitendra Soni and Sumit Chordiya conceptualised(visit-offline-shop-online) stores in 2019.
The startup aims to get small retailers revamp their business to become all-inclusive centers for a variety of online services, and aims to help “non-tech savvy” people to be able to avail multiple services at a single physically accessible store.
“The aim of these hybrid stores is to offer online services to people at a physical location while helping small retailers not go out of business due to increasing digitisation,” says Jitendra, who worked with various retail companies like Snapdeal and Asian Paints for over 10 years before starting the venture with his friend-turned-co-founder.
Started in June 2019, VOSO has ‘reconditioned’ over 2,000 stores across states, including Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, and is witnessing a month-on-month growth of 25 percent.
The bootstrapped startup, registered under parent company Tracknovate Technologies Private Limited, is headquartered in Indore with a staff of 150 people.
A hybrid model
A store owner is signed up on VOSO Portal, which aggregates e-services like travel bookings (bus, flights, hotels), insurance (online and offline), utility bill payments, recharges (Fastag, mobile, DTH), loan repayments, municipal taxes, money transfers, pan card, Aadhaar services, and others.
The startup has integrated its platform with Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) to provide bill payment services. The retailer becomes a BBPS agent who then becomes a sole touch-point for customers to walk in their outlet/service point and make a bill payment. The payments can be accepted through various modes.
Once the onboarding takes place, the store owners are provided with basic training of all the e-services along with necessary tech support and digital marketing services. The entire store is rebranded as well.
The startup also helps retailers become insurance agents with proper certifications.
A local ‘key account manager’ who looks after the entire management, upgradation, new service addition, tech support and training, is assigned for each store.
“The overall footfall in these small single product/service stores has significantly reduced. The operational costs of running a physical shop is high and there is a dire need for them to revamp, get digital, and offer more services,” he says.
Partnership and revenue
Voso has also partnered with Amazon to offer Amazon Easy Store franchise, which enables small businesses or grocery store owners to offer online ecommerce assistance to new customers, especially in Tier III and IV cities where people don’t trust online shopping.
“We have a good commission structure for retailers who can earn up to Rs 40,000-50,000 per month via transactions. The they engage in VOSO services, the more their earnings will be,” says the founder.
The startup charges a standard one-time fee from retailers to convert their store into a digital store.
Besides this, it charges a 0.5 percent commission on the earnings made by the retailers on the services offered. However, this extra commission comes after the business has surpassed a particular transaction number.
Moving forward, the founders aim to expand to newer cities and raise external funding by next year. The startup clocked 398 percent growth in FY 21.
“We will soon be launching a B2C mobile application through which people can check the location of their nearest VOSO store to avail services at best possible prices,” he says.
There are about 13 million kirana and neighbourhood stores across the country. Large conglomerates like Amazon and Reliance have been partnering and digitising local retailer store owners to reach a wider audience. A startup like VOSO has the potential to scale up in a partnership model (Amazon) where it can offer its service as an add on to create a multi-service center.
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Edited by Megha Reddy