With over 6.5 lakh sellers, this social commerce startup is helping local retailers from smaller towns go online
Amidst COVID-19, retailers in small towns across India faced a hard truth — they had to go digital for smoother business operations. The need for an online presence convinced many to jump on the digitisation bandwagon, set up shops, and target customers online.
Now, Amazon and Flipkart aren’t the only preferred ecommerce marketplaces for these retailers, who compete against large brands. Helping these traditional businesses go online is Mumbai-based CoutLoot.
Through its social commerce platform, the offline-to-online (O2O) startup allows non-branded offline retailers to sell online to buyers, who can bargain and buy products.
Founded in 2016 by Jasmeet Thind and Mahima Kaul,helps traditional shopkeepers and street vendors sell online by automatically cataloguing their offline inventory, providing logistics, payment, and reconciliation support.
“We largely focus on products that sell in the streets. Fashion, of course, is the largest category that sells on the platform, followed by shoes, electronics, electronic accessories, and home decor,” Jasmeet Thind, Co-founder of CoutLoot, tells YourStory.
Growth in the last year
Last year, CoutLoot’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) grew over 6X to $70 million from $16 million in the previous year. In 2019, the startup claimed to have an annualised GMV of over Rs 45 crore.
Moreover, a seller’s average monthly sales grew more than 6X to Rs 16,500 in December 2021 from Rs 2,500 in January 2020.
“The game is not just getting them [sellers] a single sale, but helping them grow on the platform, so their contribution to overall monthly sales is substantial, and they remain on the platform,” Jasmeet explains.
He adds the CoutLoot app — which has more than 10 million downloads — takes into account the sellers, their ratings, active sessions on the app, their response to customers, and the products they sell, ensuring they get equal discovery and sales on it.
Jasmeet notes the Mumbai-based startup is solving for demand — one of the biggest pain points for these sellers. The startup allows sellers to pay and promote their stores on the platform, giving them more visibility.
It has incorporated retargeting tools to make it easier to reach customers with who they have done business earlier and get automatically subscribed to the same store.
CoutLoot claims its contribution on average monthly to these sellers is about 40 percent.
The startup claims it can deliver products within seven to eight days, depending on the delivery partner that works in the particular region. CoutLoot has partnered with 15 delivery partners, including Gati, Delhivery, India Post, and DHL, to deliver across India.
Since 2019, CoutLoot has almost doubled the number of sellers on its platform, mostly belonging to Tier II, III, and IV towns.
At present, it has over 6.5 lakh sellers, of which close to 3.2 lakh sellers (50 percent) are active every quarter. The startup sees a monthly average of 1.7 lakh sellers on its platform.
For CoutLoot, this worked out well since these shopkeepers usually find it hard to sell on Amazon and Flipkart. “They don't know how to use Excel sheets; they don't have computers or taxation certificates,” adds Jameet.
Historically, traditional businesses, with small teams, compete with large companies on ecommerce websites to acquire customers, market their products, etc. In fact, large ecommerce platforms are dominated by only a handful of traditional sellers, unlike CoutLoot. Since these retailers can bargain with their customers, CoutLoot creates relatively fairer competition among the brands.
According to Jasmeet, the startup is more like an online “bazaar,” where 90 percent of sellers operate physical shops.
Most of CoutLoot’s sellers reside in the north and central India, enabling users to communicate and transact in their regional language, especially in Hindi.
Each month, the company claims to be doing more than an average of four lakh orders. The average order value of a customer is Rs 450.
“About 40 to 50 percent of sellers would do 70 percent of the sales on our platform,” he says.
CoutLoot has more than 10 million users, growing over 2.5X, as compared to 3.5 million users since last year. It sees over two million users use the app every month.
The way forward
Last month, CoutLoot launched a video commerce feature to help sellers promote their brands through videos, describing their products and store.
This, Jasmeet adds, is a big opportunity for the startup, considering India's live commerce market to clock a GMV of $4-5 billion by 2025, according to RedSeer.
In September 2021, CoutLoot had raised $8 million in a pre-Series A round led by VC firm Ameba Capital, with participation from SOSV, 9Unicorns, and Astarc Ventures.
At the time, Kevin Wang, Managing Partner at Ameba Capital, said, "CoutLoot has best addressed the needs from the rising consumption of 500 million-plus Tier II, III Indian population by converging online and offline retail. The incoming fast 4G mobile rollout in the country will land successes like what's happened in China, like Taobao, Tmall, and Pinduoduo, or even Tiktok creating conversational social commerce, supported in India's local languages."
The startup expects to close another funding round worth $25 million soon.
It recently launched a feature to help sellers to factories on the platform, making it easy for them to source products for their business. CoutLoot plans to monetise this business-to-business model by sourcing products directly from factories to sellers at cheaper prices, benefiting from some margin difference.