Building ecommerce for real Bharat customers: Meesho's Vidit Aatrey
One crucial cultural hook has helped social commerce platformgrow its business, particularly in its early phases: spending considerable time understanding its customers.
At YourStory's 13th edition on TechSparks 2022, Vidit Atrey, Co-founder and CEO of Meesho, said the company was built to solve the problem of retailers and customers from small towns.
“Sanjeev, our co-founder, and I come from a middle-class background, and we have grown seeing our mothers go to a nearby boutique to get their suits and sarees,” Vidit said in a conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory. "For us, that was real commerce, which we don’t get in large cities. And that’s what we wanted to build."
Vidit and Sanjeev spent a lot more time building connections with customers, as did Meesho employees across ranks and teams.
“Most companies were replicating businesses from the West, (but) there was nothing for ‘real Bharat customers’ who have a very different demand and value,” Vidit said.
On customers from Tier 2 and 3 towns, to whom Meesho mostly caters, Vidit said most of them are women who prefer paying by cash on delivery of an order.
But a big challenge in this is when the company has to refund payments for returned products, since not many women from small towns accept online payments.
“Women from Tier 2 and 3 towns, who are our major customers, just hate receiving the money in bank accounts, since they are given a monthly budget in cash by their husband or family, which they use for shopping," Vidit said. "Now, if they return a product, we have to pay via the internet, and (they lose) their chance to get the money back. I don’t think this is the kind of challenge that any other ecommerce business is facing."
Another challenge Meesho faces in building for customers from remote towns is a cultural one.
Vidit said that when he asked women why they don’t shop for all their household or personal needs online, they often replied that shopping for such items was the only quality time they got to spend with their family and they didn't want to miss on that.
“So, this is another ‘real challenge’ of ‘real Bharat’ customers," he added.
Vidit also highlighted that Meesho had enabled small businesses from small towns that were skeptical about selling online because of high logistics costs and concerns over low profitability. “We tried to cater to this perception and enabled them to sell online without charging commissions.”
Ending the session, Vidit shared that for small and medium businesses to build a new business online, there should not be a lens around the profitable category.
“Go there, pick a problem you are passionate about, and build for Bharat.”
Edited by Megha Reddy