Having seen difficulties in every stage of e-commerce business, one thing became very clearer- for every single online seller, there are at least 9 potential sellers wanting to start selling online. But the practical difficulties stops them.Bhavik Sarkhedi
Ecommerce continues to grow, representing an increasing share of total retail sales. As more and larger online stores open, small sellers may face new business-threatening problems in 2017.
Don’t worry, I interviewed Karthic Gurnani of ‘BaapStore’ and they have the solution for all your e-commerce challenges.
Tell me something about your startup. Everything from bits and pieces to the execution (Detail it)
We are on the exciting mission of changing how e-commerce business works in India. One should not worry about building inventory or technicalities of e-commerce platforms. He should rather focus only on sales and profit.
We take care of all the things that come into running an e-commerce store, like:
1. Product Inventory
2. Ecommerce Portal
3. Delivery & Returns Services
4. Cataloging & Photography
5. Cross-Platform Sales
As we see that E-commerce companies are reaching record sales year on year, one cannot deny that it is one of the timeless profitable business models. After all, it’s just an advanced version of the age-old retail business, right?
But however good an e-commerce business model is, there are some barriers that make it difficult to start one. We are making everything to ensure that our sellers focus only on sales and we take care of all the barriers.
Our objective: In a few years from now, online sellers should forget that e-commerce business requires inventory and technical knowledge at all.
Solving the Problem
1. Product Sourcing:
- If you want to sell 100 products a day, you need at least 1000 products in hand.
- And there is no guarantee that all the products you buy will get sold. Unsold products make losses.
- Whether you get a sale or not, you need to keep refilling the products as that’s the major thing that keeps buyers glued.
- Moreover, you need to buy products from the right wholesaler, at a right wholesale price.
These things require years of trading practices and some huge investment. This is how a retail business works.
Solution: We take care of the inventory, product refilling, stock keeping, etc., Our sellers doesn’t have to buy a single product. We got huge experience in product sourcing. And our prices will be of standard wholesale price, we don’t markup our inventory.
2. E-Commerce Site:
- Currently if one wants to sell from his own site, he has two options- either to get it developed through development companies or via SAAS platforms like Shopify. At any case, either it will cost 50000 to 200000rs one time or a 3000 to 7,000rs monthly fees.
- And then need a good hosting as well. That’s an extra cost again.
- Other costs like domain management, inventory management, etc., will add up to the roof.
In a country like India, how many can afford such a costly deal?
Solution: We provide a fully functional e-commerce portal free of cost to encourage our sellers to sell better. Along with e-commerce site, we provide various host of tools to manage products, generate reports, bulk edits, etc., Sellers doesn’t have to worry about the technicalities or burning their pockets.
3. Delivery & Returns Services:
Fulfilling an order is a pain. One needs to print bills & labels, pack the item in a way that it reaches the buyer safely and follow up with the shipping company. It’s a simple thing, but annoying work.
Solution: We take care of the shipping and delivering of the products. It comes pre-included and we don’t charge extra.
4. Cataloging & Photography:
- A professional photography with a model costs anywhere between 350rs to 1500rs for a single snap.
- Though cataloguing is one of the main selling points of any items, it requires a good product knowledge. Wrong cataloguing may end up in several return packages.
Solution: We provide both cataloguing & photography of products as part of our services. All our photographs would be of white background and ready to be listed in all the marketplaces.
5. Cross-Platform Sales:
Some sellers find it easy to sell via marketplaces, social media websites and chat tools. And buyers would be more comfortable in buying from these tools as they may already have an app for all these tools or be familiar with these sites that have built trust over the years.
Solution: We provide support to all the platforms and tools. There are no restrictions on sales channel. Our sellers can sell our products anywhere- any marketplace, any social media website, any chat tools or anywhere else.
- With all the new readymade services in the market, there is one thing that sellers significantly losing - Branding.
- If a seller sells via SaaS platform, in their footer menu, it will be mentioned as ‘Store Powered by XXX Company’.
- If a seller lists his products on Amazon, there is a strict rule that major branding should be given for Amazon only.
- If a seller uses any widget on his site, you’ll often see that ‘this widget is powered by xxx company’.
In all aspect, sellers are losing their brand value. As they are the ones running the show, they should be the ones getting the higher visibility, isn’t?
Solution: We provide full branding to our sellers. We totally operate in a white label method. Even in the shipping pack, only sellers’ brand name will be mentioned.
How did the idea come up? The inception
While I was working in IBM software company for a good couple of years, one thought that was unavoidable was to start my own business. It was literally plaguing me every morning to quit and start something on my own.
Following my inner voice, I did quit IBM by 2009 and started my own discount coupon venture. As it did not go well, I had to close it down within a year.
Simultaneously, I was providing online marketing services and selling surplus dresses on eBay.
Regarding my eBay experience, I used to buy dresses in lots from Tirupur and sell it on eBay. Although the profits were awesome, it wasn’t easy at all. I had to literally spend days in just sourcing the products, hours in taking pictures and listing those products on eBay. And not all products got sold, I had to clear unsold products at 50% loss.
It was continuing as a side business while online marketing was my major source of income as it got me clients from both domestic and overseas markets.
Last year, I tried listing some branded ladies innerwear on Amazon. I didn’t have those products on hand, but I knew that they were easily available in local shops and if at all I get an order, I can buy and ship those products. As it’s an experiment, I didn’t expect any margin at all.
On the very second day, I received 3 orders from Amazon buyers. It was exciting, but due to the difficulty in product sourcing and Amazon recommended shipping method, I had to cancel all those orders.
Leave alone product sourcing, providing shipping according to Amazon method itself is a highly complicated task. Marketplace sellers would agree here.
Having seen difficulties in every stage of e-commerce business, one thing became very clearer- for every single online seller, there are at least 9 potential sellers wanting to start selling online. But the practical difficulties stops them.
That’s when we decided that we should take on a much larger problem of making online sales easy, like a cakewalk. And that’s how we started baapstore.com.
How is this startup different from others? Core Competency
We are directly solving the pain points of online sellers. We help them in products, technology, delivery and branding.
This is one thing that no business would be interested in doing so. It’s like you do all the hard work and finally, give full credits to the sellers. This will not make sense for many. But as we have set up our business around this concept, we are completely okay with this.
If you compare us, Amazon-like marketplaces make sellers sell in the marketplace and take cuts. Seller has to invest on products, list on Amazon, do all the work, share profits and provide branding to Amazon. This is not avoidable, but not ethical too.
In our case, we provide products to the sellers and make them sell anywhere, on their own brand name. They can sell through the e-commerce portal we provide them or even list on other marketplaces.
The name is unique. Seriously. Any special reason behind it
As our business model is about helping sellers to sell everywhere- via own website/whatsapp/amazon, we just wanted our services to be the baap(dad) of all the sellers, and so has baap store came into existence.
What are your future plans? Angel Funding? VC?
We are growing organically currently. Sellers hear about us, talk to us in detail, research about us and then join us. To speed up the growth, we are working out to get funded from the investors. We are open for any options that would help us to provide better services to our clients.