This business builds D2C ecommerce platforms for SMBs, as well as Haldiram’s, Whirlpool, and Luminous
In 2012, two years before the ecommerce boom came to India, Pune-based entrepreneurs Mangesh Panditrao and Vivek Phalak hit upon an idea. As business leaders running IT service organisations, their technology bent of mind helped them foresee the ecommerce wave in India — and more specifically — the direct-to-consumer (D2C) approach to selling online.
The duo looked at how they could use technology to build a platform for offline brands to go online and sell through ecommerce. They came up with a SaaS model for a platform that comprised everything a brand needed to sell online and launched Shoptimize in 2012.
“We launched Shoptimize in Pune with the vision to help brands stay connected with their customers in an increasingly digital world. Our idea was backed by Tandem Capital, which gave us our first seed investment of $250,000,” says Mangesh Panditrao, CEO, Shoptimize, in an interview with SMBStory.
Shoptimize is a SaaS company with a verified ecosystem of technology providers, logistics partners, and branding agencies — all to enable businesses to sell online.
A dual focus
It is well-known that D2C brands such as Mamaearth, Wakefit, and Lifelong have made hundreds of crores in a matter of a few years, and have become household names. This is an impressive feat, considering the presence of large legacy brands, competing in the personal care, home furnishing, and consumer durables sectors.
However, these larger brands are also looking to employ a D2C model and sell online. This is why Shoptimize not only focusses on taking SMBs online but also builds ecommerce stores for established brands.
Taking one such popular brand — Haldiram’s — into the world of ecommerce was one of Shoptimize’s key milestones. The company set up Haldiram’s entire ecommerce platform so it could directly sell its large catalogue of sweets and savouries to consumers online.
“The online store is now a key sales channel for Haldiram’s. The brand is planning on investing significantly in this channel as it is growing at a significant rate. It is planning to shift major offline media spends on online marketing,” says Mangesh.
The Pune-based company is also helping other notable consumer brands like Whirlpool of India and Luminous Power Technologies amplify their online presence.
How it works
Shoptimize provides businesses with an out-of-the-box D2C ecommerce platform. Its features include creating online stores, integrating payment gateways, generating traction on social media, and managing catalogues and content, as well as API integration, operations management, and other features to improve conversion rates.
“It comes with pre-built integrations for a full ecosystem of payment gateways, shipping partners, POS systems, and more,” Mangesh says, claiming the platform can scale as the brand’s products, visitors, and transactions increase.
The Shoptimize platform was built in stages as Mangesh and Vivek embarked on their journey to grow brands online.
The first stage was building a robust platform for online stores. Then, it focussed on including features to analyse user data and automate digital marketing. The co-founders also added options for personalisation to improve website conversions.
“The large amount of data we have generated of over 30 million shoppers and over two million transactions are now being put to use to drive insights and recommendations,” Mangesh adds.
Shoptimize is offered as a SaaS platform with a monthly fee based on the chosen plan. In addition to the SaaS fee, the company earns a percentage of revenue for its growth product — a platform that leverages AI to drive growth for brands.
Its proprietary AI engine — Aarya — and real-time data analytics dashboard — Polaris, have helped brands reduce customer acquisition costs by over 50 percent and improve conversion ratios by over 200 percent, Mangesh claims.
This growth platform fits in alongside the store platform, as well as other D2C platforms, such as Shopify and Magento. With data integrated from online stores and several other sources such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and logistics partners, SMBs and large brands can get a 360-degree view of their business. The platform also provides real-time data analytics to help brands track key metrics.
“We have built-in features for advanced user segmentation, which businesses can use to create cohorts based on user behaviour. Marketing automation then enables them to send targeted messaging to defined user segments, resulting in higher conversion rates,” Mangesh adds.
The platform also uses data to generate actionable insights for revenue growth. It provides recommendations on funnel dropouts, pricing optimisation, promotion tips, product bundling, cart optimisation, and more.
The need to sell online
The shift towards digital has accelerated among SMBs and large brands, keeping up with the current trend of buying online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important to build a D2C presence.
Although Shoptimize helps take brands online, Mangesh says the bigger challenge is showing consistent growth.
“These brands need to see sustainable growth in their D2C channels. Further, the number of variables that affect the fortunes of a brand online is ever-increasing. It is hard to manage the magnanimity of this problem without relying on tools such as Machine Learning," he explains, adding:
"These tools can spot opportunities and threats early enough to make a significant impact on business. This is why we continue to invest significantly in our repeatable growth model and platform,” he explains.
Traditionally, and even more so since the ecommerce boom, SMBs have found it challenging to stand out in a cluttered marketplace, compete against heavy discounting strategies, deal with low margins, and work with little to no customer data.
“Looking to solve these challenges, and combined with their aggressive growth aspirations, SMBs have started to realise the importance of investing in their own D2C ecommerce store. They are keen to build their own brand online, which will lead to deep loyalty and advocacy, higher lifetime values, and overall revenue growth. They believe that this could have a positive impact on their offline presence as well,” he adds.
The digital wave
India's demand for D2C brands — both large and small — could define the future of retail in the country. India’s D2C market is going to be worth $100 billion in five years, according to an Avendus report.
In the last few months, Shoptimize has seen SMBs quickly adopt the D2C model and become active on ecommerce marketplaces.
Larger customer brands, including Whirlpool of India and Luminous Power Technologies, are also convinced by the efficiency of D2C. During the lockdown, they saw increased demand for their consumer durable products and realised their D2C ecommerce stores are key to meeting this demand.
With SMBs and large brands investing in platforms to sell online such as the one built by Shoptimize, the Pune company recovered quickly from an initial slowdown caused by the lockdown.
“There was a slight dip in business from March to May, but the demand for our D2C ecommerce solutions shot up, and we bounced back. We added many new customers, and our revenues doubled between the pre-COVID period and now. Further, our existing customers saw a 200 percent growth in GMV,” Mangesh says.
Looking to continue riding the tailwinds of the digital and ecommerce revolution, Shoptimize is investing heavily in technology and building more capabilities in its core ecommerce platform, as well as its AI-powered growth engine. Recently, it also entered the South East Asian market, and plans to expand its presence there.
Edited by Suman Singh