In the past, Saahil Goel was trying to develop his own version of Shopify in India as an online platform for small-scale businesses to to sell products online. The name was KartRocket (and afterward Kraftly) however the concept didn’t work.
Ecommerce was at its early stages within the country and Saahil would accept that there wasn’t much demand for this service. Saahil and the Chief Executive Officer Akshay Ghulati later made the decision to utilize the platform to solve an even more fundamental issue of a absence of reliable shipping options for small-scale merchants.
KartRocket was later Shiprocket an aggregator of logistics for e-commerce.
With Zomato’s backing Shiprocket close to becoming being a unicorn today–it was valued at close to 930 million when it last had a raise in December Saahil the company’s chief executive as well as Akshay as co-founder, are looking to slow down the clock just a bit.
The timing wasn’t ideal for this (Shopify-like) platform at the time, Saahil tells YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma in an exclusive interview. We were way ahead of the curve, he says, we had the challenge of convincing users to join online.
Shiprocket has made five acquisitions that have been tuck-in since it was established 2017 has since been able to complete a circle by establishing an array of services ranging from delivery to online order-taking for anyone who wishes to sell on the internet.
Also, it is it is a single platform for both direct-to-consumer and retail brands who want to sell on their own. Many D2C companies in India, even with their own websites depend on e-commerce platforms to increase visibility and also for solutions like order fulfilment or delivery. However, this can impact their profits.
The next phase of D2C-based commerce in India will be in Tier 2 as well as 3 cities. At present, nobody is looking at ways to train and educate the sellers in these cities, and this market is not being served, says Akshay, who was recruited by Saahil as a consultant at Kraftly in 2016 after Amazon’s UK business subsidiary.
What Amazon and Flipkart did for metro cities and Tier-1 cities in the beginning this decade Meesho is doing the same for Tier 3 cities today and people are getting comfortable with online shopping.
Saahil says that, despite the changes in direction, the company’s goal is to level the playing level for merchants.
The vertical marketplaces did an excellent job at combining everything from order, last mile delivery return as well as loyalty, remarketing and customer service in just one button. What is the best way to do this for both direct commerce and independent companies? This was our five-year goal.
Building Indian E-commerce to support Bharat
To address thatquestion, Shiprocket has made several acquisitions such as cargo shipping business Rocketbox and supply chain management system Glaucus and marketing automation platform Wigzo and logistics and aggregator Pickrr and, most recently, Omuni, Arvind Internet’s business of retail enablement.
Plug-ins like these are crucial for the business to draw companies that are new or emerging to the platform, which already collaborates with merchants of different size.
Shiprocket will also leverage its capabilities as an online distribution platform for businesses through the development of an infrastructure of technology for online sellers.
We can also be a powerful distribution engine. Around 1 lakh merchants have a relationship with us, and they pay us each quarter. If a person is not a scaler however has a fantastic product, we can assist with distribution, says Saahil about the company’s acquisition strategy. It is an all-win situation.
Shiprocket has been the engine behind 85 million transactions unique through the years, with an growing numbers of buyers and sellers not just from the major cities but also from towns and smaller cities.
“Our demand-side trend has changed, he says. “What was once 70-30 within Tier 1 (versus Tier 2) has now changed to 35 Tier 1 and 65 Tier 2… A lot of buyers are in Tier 2 and three cities.
This means that Shiprocket is also bringing on more sellers from cities that are smaller. A large portion of this was changed during COVID and that’s the time when many (sellers) required to make changes and experiment with their way of doing business.
The journey from India to the rest of the world
Apart from its platform-as-a-service play, Shiprocket is also working to take domestic D2C brands and online sellers global. The company announced the start of its business that is cross-border, Shiprocket X, in June, with the goal of making shipping simple for international orders just like it does for domestic orders.
About two years ago, a large number of sellers who had success selling online internationally had their products listed via Amazon via FBA (Fulfilled through Amazon) as well as eBay or Etsy. This is not a realistic option for many entrepreneurs selling their products in the US, says Akshay.
He says that more and more, Indian brands and sellers know who they would like to sell to internationally However, they as well, they want to be the master of the customer experience to ensure greater repeat sales and higher ROI on overseas investments.
It is very complicated. We began (Shiprocket X) last year and it was started in June this year. It took us 6 months to go through the customs process and to export, Says Akshay, saying that when international markets became an inevitable extension for the new brands that were emerging in India shipping across borders were an obvious extension of the business of Shiprocket.
With these moving components, Shiprocket wants to be the NPS-as a-service platform that merchants can use, Saahil says half-jokingly.
NPS is a gauge of customer satisfaction in e-commerce businesses. It is a gauge of how likely consumers are to recommend the product or service to other customers. The success of any business depends on defining the most satisfying customer experience for online sellers across all categories.
We believe that online shopping needs to be made more accessible, says Saahil. The most effective way to develop technology is to make the lives of everyone better, not only for a select few.