Unitus Seed Fund has announced an undisclosed sum of investment in Jiffstore, a Bangalore-based startup that is connecting local grocery (popularly known as ‘kirana stores’ in India) shops to customers though a mobile app that offers online ordering and home delivery.
The company plans to use the new capital to further develop its technology platform and expand customer base of small shops. This is Unitus Seed Fund’s third m-commerce investment so far in 2014 following investments in mGaadi (m-commerce solution for ordering auto rickshaws) and Medypal (online marketplace for healthcare services).
“Building a business to serve several lakh of kirana shops is no small task due to the requirement of maintaining an extremely low cost structure while scaling on-the-ground operations quickly,” said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner, Unitus Seed Fund. “The diverse experiences of the Jiffstore founding team and their proven ability to get customer traction quickly were key factors in our decision to make this investment,” he added.
Based on growing consumer demand, fueled by ever-decreasing smartphone costs, India’s organised retail sector has been rapidly adopting e-commerce and m-commerce, while small shops have been left behind due to lack of know-how, limited resources, and operational complexity.
“Retail in India is expected to reach INR 45 lakh crore (US$770 billion) by 2015. Ninety two per cent of the retail market is unorganised – mostly in small shops. We see a fantastic opportunity for a cost-effective m-commerce solution to automate these shops, help them compete, and delight their customers,” said Shameel Abdulla, CEO of Jiffstore.
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Jiffstore was founded by Aswin Ramachandran, Sandeep Seenath, Satish Basavaraj, and Shameel Abdulla in June 2013, bringing experience in technology, logistics, implementation, and consulting.
Using an iOS or Android app, consumers can browse store items, make orders, and optionally have them delivered. The shop owner uses an Android app to interact with customers, manage inventory and other functions.
Jiffstore is experimenting with multiple business models including pay-as-you-go fees linked to the amount of revenue driven by the customer’s platform. It is active in dozens of stores in Bangalore since starting pilot operations in October of 2013. It is seeing 30 per cent month-on-month order growth rate and is looking to bring on board many new stores in the coming months.