Window shopping is fun. Especially when you can check the price tags at the mall, open a shopping app, compare prices and buy online. App – 1, Retailer – 0. In an increasingly disruptive world, pure brick-and-mortar retailers are facing a dilemma — how do you bring customers back to shops?
Abhishek Singhal, a techie from Noida and an MBA-grad from IE, Spain realised how fragmented Indian distribution channels were. He was then working as a consultant for a French medical equipment manufacturer that wanted to foray into India. “You put a product up on FirstCry and Amazon, and start selling, but offline is a challenge because you need to work with numerous brands, and distributors, who also add mark-ups at each level,” says Singhal.
Hence, it was in late 2017 that he decided to invest about Rs.6 million and start Inroadz — the app that became operational in February 2018. It brings retailers and brands on the same platform; thus, eliminating the distributor from the picture. The brands lists their products on the app and pays a monthly subscription according to volume. While the monthly subscription may sound high for a budding brand, it allows it to piggyback on Inroadz’ in-house sales team, eliminating the need for it to hire its own team. Meanwhile, a retailer can view the products on the app and place a stock order as per requirement. From retailers, Inroadz makes between 5-12% cut on the value of the order.
“On an average, a retailer earns 7-8% more margin on our platform because we don’t have distributors,” says Singhal. Instead, they work with logistics companies such as Gati to get the product shipped. Singhal claims to have operationally broken even, and to be growing at a steady 20-30% monthly.
He currently has over 700 retailers spread across Mumbai, NCR, Patna, Lucknow, Kolkata and Bengaluru. The app hosts products of over 70 brands, which include Mattel, FunSkool, Sequoia-backed Skillmatics, and baby-care brands such as Mama Earth.