In this post we present you with the excerpts of a detailed discussion with the Founder Director & CEO of UrDoorstep, Dinesh Malpani. UrDoorstep is a one-of-a-kind online platform which caters to people’s essential needs. When we say essentials, we mean groceries, crockeries, socks, pyjamas, night gowns etc. UrDoorstep strongly believes that people are reluctant to spend lot of time in replenishing the aforementioned items, we see this mainly as a chore.
This is where UrDoorstep want’s to become the number one choice for buying essentials on-the-go. The company is a first in running on an inventory model (among online sellers) with a vast network of vendors and farmers. The company is about to invest in a new logistics technology to enhance last mile delivery, and in turn customer satisfaction.
As of this discussion, UrDoorstep is catering to 75 pincodes in Bengaluru, and is about to expand delivery in the city. Dinesh’s vision doesn’t stop here, he says that UrDoorstep has plans to go pan-India soon. Here are the excerpts of our discussion with Dinesh.
|Product||Online Store to sell essentials (groceries & more)|
|Founder & CEO||Dinesh Malpani|
|Number of employees||100-500|
|Traction||Monthly 50,000 unique customers|
Q. Tell us about your business and how it all started? What inspired you to go online?
Dinesh: It was in 2009 that I envisioned UrDoorstep. The ecommerce market in India, back then was pretty much non existent. I was plying my trade at retail ecommerce at Mahindra. There was and is a need for an elegant, robust platform to stock household essentials without having to invest a lot of time and energy. This is the premise of UrDoorstep. We launched a pilot in 2013.
There are two categories of shopping, one, where we take pleasure in shopping for things we love and care for (aspirational products such as clothes for occasions). And two, the absolute essentials such as groceries, cups & saucers, boxer shorts and night gowns etc. where people find stocking these as a chore. While the former demands effort from us to visit malls and shops and enjoy the occasion of shopping, the latter, however, needn’t. This is where UrDoorstep fits in.
Q. How big essentials (replenishment) eCommerce Market in India is?
Dinesh: The essential products market in India is worth $475 billion, out of which groceries make up for $400 billion. So, the demand is incredible and challenging.
Q: What challenges do you see in the online essentials market?
Dinesh: It all begins with investors seeking valuation in businesses than long term profits. PE’s should ideally look at rock solid business models like UrDoorstep for guaranteed success on their investments. On other hand, some online businesses in this segment focusing on valuation game, but we are focussed on profitability from day one.
Fast fulfillment is also a challenge which is being addressed via our new technology to serve the customers better. We are focusing on improving Customer Lifecycle Value (CLV). CLV is one of the important KPIs for sustainable & scalable business.
We use customer data to analyse and create the ideal and worthy buying experience to each and every consumer. Today we have 50,000 unique customers who visit UDS. Our email catalog campaigns are based on our robust customer data analysis. Based on purchase and browsing history, we deliver relevant pre and post shopping experience. We strive towards our motto “Customer devo bhava”.
We put a lot of energy on this as it has a bearing on buyer’s loyalty and business profitability. I have been closely running retail businesses for 25 years (mahindra, Jubilant Retail – Total Malls in Bangalore etc.) hence running a profitable business of this scale is a great opportunity as an individual.
Q: What are your strategies to deal with the competition in your niche?
Dinesh: UrDoorstep is built on an inventory model. The existing players in the market work on sourcing model, wherein they tie up with local kirana stores and source materials. At UrDoorstep, we have built a network of 9000 farmers, who visit our consolidation centers to sell their produce. Our trucks fetch the produce from these consolidation centers and bring it to our state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bangalore. As a result, we really do not see any competition in this sustainable inventory model, where quality of products and low cost are met every single day.
During Chennai floods in 2015, our network of farmers volunteered and joined hands with us to sell essentials such as dal for just Rs. 20 per kilo, while other players in the market used the abject demand to sell at 5X the actual market price. This is just to show the strength of our relationship with farmers we possess.
Q: How do you manage sourcing and delivery in your market?
Dinesh: Our exceptional strong relationship with vendors gives us an extra edge, which I have earned hard throughout my career. I am a strong believer in creating great relationships with our vendors / partners.
Sourcing produce from farmers forms the bedrock of our business model. We have established consolidation centers across the city, we transport the produce to our fulfillment center in Bangalore. From here on in, we serve to 75 pincodes in Bangalore through our own dedicated delivery personnel. We are soon to expand in the city.
Q: What piece of advice you want to share with the entrepreneurs who want to tap this niche?
Dinesh: Knowledge and information, are vital to understand ecommerce and succeed. First, I would wish present day entrepreneurs to understand the concepts, legalities, challenges, pitfalls, technicalities, stakeholders, and online business models before they decide to sell online. It is obvious that some of the business management aspects do remain the same while selling online, however, ecommerce business comes with its own set of hurdles. I suggest entrepreneurs to acquire knowledge and understand if their products can reach more customers and become sustainable without bleeding a lot of resources.