The fourth phase of the lockdown in India, which was implemented May 18 onwards, brought with it several relaxations, especially in the mobility and ecommerce sectors. Most large ecommerce and logistics companies have resumed their services – including deliveries of non-essential items – with red zones being the only exception.
Ridesharing giants Ola and Uber have started accepting rides in most cities with certain safety checks in place, while food delivery giants Swiggy and Zomato – which helped deliver essentials – recently started alcohol delivery services, aiming to keep people off the streets.
Even though mobility restrictions have been eased to an extent, the government has been recommending people to stay home to curb further spread of the coronavirus, or at least minimise the time they spend outdoors.
Hyderabad-based Mynyfy is a startup that, by optimising the process of shopping, is helping citizens limit their exposure to the virus.
Its enterprise app is a platform where users can upload their shopping lists, along with their location to source quotes from various sellers. The backend then evaluates the list, compares prices, checks availability, and throws up suggestions of shops where the items can be purchased from, offline.
Founded in 2019 by Kiran Vaka, Vikram Yedavelli, Krishna C Pavuluri, and Naveen Vedala, Mynyfy aims to make the process of buying items quick and easier, which is especially useful right now because of the coronavirus pandemic as it helps buyers procure all items on their list from stores that have at least most – if not all – items in stock.
The app eliminates the need for people to wander around, breaking social-distancing norms, to buy things from multiple stores because they could not find it all in one place.
“People can click a picture of the item or product they need and create an order using the application. They also need to select their neighbourhood where they can go and purchase the product,” explains Mynyfy Co-Founder, Vikram Yedavelli.
The order then becomes visible to local sellers listed on the platform, who can send back price details and availability of items. Once finalised, the user can pick his or her order up from the store.
Apart from the online to offline model, the Mynyfy app offers the option of ‘group buying’, where buyers can either join an existing group, or create a group with users in and around their neighbourhoods, who may also have a similar purchasing needs.
Through these groups, users can place bulk orders and identify the best seller around them.
This is advantageous for both buyers and sellers as it brings bulk demand for the merchant, while buyers get their products at a discounted price. Vikram explains that since the model requires the buyers to visit the shop to make the purchase, the group creator or the admin is in no way responsible for paying the amount for the goods since everyone has to individually visit the store.
Benefit for local sellers
A big advantage for sellers enlisting themselves on the app is that they gain online visibility immediately, at no extra cost to them.
According to Vikram, most kiranas, as well as brick-and-mortar stores, do not list themselves on Flipkart, Amazon, or any other ecommerce portal, even when there is more value in it for them, because the process of onboarding is tedious. Sellers need to catalogue every item in their store, publish their product line, and use complex inventory management applications, all of which makes the entire ordeal a little intimidating for them.
“The local stores are generally managed by the owners alone with maybe one or two helps. So online orders, which require them to arrange for packaging of the goods, logistics, refund, cancellation, etc., becomes difficult for them. The process can also take away their time to tend to the regular offline customers, and thus they do not want to hamper their traditional line of business,” he says.
With Mynyfy though, shop owners do not need to publish or catalogue their entire range of products – they just need to respond to the order created by users nearby, stating the availability of the items and their pricing.
To date, 450 sellers across the country have registered on the app. A whopping 99 percent of the listed sellers are from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since the rollout was affected by the pandemic.
“The product was launched in February, but we could not market it across the country due to the lockdown and so most of the sellers on the app right now are from AP and Telangana,” said Vikram.
The startup does not charge sellers commissions or take a part of the revenue they generate on the application. Instead, the revenue model is based on ‘points’:
“Sellers will need to purchase points (from the company) to send quotes for the orders. For example, a recharge of Rs 100 will give them 100 points. With every quote they sent, points are deducted, depending upon the category of products. Once they exhaust their points, they will need to recharge again in order to send quotes,” explains Vikram.
Essentially, sellers need to pay Re 1 to buy one point which will allow them to respond to one order a buyer raises. However, the number of points deducted depend on the items in the order – so groceries, for instance, could be worth one point, while real estate and electronics will be worth multiple points.
Retailers can also use their points to publish offers and discount flyers on the platform, to attract customers.
Apart from this, the startup has a franchise model where Mynyfy onboards franchisees – who are asked to bring in at least 1,000 sellers – for a term of three years.
“The franchise partners are expected to make an investment of Rs 2 Lakh and are responsible for bringing in 1,000 sellers on board. Mynyfy will pay these partners 10 percent of the revenue they generate from the sellers they onboard,” explains Vikram.
Future plans and competition
Vikram says that India currently has around five crore offline sellers, and Mynyfy is hoping to target at least 10 percent of that market over the next five years.
The bootstrapped startup is also looking for investors to raise its seed funding in order to step up its marketing campaign across India, and meet its 10 percent target.
Mynyfy’s biggest competitors are ecommerce companies since they can deliver products right to a customer’s doorstep. However, Mynyfy has an edge over them when it comes to products that are needed immediately, and when consumers cannot wait for them to get delivered.
Mynyfy also offers group buying which can attract better discount rates.
(Edited by Aparajita Saxena)
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