With major ecommerce sites catering to the urban customers, LINQ stores are the first to penetrate into the rural demand and expand successfully within 6 months of operation. Arunteja Bukkaparapu, Vice President of LINQ store, discusses how they have managed to trigger the market so far, what is the response and how they are looking forward to improve methods of approaching the customers.
When and how was the concept behind this business incepted?
We observed immense scope and penetration of e-commerce in India as number of internet users who shop online are under 15% out of which 80% are from urban and metro cities. With the PM striving hard for Digital India, we came up with this innovative idea of taking the digital services to semi urban and rural customers.
LINQ Store was the brainchild of Sreeram Juluru, Founder of LINQ Store. The inspiration behind this business model was the set of situations he went through. He initially convinced his parents and relatives to shop online, who later were highly satisfied seeing the complete process of getting the right goods at lesser prices with proper delivery. Following this he started getting referrals from others to assist them in ordering products online which proved that credible assistance could solve this major problem.
Sreeram, being a problem solver had keenly observed the gap on why semi urban customer are reluctant to shop online and then designed a brilliant solution and started executing it by teaming up with Anirudh Rayaprolu and Yashwanth Kotha who strongly believed in the idea, which is now the biggest assisted e-commerce retail chain of LINQ Stores.
What ripples have you created in the market so far?
It has been a spike graph in last 5 months. Earlier we used to reach hundreds of leads to get 10 prospects out of which one used to convert. Over a point of time we started lead generation much smartly through the digital mediums like Facebook. From then we used to get a min of 200 leads every day at 4-5% conversion rate.
Earlier we pitched for days for converting the lead whereas now it's just a matter of minutes. 80% of the closed leads are paying us the franchise fee even without meeting us face to face or coming to our office. That’s the strong trust and credibility we have created in the market.
Now we are getting plenty of prospects from various zones, even confined locations but we can’t give more than one store for every 3 Kms radius.
What benefits are in store for the customers if they opt for your services over your competitors?
As far as Amazon domain is concerned, we were the first one to start this model. Later we saw similar businesses cropping up in the market.
Still, LINQ stores are the highest revenue generators for Amazon under its UDAAN initiative.
Our unique services like wide reach in every town in AP & Telangana with our 450+ stores, continuous support from purchase to proper delivery, travel tickets and medicines and providing EMI on eligibility while shopping sets us apart from any other upcoming competitors.
Where do you see yourself in this competitive market?
As already shared, we are first in market to come up with this kind of assisted e-commerce model. We will stand first on any day with our great geo presence and are also rapidly expanding to other states and in 6 months were strong enough to reach 10 states with at least 150 stores in each.
What is the pricing strategy for the services you offer?
Pricing is very minimal and also the complete investment is as less as 1.5 lakhs which a potential franchisee can get the break even in just 4 months. This is the utmost beauty of our business model.
What were the initial challenges faced and lessons learnt?
Initially we faced a lot of challenges given this new business model that we came up with. People didn’t believe in the revenue model or our business model and it took a lot of time to convince them to set up a store. Then demonetization happened which was a drastic blow and people called back their stores. Somehow because of the earlier vigorous marketing campaigns we kept getting leads and our sales team had put a lot of effort in converting.
With that we realised how to keep hold of our patience until we got the right solution to the existing problem, keep up the motivation and energy in risk taking and just focus on the end result. We got to know the actual strength and fruitful results of team work and analysed the potential of every individual and shared the work accordingly.
Is franchising a viable model for expansion? What are your plans to expand through this format?
Absolutely! Franchising is solely the brilliant model to expand rapidly as it creates a vested interest in the business to individuals and penetrates quickly in the market.
We want to expand our business through this franchising model to each and every semi urban and rural areas throughout the nation.
What is your advice to those entering this market?
My advice to those who are willing to enter into this market is - address the real problem and create a better channel that will reach out to the rural consumers effectively.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
We are sure that in the next 3 years, we will definitely create a strong presence in atleast 10 states with 3000+ stores and will create a strong network that can benefit the rural areas in India and will show the growth of Digital Economy in rural India. We will help Modi Ji in making the Digital India dream come true in 3 years.