Mall91 is a vernacular social commerce platform built specifically for the next 400M users coming online. Found in the year 2018, the company is helping the tier 3 and tier 4 people by bringing interactive user face and creating a hassle-free shopping experience.
Brands use social media platforms to engage consumers and interact with them and they can now also be used for selling products, this has helped the platform to strengthen the hold on the market. Mall91 is addressing the needs by providing a hassle-free shopping experience to people in non – English language and where shopping will be assisted by social platforms like Whatsapp. In an exclusive conversation Nitin Raj Gupta, Co-Founder, and CEO, Mall91 discuss and share insights same.
What inspires you to launch Mall91? Also, shed light on your entrepreneurial journey? Also tell us about your business model.
My journey, if I were to describe it in two words, is of serial entrepreneurship. I started my career as the General Manager at Trilogy Inc, where I was one of the founding members. I played an integral role in delivering business value worth multi-billion dollars to several Fortune 500 clients of Trilogy.
After this, I went on to establish several high-value internet companies such as On Graph Technologies, WedLock, CoinJoos, and GetZyk.com. Post these milestones, I co-founded Mall91- India’s leading social commerce platform for vernacular users across tier two, three, and four cities.
The platform was created with the knowledge that a large 400 million vernacular market will be coming online in the next two years. Our inspiration was the lack of platforms that will enable/empower these vernacular audiences and allow them to witness the power of online commerce. Thus, Mall91 was developed to reimagine the ‘internet’ for the next cohort of people coming online. Our business model is quite straightforward. We are a marketplace that connects a large number of buyers with sellers – primarily from tier two, three and four cities – and charges a commission per sale.
What is your reading about the current social commerce market in India? According to you what are the factors driving growth in this segment?
According to research conducted by Kantar IMRB, India’s internet users are expected to reach a whopping 627 million by the end of 2019. The study also suggested that this growth will be driven by rapid internet growth across tier two, three and four regions of the country. The growing mobile penetration with affordable data connections is also contributing to the growth of internet users. However, these users are based in smaller cities where English language is not commonly spoken or understood.
These factors, I believe, will drive the growth of social commerce in the country. Leading social commerce players, like Mall91, are already cashing in on this opportunity by innovating sales channels with vernacular video, voice and messaging capabilities. Through the power of communities and engagement, such platforms can build a layer of trust around social commerce and ensure that it becomes the veritable future of the internet.
How many downloads Mall91 app has received so far? How has been the growth of the company in terms of tier 3 and tier 4 markets?
We are close to crossing 5 million downloads. 65% of these are from tier three and four regions. Since 2018, we have witnessed 5X growth across all business metrics and within the next 1 year, we aim to cement our stance as India’s largest social commerce company
catering to more than 15,000 pin codes. We plan to facilitate thousands of e-commerce transactions per day apart from millions of digital transactions.
What are the prevailing challenges for the social commerce industry in India?
There are two significant challenges that prevail in the social commerce industry of India. Firstly, logistics for the interiors of India are not yet developed which makes for sub-optimal consumer experience.
Secondly, building new behaviours among the new cohort coming online requires a lot of thinking. Old playbooks that worked for Tier 1 do not work for our target regions at all.
How you are investing raised funds so far? Are you still scouting to raise more funds?
In December 2018, the platform raised seed funding to the tune of USD 1 million, which was leveraged to expand operations. In March 2019, we raised USD 7.5 million through our Series A round of funding. We are investing raised funds in hiring new talent across all verticals, developing and refining our product roadmap, and increasing our supply chain and logistics capabilities. We are well funded to reach the next phase of growth, and we would be raising more when the time is right.
What is the maximum fund that somebody has earned using your platform?
Our top earners make INR 50,000 per month, primarily through referral sales.
How do you think social commerce has an edge over e-commerce?
Social commerce leverages the power of social communities, thereby reducing customer acquisition costs by multi-factors. As a result, the journey towards building a sustainable business becomes much faster and more cost-effective.
On the other hand, traditional e-commerce companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars in building their brand and acquiring new customers. The largest social commerce platform would be able to build a larger business at a fraction of the capital investment made by traditional e-commerce players.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
We are looking to grow 5X in the next 6 months. As mentioned above, we will cement our stance as India’s largest social commerce platform, catering to more than 15,000 pin codes.