The COVID-19 pandemic led to a paradigm digital shift, with almost everything going online. Ecommerce was the future, we all knew, but the pandemic brought it to our doorstep in double-quick time.
Major players were able to mitigate much of the risk, but small and medium enterprises took a hit as they faced financial and operational challenges and struggled to create an online presence. This was when Suumit Shah, who was running a startup, happened to see a PDF catalogue from Jockey on his phone, with an “Order on WhatsApp” message.
Suumit says he had “three immediate questions”:
- Why wasn’t Jockey using Shopify or similar platforms to launch an ecommerce website?
- How would they keep a track of orders if they get hundreds of orders?
- Why should only Jockey be doing this?
The questions and consequent brainstorming led to the birth of Dukaan, a digital platform that enables merchants to set up ecommerce stores using their smartphones without any technical know-how or investment.
An app in 48 hours
Suumit realised if established brands like Jockey were reeling under the pressure and lacking digital touchpoints to sustain their business, SMBs would be floundering.
“It took us a little over 48 hours to launch the platform and since then, millions of merchants have started using Dukaan to sell online,” says Suumit, who founded the Bangalore-based SaaS startup in May 2020 along with Subhash Choudhary, Anurag Meena, and Kaustub Pandey.
The platform allows anyone to set up an ecommerce website on its platform within 30 seconds of using its app.
With over 3.5 million sellers under 40 categories on the platform, it has processed more than two lakh orders since last month and 12 lakh since inception.
Dukaan is the only ecommerce enablement app that managed to grow at a rapid pace and hit six million downloads on the app store within a year. In June, it clocked a growth of 110 percent in GMV, leading to a $115 million annualised GMV in May 2021. The startup began monetising in early May and clocked its first revenue of over $44,000.
“We provide digital cataloguing, sales and inventory management, marketing tools, online payment gateway features, and pan-India delivery options. Our sellers are spread across over 40 domains, including restaurants, general stores, bakeries, meat shops, blue-collar services, electronics, fashion, etc,” Suumit says.
Building from the feedback
The platform recently included features like delivery with partners like Dunzo and Shiprocket; this has helped streamline business operations for customers by allowing them to redirect their time and money in upgrading their existing business.
“A seller can use the Dukaan app on their mobile or desktop to create an online store, upload inventory and promote products seamlessly using the built-in features of the app. Orders and sale records are available, and delivery can be arranged using one of the many options available.
“The customer journey – from awareness through to an optimum purchase experience – is completed on Dukaan in just a few steps, thanks to the efficient, integrated features,” Suumit says.
He adds that they took feedback from sellers to grow and evolve the product. Today, the platform’s key differentiators are:
- Low customer acquisition costs
- Ease of use of the product (no-code)
- Understanding and fulfilling the need of Indian SMBs
- Speed of technology development
“Dukaan has evolved in the last year and continues to do so. We have been adding innovative features to provide our users with ease of use. Popular features include Magic Upload, an inventory management option with the click of a picture, store timings feature, delivery options, and others. We will continue to upgrade the product to serve our sellers and merchants who depend on our platform for their livelihood,” Suumit says.
Building a scalable app
The main objective was to build a simple, sustainable, and scalable app for people who do not understand code and need a solution for their retail problems. With this in mind, the team built the product with various features for sellers to work with and upgraded the app with more features and options over time.
The evolution was been possible with inputs and feedback from sellers – the founders believe this is the best way to evolve and grow a product.
“We are constantly working to improve and upgrade the app as we understand that technology evolves constantly to meet changing requirements, and that we need to keep up to resolve sellers’ problems,” Suumit says.
In about six months, Dukaan scaled from 0 to three million merchants and continues to grow rapidly.. In terms of the product, they have included innovative features, including:
- Barcode scan: Scan a barcode with a phone camera to pre-fill all product information.
- Marketing suite: Design beautiful WhatsApp stories (custom) with a single click.
- Robust ordering system: Easy-to-use ordering system, which triggers transaction messages on WhatsApp automatically.
- Discount tech: Create custom coupon/discount offers to engage more customers.
- Dukaan finder: End users can browse through the store and find what they are looking for.
- Magic upload: Let’s retail stores upload a large inventory with a click, and reduce the time taken for uploading and management.
- A browser where users can fill in their location, select stores, and order. Merchants can deliver using options such as Dunzo and ShipRocket, among others.
According to several media reports, India is home to over 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), many of which had to pivot to new business models to survive the pandemic.
At present, Dukaan competes with the likes of Sturish and Shopify, which help small merchants start, run, market, and grow their business. Other startups like Baaz are focused on helping companies with their video commerce platforms.
Along with significant growth in GMV, daily active users of Dukaan have increased by 400 percent over the last three months, leading to an increase in the volume and frequency of orders completed on the platform.
Dukaan was launched to support SMBs tide over and flourish during the pandemic, but various individuals have creatively used the platform to raise funds, and deliver food and essentials and medicines.
“We created the Dukaan app with the aim to support and help local businesses that were facing a crisis during the raging pandemic. Within a year, we have evolved into a platform for businesses of any size, volume, and geographical location. We provide multiple business features to simplify the ecommerce lifecycle.
“We will continue to work towards upgrading and evolving technology in the ecommerce space, and aim to grow by half a million transacting stores per month, and over $750 million in annualised GMV within next 12 months,” Suumit says.