Amid COVID-19, retailers in small towns across India have been faced with a hard truth: they have had to go digital for smoother business operations. The need for an online presence has convinced many people to jump on the bandwagon of digitalization, building stores and targeting customers online.
Now, Amazon and Flipkart aren’t the only favorite e-commerce marketplaces for these retailers, which rival the big brands. Mumbai-based CoutLoot is helping these traditional businesses get online.
Through its social commerce platform, the offline-to-online (O2O) startup enables unbranded offline retailers to sell online to shoppers, who can negotiate and purchase products.
Founded in 2016 by Slim Jasmeet, Mahima Kaouland Vinit Jain,helps brick-and-mortar merchants and street vendors sell online by automatically cataloging their offline inventory, providing logistics, payment and reconciliation support.
“We mainly focus on products that are sold on the street. Fashion, of course, is the biggest category selling on the platform, followed by footwear, electronics, electronic accessories and home decor,” Jasmeet Thind, Co-founder of CoutLoot, recount Your story.
Growth over the past year
Last year, CoutLoot’s Gross Goods Value (GMV) increased by more than 6X at $70 million from $16 million in the previous year. In 2019, the startup claimed to have an annualized GMV of over Rs 45 crore.
Additionally, a seller’s average monthly sales increased more than 6 times for 16,500 rupees in December 2021 against Rs 2,500 in January 2020.
“The game isn’t just about getting them [sellers] a single sale, but helping them grow on the platform, so their contribution to overall monthly sales is substantial and they stay on the platform,” says Jasmeet.
It adds the CoutLoot app – which has more 7.2 million downloads – takes into account sellers, their ratings, active sessions on the app, their response to customers and the products they sell, ensuring they get equal discovery and sales.
Jasmeet notes that the Mumbai-based startup is solving demand – one of the biggest problems for these sellers. The startup allows sellers to pay for and promote their stores on the platform, giving them more visibility.
It has integrated retargeting tools to make it easy to reach customers they have done business with before and automatically subscribe to the same store.
CoutLoot claims that its average monthly contribution to these sellers is around 40%.
The startup says it can deliver products within seven to eight days, depending on the delivery partner working in the region. CoutLoot has teamed up with 15 delivery partners including Gati, Delhivery, India Post and DHL to deliver across India.
Since 2019, CoutLoot has nearly doubled the number of vendors on its platform, mostly from Tier II, III, and IV cities.
Currently, it has more 6.5 lakh sellers, of which almost 3.2 lakh sellers (50%) are active every quarter. The startup sees a monthly average of 1.7 lakh sellers on its platform.
For CoutLoot, it worked well as these merchants usually struggle to sell on Amazon and Flipkart. “They don’t know how to use Excel sheets; they don’t have computers or tax certificates,” adds Jameet.
Historically, traditional businesses, with small teams, have competed against larger companies on e-commerce sites to acquire customers, market their products, and more. In fact, the major e-commerce platforms are only dominated by a handful of traditional sellers, unlike CoutLoot. Since these retailers can negotiate with their customers, CoutLoot creates relatively fairer competition between brands.
According to Jasmeet, the startup is more like an online “bazaar,” where 90% of sellers operate physical stores.
Most CoutLoot sellers reside in North and Central India, allowing users to communicate and transact in their regional language, especially Hindi.
Every month, the company claims to place more than an average of four lakh orders. The average value of a customer’s order is Rs450.
“About 40-50% of sellers would make 70% of sales on our platform,” he says.
coutLoot has over 10 million users, growing more than 2.5 times, up from 3.5 million users since last year. Over two million users use the app every month.
The path to follow
Last month, CoutLoot launched a video commerce feature to help sellers promote their brands through videos describing their products and store.
This, adds Jasmeet, is a big opportunity for the startup, given India’s live trading market. $4-5 billion GMV by 2025according to RedSeer.
In September 2021, CoutLoot had raised $8 million in a pre-Series A round led by venture capital firm Ameba Capital, with participation from SOSV, 9Unicorns and Astarc Ventures.
At the time, Kevin Wang, Managing Partner at Ameba Capital, said, “CoutLoot has best served the growing consumer needs of over 500 million Tier II, III Indians by converging retail into online and offline. in the country will see successes like what happened in China, like Taobao, Tmall and Pinduoduo, or even Tiktok creating conversational social commerce, supported in the local languages of India.”
The startup expects to close another funding round worth $25 million soon.
It recently launched a feature to help factory sellers on the platform, making it easy for them to find products for their business. CoutLoot plans to monetize this business-to-business model by sourcing products directly from factories to sellers at cheaper prices, benefiting from some margin difference.