Plug-and-play E-commerce platform for offline stores Near.Store recently announced that it has raised $300,000 in seed funding from venture capital fund Sauce.vc and other individual investors.
Near.Store helps offline stores go online, digitize their inventory, develop new consumer relationships and access business data and insights to make their business more efficient. This is done through its proprietary dongle, which can be inserted into a store’s existing barcode scanner or billing system.
Founder of Near.Store Ashish Kumar, while talking about the business model said, “There is a huge potential for the right product, one that doesn’t need a change in behavior at the store. India has over 12 million Kirana (corner) stores, which contribute to over 90% of the consumer goods sales, dwarfing both modern retail and online that together.”
He further added, “For many stores, who have attempted to go online, the first step of uploading the SKUs (stock-keeping units) is often daunting and acts as a deterrent. Our users, therefore, do not need to assign extra resources for going online and can focus on increasing their sales with no extra effort.”
“Most existing solutions depend on mobile apps, which make the process of going online very difficult and time-consuming. In most cases such products get abandoned by store-owners due to the cumbersome nature of their cataloging experience,” said Kumar differentiating Near.Store from other similar model startups.
Talking about the investment, Manu Chandra, Founder of Sauce.vc said, “The Near.Store team has a deep and intrinsic understanding of the Indian digital space and a proven history of creating and running successful companies. Kirana stores are the mainstay of India’s CPG landscape and getting them digital ready in a zero effort manner holds great potential for the entire retail ecosystem.”
Based in Mumbai, Near.Store is led by an experienced team of three digital entrepreneurs with significant experience in digital marketing, digital transformation, and fin-tech. The Near.Store team is also supported by Shripad Nadkarni, former Marketing Head of Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson, Founder of Maverix Food Platforms and Co-creator of the Paperboat and Epigamia Brands.
Near.Store’s other co-founders include Ramakrishnan A and Diwakar Mitr. While Kumar has previously founded and operated a location marketing company, Ramakrishnan has been associated with software services firm Mindtree. Mitr, meanwhile, has worked as an investment banker.
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