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Near.Store: How it is Connecting Customers to Nearby Stores?

Company Profile is an initiative by ListMyStartUp to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by Near.Store.

The e-commerce sphere is widely changing these days. With Kirana stores entering the online space, the hyperlocal e-commerce sector is getting more dynamic than ever. In the same sector, Ashish Kumar, Ramakrishnan A, and Diwakar Mitr founded Near.Store in 2018.

Let's walk through the Journey of Near.Store along with getting a glance of the Near.Store founders, Business model, Funding, Revenue model, how it started & more.

Near.Store - Company Highlights

  • Startup Name-Near.Store
  • Headquarters-Mumbai, India
  • Industry-E-commerce
  • Founders-Ashish Kumar, Ramakrishnan A, Diwakar Mitr
  • Founded-2018
  • Total funding-$300,000 (Seed Round)
  • Parent Organization-Ekasta Tech Private Limited
  • Website-near.store
  • Contac- Emailhello@ekasta.com

Near.Store - About and How it Works

Near.Store is an instant plug and play solution to create a digital presence for any shop. Near.Store devices need to be plugged into an existing billing system of any establishment. Once active, it creates a unique online presence on the Near.Store platform for the shop. This enables a mom-n-pop shop to be discovered online, generate online sales, attract new customers and build loyalty with the existing consumer base.

Near.store plug and play device

Near.Store aims to provide a plug and play e-commerce platform format for all offline retailers by making the products visible on any local search results. For example, if a person living proximity of any Near.Store enabled shop, is looking for a specific brand of shampoo, the search results will show the local shop as an option to purchase. Till now, any such result would take a customer only to eCommerce sites such as Amazon or BigBasket.  

To be a part of the Near.Store platform, a shop owner simply needs to plug in the Near.Store devices to their billing system. The device does not require any additional internet connection or a lengthy implementation process.

Once connected, the device then automatically uploads a shop’s products to create a web storefront. Now, every time a shop owner scans a product and generates a bill, each SKU scanned becomes a part of the backend database for each store.

Near.Store - Founders and Team

Ashish Kumar, Ramakrishnan A, and Diwakar Mitr are the founders of Near.Store in 2018. They have worked together on another startup before Near.Store and hence this venture was an extension of their existing partnership.

The founders have known each other since 2005. Ramakrishnan and Ashish went to business school together (ISB, Class of 2006) while Diwakar and Ashish were colleges at BDA Partners – a leading boutique M&A Advisory. The founders have an average of 15 years of work experience across various sectors.

Ashish Kumar

Ashish Kumar is known as the Co-founder and CEO of Near.Store. Kumar is an MBA degree holder from the Indian School of Business in Finance/Marketing. Before founding Near.Store, Ashish served in more than one companies as Associate and Manager. The list includes Deloitte, DTZ, Jones Lang LaSalle, Shapoorji Pallonji, and has finally served IndiaBulls as the VP of Fund Management. Kumar has also been a Co-foudner of another firm earlier named Spiral9 Interactive, in which he also served as a Partner.

Ramakrishnan A

Ramakrishnan A is another Co-founder of Real.Store, who is also the CTO of the company. Before founding Real.Store, Ramakrishnan has also founded BeaconsTalk Technologies and Pinprox Technologies. He also served many other companies in crucial positions, which includes the role of Associate Director at Mindtree. Infosys, iRunway, Ikanos Communications, and Sasken, are some other companies where he worked as the Senior Software Engineer and as a Consultant. The CTO of Real-Store holds a BE degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering along with a PG program in Operations and IT Management and Strategic Marketing.  

Diwakar Mitr

Diwakar Mitr is a alumnus of Dartmouth College, where he studied AB, Economics, Computer Science. Before founding Near.Store, Mitr was associated with BDA Partners and later founded BeaconsTalk Technologies with one of the founders of the company.

Ramki is the CTO and has over 16 years of hardware and software development experience. Ashish looks after business development and fundraising, Diwakar handles the overseas operations and finance while Ramakrishnan heads technology and engineering at Near.Store.

Shripad Nadkarni, a former marketing head of Coca Cola India has also joined the company as a senior advisor.

Near.Store - Startup Story

Before starting Near.Store, Ashish Kumar, Ramakrishnan A, and Diwakar Mitr were working together on another tech-led startup that helped shop owners make real-time coupon offers to its customers in a hyper-local presence. This gave them a detailed understanding of how a shop interacted with its customers. They also realized that while most shop-owners wanted to counter the competition from the online stores like BigBasket and Amazon, they lacked the technical know-how.

Most of them found the process of creating an online catalog and linking to online payment mechanisms difficult to manage. Hence this trio started to pilot with some of the shop owners that they already had established a relationship with. Based on the positive response and feedback, this trio team slowly developed a product and offerings and did a pilot launch in January 2020.

Near.Store - Name, Tagline and Logo

The co-founders wanted the name to be simple to use and easy to understand.

“It signifies the fact that we are bringing the store closer to the customer. However, from a shop owner’s perspective, since it is about being discovered by local area customers, it represents a shop which is Near and reachable.” said Ashish Kumar, Cofounder of Near.Store.

Hence they finalized on “Near.Store”.

Near.Store - Business Model and Revenue Model

Near.Store charges a flat fee to the customers when they order through the platform. As the venture grows in volume, it hopes to generate business through advertising and promotional banners on its online platform.

Near.Store - Target Market Size

According to industry reports, there are 17 million offline shops in India. There has been a latent desire amongst the shop owners to go online and counter the increasing competition from online stores like BigBasket. However, most shop owners, who are not yet comfortable with technology, find it difficult to create a website and the shop catalog and dealing with online payment systems.

E-commerce and online purchases are slowly becoming more common and frequent. To maintain customer loyalty and expand their existing businesses, the offline shops will need to create an online presence and hence the market for services like Near.Store is likely to expand.

Near.Store - Startup Challenges

Major milestones that this Offline to Online or O2O portal had to face were:

Developing a product that makes it simple and robotic for a shop to go online. This company wanted the process to be equivalent to a self-driving car. Experimenting with lots of hardware/software and cloud-based options before arriving at the perfect combination of the product posed the challenge of optimum utilization of resources.

The biggest challenge for Near.Store was to create a comprehensive database of products available in the Indian market with standard bar codes. The team had to source the data from over 100+ different sources and then create a high-quality image bank of all the products.

Near.Store - Funding and Investors

In February 2020, Near.Store raised its seed capital round for $300,000 from Sauce Venture Capital.

Near.Store - Advisors and Mentors

Sripad Nadkarni is the mentor and advisor for this firm. He is the ex-marketing head of Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson and the founder of Maverix Food Platforms and co-creator of the Paperboat and Epigamia Brands.

Near.Store - Growth

After launching the product, the founders started approaching the shop owners that they already had a relationship with. In January 2020, they hired a few marketing professionals and have been thrilled with the positive response so far.

After the lockdown due to Covid-19, they had to pause onboarding stores. They tied up with Brands and offer aggregated delivery to large housing societies. Large brands such as Cadbury, Oreos, Epigamia, P&G, Organic India and The Bakers Dozen are available on Near.store within a month of commercial launch. They are currently delivering to 55 housing societies in Mumbai, giving them access to more than 22,000 people across Mumbai.

“We have over 126 customers and we have added reputed brands to our store .We are helping the kiranas by ensuring supplies reach them even during the lockdown.” Added Ashish Kumar, founder of Near.Store.

Operating Locations – Mumbai, Bangalore, NCR (phase 2)

To date, Near.Store has 126+ shops as partners.

Near.Store - Future Plans

Going forward, they intend to take a channel sales approach to scale rapidly, given the simplicity of the products for both understanding and installation. Therefore, it is easy for any distribution company to quickly sell the product using their existing networks and resources. Near.Store is in the process of tying up with organizations such as

Trade Associations and Retailers Associations such as CAIT

  • FMCG Distributors
  • FMCG Brands

Distributors and Manufacturers of POS machines and Barcode Scanners

The future Scale-Up Plan for Near.Store is to reach 25,000 stores by 2021.

FAQs

What is Near.Store?

Near.Store is an instant plug and plays solution to create a digital presence for any shop. Near.Store devices need to be plugged into an existing billing system of any establishment. Once active, it creates a unique online presence on the Near.Store platform for the shop.

Who is Near.Store founder?

Ashish Kumar, Ramakrishnan A, and Diwakar Mitr are the founders of Near.Store.

How much is Near.Store funding?

In February 2020, Near.Store raised its seed capital round for $300,000 from Sauce Venture Capital.

How does Near.Store make money?

Near.Store charges a flat fee to the customers when they order through the platform

What is Near.Store tagline?

'Nearest, Fastest' is the tagline of Near.Store

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