“Fundamentally, we are trying to empower the retailers through digitisation, business enhancement and new revenue channel.”
Zopper has evolved an innovative e-commerce model based on traffic analytics and enhancement through digital technology, focusing on electronics and mobiles. Neeraj Jain, the CEO of Zopper exchanged ideas with Archana Verma of the Dataquest about the innovative model of his company. Excerpts follow –
Q – How does Zopper work? What kind of technology does it use?
Zopper is a hyper-local market place for discovery, fulfillment and ownership of consumer durables, electronics, mobiles, kitchen appliances and related categories. It’s a very differentiated & inclusive e-commerce model which is enabling thousands of local retailers to participate in the online commerce boom in India and empowering them to compete on equal terms with the big e-commerce platform likes Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon. The existing e-commerce models are fighting the current retail ecosystem by creating a parallel system (either buy directly from brands or big distributors and sell to customer directly cutting the small retailers), whereas the Zopper model is making the retail ecosystem stronger by making them, their inventory and prices visible to the customers online. It’s essentially a Search Online and Purchase Online or Offline model, which is an e-commerce model ‘Made in India’. It’s also a vertical marketplace model operating in a USD 100 Bn market and building deep engagement and solutions for the Electronics/Durable market.
The Zopper model is thus an extremely asset light model and is designed to leverage local retailers’ inventory, warehouse and delivery set up with the intent to increase their business. Zopper draws its strength from the understanding that consumer durables & electronics categories are not just a one-time purchase but an ownership led decision.
Zopper is currently focused on mobile devices, with focus on Apps and m-site. The new web-commerce site is underdevelopment and would be out soon, making it a multi-platform play. We have been leveraging all the latest web and mobile technologies to deliver a great consumer experience. We invest a lot in data mining and analytics to be able to provide personalised customer experience to every buyer coming on our platforms.
We are also investing in Retail automation side of the business which would transform the supply side, our retailer partners. EasyPOS, which is our CRM-cum-POS platform, is being deployed at the local retailers. It will empower them to be more informed of demand trends in local market and can plan their business accordingly. It will also give us visibility on inventory of retailers and make our marketplace experince and operations smoother.
Q – What kind of technological solution does Zopper offer to its customers?
Zopper model has three parts to it –
Discovery: Consumers who are in market for purchase of Consumer Durables or Electronics and doing their search Online+Offline, through the Zopper platform can discover the Retailers ‘Near By’, their Products/Brands and best Prices they have to offer. There is also a whole lot of relevant content like product reviews, retailer ratings, customer rating and reviews, which help customers to make an informed choice. Traffic Analytics is an important component of this component of our model.
Fulfillment: Having identified the Brand/product and the Retailer, the customer can choose to pay either online and order the product or do a COD order. The product is delivered to customers’ homes mostly by the local retailer or the third party logistics partner of Zopper. We are going to offer great finance and exchange options to our customers which are going to facilitate the demand for new product purchase.
Ownership: the categories that we sell hyper-locally are long ownership product categories. People use their TV’s, fridge , Washing machines, Microwaves for 3-5 years; during which they need demo, installation, warranty, repair, preventive maintenance services. Ownership part of our business is being designed around these consumer needs. We want to have a long engagement with the customers and not just one time purchase. The post purchase Installation and Services will be provided by the Brand/Manufacturer authorised service centers but Zopper would be enhancing the pleasure of ownership by offering One Tap service request in tie-ups with Manufacturers/Brand Owners/ Brand Authorised Service providers, so that it becomes hassle free.
For Retailers on our platform
The relationship is one of partnership, since the idea of Zopper is to bring the traffic and business to the local retailers by making them discoverable and visible during the search and buying phase of consumer journey. We use the complex aspects of Traffic Analytics to achieve this.
Once retailers are on-board Zopper platform, they get access to a lot of benefits like:
- Through Zopper App, these regular stores can compete with other e-commerce players as we provide with options like online payments and delivery support.
- Retailers are given a dedicated retailer’s app which tells them about all the orders they are getting, increases the fulfillment of orders and their business.
- We are adding new source of revenue for the local retailer by giving the products that they can sell to consumer. Like Zopper Assure extended warranty. This is product is sold on our App and also through the retailer stores, earning them a handsome margin
- We have acquired a company called EasyPOS, which is cloud based POS cum CRM solution for local retailers. It will help them in supply/inventory planning, billing, demand estimation, working captial management and CRM.
So fundamentally, we are trying to empower the retailers through digitisation, business enhancement and new revenue channel.
Q – Do Zopper’s solutions have any rivals in the market and if yes, who are they? How does Zopper strategize its plans to meet this challenge?
Interestingly, there is not a single offering like ours in the Indian or global market. Our model is very innovative and unique. In India, we get slotted in hyperlocal category but this category is dominated by clones of global companies (Grocery, Delivery, and Food). We are present in neither of these categories. We are focused on Electronics category with a significant focus on related Services (for buyers and merchants) business. We are trying to take the entire existing electronics retail ecosystem and electronics ownership cycle on online platform. No one else has done that earlier. But at the product/category offering level, we compete with traditional e-commerce companies like Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon.
Q – What are the expansion plans of Zopper in India? What are the challenges it faces in this?
Our current focus is on electronics and mobiles. Within this we have 22 subcatgories to offer to our consumers. We would expand our categories to include auto, toys, furniture, luggage and many other categories in future. Any category where products are either expensive or bulky or require after sales support will be suited for hyperlocal e-commerce model. We also want to increase our presence to 50 cities from 28 today in India.
While we have a great model and we are building it by putting all the pieces together, there are some challenges which are also area of big opportunity for us
- Retail network in India though very big and well penetrated, is fragmented and unorganised. These are traditional local businesses who have not adopted technology till now. The challenge for Zopper is to make retailer adapt to the fast changing tech world so that more efficiency can be brought in from inventory, pricing and logistics.
- We want to offer 24 hrs delivery promise to our customers. To make that happen there has to be certain science and discipline which has to be brought in operations through the retailers. Since the retailers are not used to this kind of professional processes, it would take some time to align them.
- While Zopper model is very unique and is aligned with the way Indians buy or want to buy, it is imperative on us to make our customers and electronics brands, that we want to partner for our ownership/servicing business, understand the differences between Zopper hyper-local and traditional e-commerce model. It will help us to create a powerful differentiated consumer brand and partner of big electronics manufacturers.
- Our EasyPOS and Zopper Assure are great products and can add tremendous value to customers. The challenge is to make them the new way of life for customers and retailers.
Q – Has Zopper expanded or does it want to expand outside India? To which countries? What are the challenges it faces in its expansion plans abroad – in terms of markets as well as technology?
Indian market itself is huge and our current focus is on India. We have been getting association interests from prospective partners in Asian and Middle East markets. We would focus on India for our hyperlocal marketplace. For our EasyPOS product, we are in talks with prospective partners in the West Asia. We might make some move there.
Q – Can people in the low-income group use the technology of Zopper? What is your profile of expansion in the low-income group?
Zopper is an open-for-all platform. We have products ranging from Rs.199 to 2 lakhs+ on our app. These range from utility products to premium lifestyle electronics and mobiles. For the low-income group we have options of EMI’s. Currently we give our customers options of part payment on products and EMI options on their purchases. Going ahead with the expansion in low-income group we will be coming up with “attractive & low EMI options”.