Founder & CEO of e-commerce platform StoreHippo, Rajiv Kumar, speaks to Progressive Grocer about how his new venture is helping to tap the potential of the booming mobile commerce industry by helping various retailers and enterprises fulfill the ambition of taking their business online…
What is StoreHippo all about and how does it work?
StoreHippo is a flagship product of Hippo Innovations, a company envisaged to help SMEs and individual entrepreneurs to create and launch their m-commerce and e-commerce stores. With nearly 20 years of work experience in the IT domain and a small team to support, the journey of StoreHippo began in the year 2014. Since its inception, the company has been helping various retailers and enterprises fulfill the ambition of taking their business online with its expertise.
Our platform comes packed with features such as cash on delivery, integrated logistics, integration with leading payment gateways, mobile sites and apps, customised features, beautiful themes and SEO-rich tools to ensure an engaging and result oriented platform for these enterprises.
How did you come up with this idea and what inspired you to launch this platform?
While working with numerous mobile and e-commerce platforms, there was the realisation of a void in the existing e-commerce platforms to cater to SMEs and budding entrepreneurs. There hardly was any e-commerce platform that was truly designed for mobile devices, and thus there emerged the need for a platform that could tap the potential of the booming mobile commerce industry.
With the focus on providing a future-ready yet an affordable m-commerce solution that could take advantage of the recent technological innovations, mystore.in was formed in the year 2013 and later renamed as StoreHippo. Eventually StoreHippo was officially launched in January 2014.
What is the current ambit and scope of your operations and what are your plans for expanding your footprint?
StoreHippo is creating customised online stores, for both web and mobile devices. Our target clients are SMEs and budding entrepreneurs who wish to have an online presence. We also create mobile sites and mobile apps for online stores for iOS and Android devices. We have brought many clients under our fold from different industry verticals. Online grocery stores are popular and have become a trend these days. In keeping with this market scenario, StoreHippo, has built and launched many grocery stores like www.groceryonline.ae and http://www.momsfoodstore.com/
StoreHippo currently has clients in India, UAE (Dubai), Australia and Myanmar. We plan to keep on adding more features for the online stores and tap more clients from other countries and diverse industry verticals like healthcare. We are in the process of launching a mobile app called Single Bell which enables the users to conveniently order grocery and daily household products from the local grocery stores. The app can be easily downloaded on smartphones on both App Store (iOS) and Play Store (Android).
How many businesses do you have currently in your platform. What has been the growth rate since you started operations and what are your projections in this regard for the future?
We have more than 500 clients. Our growth rate has been good considering that StoreHippo formally launched in 2014. We have clients in Dubai, Myanmar and UK besides India. We wish to focus on providing quality rather than increasing the volume of clients. We are also offering enterprise solutions to our clients to enable them utilise our USPs better.
Why do you think your platform is more suited for businesses and start-ups targeting the rural market?
We offer lots of scope in terms of online presence for the SMES – whether in rural or urban areas. Rural areas in India typically have a lower bandwidth. The rural-based entrepreneur can take advantage of our platform due to our advanced technology. Our applications are designed to perform faster on mobile devices with a lower bandwidth as well.
StoreHippo is a DIY (Do It Yourself) platform – we give them all the technical support required to run their e-stores with ease. The usage of apps in Tier II and III cities is likely to increase at a fast pace. It is more convenient and cheaper to own a smartphone, download an app and do your online purchases rather than purchasing a desktop/laptop. Users get the benefit of personalisation and enhanced user experience with apps. So StoreHippo is creating mobile apps, which can be used both online and offline as well.
Please explain how the technology supporting this platform is better for interacting with customers, taking orders, online payments, sending home delivery, etc.? Is the technology scalable?
StoreHippo is a SAAS-based platform and works on an advanced MEAN technology stack that is highly scalable. We offer integration with leading payment providers for the online merchants. There are various payment methods so the customers find it easy to pay through their preferred mode of payment like credit cards, debit cards, net banking, EMIs, bank transfer and prepaid mobile wallets. We also offer integration with reputed logistics companies for delivery of products. Besides this, we have a cash on delivery option for our clients.
The online stores are integrated with social media so that the retailers can engage with their customers and take their feedback.
How do you manage the logistics part? How do you ensure that you are able to offer logistics services to your merchants at the best rates possible?
Logistics has always been a pain point for online retailers. StoreHippo has solved this issue by partnering with logistics providers who offer a superfast and smooth service when it comes to shipping and dispatching orders, tracking services, cash on delivery (COD) services and vendor services.
The merchants who are hosted on StoreHippo platforms get the advantage of immediate integration with known national and international courier companies. After a courier company is allotted an order, the current order status can be seen as like dispatched, shipped or delivered.
Retailers can print bills and shipping labels in the required format at the click of a button, making the whole process very simple. The order status can be automatically tracked, and the customers are continuously updated with automatic emails and SMS notifications about the progress of their order.
In order to ensure an efficient logistics system at cost-effective prices, we have successfully negotiated for affordable prices with many vendors as we offer a high volume of work.
In terms of technological tools for providing a competitive edge, what is it that your platform has over other e-commerce marketplaces?
We use MEAN technology stack, which is highly scalable and not used by other platforms. StoreHippo boasts of using the newest available technology to make the experience of browsing through the store seamless and give a blazing fast performance. Also, our stores are inherently mobile-ready so retailers/ enterprises do not have to deploy two different solutions for web and mobile.
Our technology offers the choice of complete customisation for online retailers. They can customise their store as per their needs.
What is unique about your concept and app that will help to attract buyers and sellers? Please explain how the StoreHippo platform will help to address both sides of the story – buyers and sellers?
StoreHippo is a truly mobile-ready platform that offers faster interface for our clients. We create and launch mobile sites and mobile apps for e-stores. Our responsive web design off ers the advantage of creating one design for all devices – mobile/PCs/laptops. There is no need to create diff erent sites for different devices. We also offer a wide range of attractive themes and designs, which can be customised.
As a result of a truly interactive platform, our clients have been able to built up a satisfied customer base. Their customers get the benefit of multiple features, easy navigation, attractive design, mobile sites, mobile apps, and seamless performance of the e-stores.
What value do merchants and buyers get by using your platform? How does it make their lives easier – by providing greater convenience, etc?
StoreHippo is especially focused on the SMEs and budding entrepreneurs who wish to go online. The online stores are pre-integrated with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc This enables the retailers to market their products and brand on social media sites. This way they can garner more web traffic to their site.
We offer SEO-ready sites for our clients so they can improve their rankings and analyse the web traffic. Merchants can create sites for all devices and thus target a larger customer base. Also, merchants get more visibility since they can integrate on other marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Due to the comprehensive packaging for the merchants, the end consumers instantly get the attached benefits of easy navigation, attractive design and option of choosing products from multiple sellers.
Have you worked out your revenue model? Is it cuts/ commissions/ promotional coupons, partnership with companies…Please explain your revenue model?
We work on a simple monthly subscription based model.
Why do you think merchants and buyers will find using your platform good value for money?
At a time when customer satisfaction and a swift online performance has become the key to a successful business, everyone is opting for platforms that are not merely created to ensure an online presence. They are opting for something that can actually help in the engagement at nominal rates. Our subscriptions start from as low as Rs 800 per month.
Which are the business categories and catalogue of products you are looking to bring on to your platform?
The business categories supported by our platform include: grocery, food, apparel, healthcare,electronics, home décor, art and craft/handicraft, jewellery, footwear, home accessories, watches and bags, and beauty products.
What are your marketing and promotional strategies?
We generate leads through digital marketing, and targeted campaigns based upon areas of interest and industry sectors. We reach out to re-sellers too to market our product. This strategy has been very effective and has got us many clients into our fold.
What is the market size you are looking to tap and which regions are of interest to you? Which are the challenges that will test the efficacy and popularity of your platform?
With a successful model in urban India, we are now planning to go deep. We want to make the benefits of mobile commerce reach out to people even in Tier II and Tier III cities. We are already on it and you will soon see certain developments in this sphere. Our reach in foreign markets has made us bullish and now we are planning to tap the US market.