Amit Sharma, an entrepreneur who has been into start-ups from the very beginning of his career,launched ShopX about two years ago. ShopX, which caters to the B2B sector as well as the B2C sector to some extent, helps retailers get their hands on major brands regardless of their location. It’s interesting to note that the company has now reached heights that many wouldn’t have expected this soon.
The first non-profitable start-up thatSharma was involved in was ‘Do Something’, a result of his do-something-for-the-society mindset. Post that, he was in and out of some major organizations including Infosys before establishing ShopX.
Edited excerpts from a conversation with Sharma about the beginnings of ShopX to the company it is right now, plans for the future and more:
What triggered the idea of an ecommerce platform like ShopX?
The trigger was really the combination of trying to understanding the big picture—what’s happening in India, and why ecommerce in its current form is not enough. It was also about understanding the Indian conditions and ground-level observations like where Indians actually shop. Moreover, we looked at the lives of a mid-income consumer and small retailers. You put all of that together and understand that there is a different way to doing things—and that led us to ShopX.
Who is your competition since you are not just into B2B but B2C as well?
I think there are three classes of competitors. First is the traditional ecommerce companies like Flipkart, Amazon, etc. At some point, they will realize that their model is limited. They are already shooting the ceilings; in order to reach the mass market in India you have to do more. You can’t just do what’s been working in Europe and other countries.
The second competition is the other start-ups that are doing similar stuff. There are very few, about half a dozen other companies. And here I think we have a far better team, which matters a lot.Technology matters a lot too so we have a far superior quality stack. And I think it’s a scalable profitable model, which allows space for execution and strategy. We’ve got it figured out much better and the data shows that. Most of our competitors have been around for about 4–5 years and we’ve already reached 5–10 times the scale within two years.
The third competition is really from the existing channels. Consumers are being serviced from a traditional channel, which is your wholesaler so traditional distribution is our third competition.
Consolidation is happening within the ecommerce space with only a few emerging as the big players. What is your take on this?
All of this is happening within the small ecommerce space. Whether it is five companies or two, this is happening within the traditional ecommerce space, which is about 1.4% of the retail space. And the remaining 3–4% are towards the end. However, we are not impacted with what happens within that narrow ecommerce space. We are looking at the rest of the market.
Moving forward, what marketing strategy do you plan to follow?
At some point, we’d do mass marketing, but I personally don’t feel that brands are built through advertising. They are built through execution and serving the customers. As far as marketing goes, I think the first principle is to make your customers happy. And that’s the best mode of marketing. The word-of-mouth spreads and people vouch for you. When we started, it was difficult. This was a new idea and we wereconvincing people. Honestly, traditionally speaking, we do not even have a marketing department and we do not spend on marketing. We have not advertised apart from one or two small instances. That’s almost zero advertising till date. And we don’t plan to do it in the near future as well. We may do some, going ahead, but there’s no social media spend. No newspaper ads. No TV ads. Whatever coverage we have is all organic.