The nation-wide lockdown has impacted business owners all over the country. According to news reports, over 7,00,000 kiranas or small businesses across the country had to close owing to various reasons such as relocating to their hometowns, the lack of customers, or no access to godowns that supply a new stock of materials.
To ensure these small businesses stay in the market and to offer them a platform to sell their products, Suumit Shah, a resident of Satara, Maharashtra, has launched an app called ‘Dukaan.’
The inspiration behind the app
After Suumit completed his 12th Standard, he spent one year working with his uncle in his clothing store located in Satara. He would do everything from arranging items on the shelves to helping with accounts and taxes. He later studied at Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli, and graduated in 2013.
He claims that the shop is where he learned the discipline to run a business, the various tactics that help, and also the struggles.
“During my time there, I learned about financial struggles that a small business can go through and the lack of access to new technology which, in turn, affect the marketing of the product. In 2013, after graduating from college, I got placed with an MNC in Mumbai. I was working at the call-center and was not happy with the work I was doing. Soon, I lost interest, and started looking for other opportunities,” he says, adding that this decision led him into a new career path — Digital Marketing.
After completing some online courses on marketing and website development that same year, Suumit started working as a marketing manager at Tiny Owl, a Mumbai-based food delivery application. He went on to work with many other companies. Finally, in December 2018 he launched his startup — Rankz.io — a digital marketing and advertising agency, headquartered in Bengaluru.
The Dukaan App
However, the idea to start Dukaan app came to him when he received a message from a Jockey outlet in Bengaluru, early in May 2020. The message said that the store was accepting orders through WhatsApp, and would deliver the items at home.
“I realised that most store owners have lost physical business. Even my friends were reluctant to go to stores for a few months. That is when I thought about developing an application that could help small business owners living outside metro cities to create an online presence for themselves and go digital,” he says.
Suumit and his team of 10 members, did some initial ground research and realised most business owners were not familiar with the usage of any applications but were familiar with WhatsApp.
With the help of in-house developers working for Rank.io, he was able to develop an application in no time. By mid-May, the application was ready, and the prototype was officially launched.
In this stage, Suumit tested the application with few users and collected feedback from them to modify the app based on their requirements.
In the first week of June, the application was officially launched. While Suumit only approached a few shopkeepers to get them to sign up for the application, he claims that the news spread by word of mouth very quickly, and within 20 days, more than 1 million shops across 400 cities registered on the application.
On the application, store owners can add new products with the prices, and turn off their availability when they are out of stock. They can accept orders, reject them, and view the weekly/monthly sales report.
Neeraj M, a resident of Haryana launched a provision store named Foodies in June. With no customers physically visiting his store, he was already on the lookout for ways to go digital. He says that the Dukaan application helped him serve customers safely, and keep his business afloat.
“The Dukaan app was a blessing in disguise. The application was easy to use, and I could upload all the items present in the store along with the pictures and prices. While other e-commerce platforms have a minimum quantity for purchase, this application does not. That is what makes it unique, users can shop as though they are buying items from that tiny store at the end of the lane. Users can order one item, or 100 items, it is their choice.”
Another feature on the application is that the customers can choose to pick up the items from the store or have it delivered at home for a small delivery fee.
Chirag Gangwani, a footwear wholesaler based in Chhattisgarh says that he was able to cater to customers and other retailers as they could bulk orders on the app too.
“Every day I receive at least 10 orders. Some are from retailers for bulk deliveries, and others are from single users. We have updated our social media handle with this URL, and customers can view everything available in the store on the app. They can also make payments through it, and have it delivered the same day if they are in the same city,” he says.
Today, the application has registered more than 4,00,000 stores across the country, with 2,00,000 products waiting to be sold.
If you are a store owner, you can register yourself on the platform by downloading the ‘Dukaan app’ on the Google play store.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)