Citymall: Bringing e-commerce to the masses in Bharat

Internet penetration in India has grown rapidly over the past five years, with more than 600 million Indians now having data on their phones. More than 80% of this user base is on social media and content sharing platforms, but less than 15% is enjoying the benefits of e-commerce. This is despite the efforts of various direct-to-customer e-commerce platforms to get people from Tier 2/3/4 cities to transact online. “Two major challenges have limited the adoption of e-commerce beyond major cities: small ticket sizes and the need for support and trust,” says Angad Kikla, co-founder of CityMall, a social commerce company that seeks to create India’s largest virtual store chain on WhatsApp.

CityMall’s community commerce model claims to solve the two aforementioned problems. “Our network of Community Leaders (CLs) act as demand aggregation points, supply chain partners and the front end of CityMall’s engagement with its end-user base. CLs have good social capital, and the fact that they are part of the same community as customers helps new users to trust the platform,” he notes.

According to his assessment, the average purchase ticket size in small cities (~Rs 300) is one-third that of metros and Tier 1 cities, making a D2C supply chain impractical for these geographies. “Home delivery for such transaction sizes makes the supply chain unsustainable, requiring demand aggregation to reduce logistics costs.” Also, customers in these locations are used to buying from neighborhood kirana stores and local bazaars, and it requires a significant amount of guidance, support, and confidence building to get them to transact. online, he adds.

In two and a half years, CityMall has created a network of over 25,000 CLs in 25 city centers across Haryana, NCR & UP. It grew 30% mom over the past 18 months and entered categories such as groceries, FMCG, fashion and general merchandise. “One in three households have purchased from CityMall in cities where we started operations earlier, and in newer cities we are seeing faster acceptance,” Kikla says.

CityMall has raised a total of around $110 million, with its recent Series C being led by Norwest Venture Partners. “Our last three cycles have materialized over 15 months, cementing our belief that community commerce is the way to bring Bharat to e-commerce,” he says. “We are backed by some of the world’s largest institutional investors, including General Catalyst, Citius, Jungle Ventures, Arena Ventures, Elevation, Accel & Waterbridge.”

With the money it raised, CityMall plans to expand to 100 cities and towns over the next 18 months, strengthen its management team, enter new categories and invest in technology. point. “We plan to hire 400 people in the next 15 months.” Regarding future prospects, Kikla says, “We have barely scratched the surface of the e-commerce market in Bharat. The future looks extremely bright as we seek to penetrate deeper into North India and extend our reach to the Western Belt. Our CL network allows us to respond effectively to the needs of our end users. We are well on our way to becoming the biggest e-commerce platform in Bharat. »

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