Last month, I met Arjun Sarin, Lead of the Strategic Alliances team at Delhi-based GetMeAShop. Our chat provided some interesting insights about the business landscape in India and revealed the priorities and principles of a company who, on the eve of its global expansion, is poised to develop in whatever ways the market may demand.
A snapshot of the Indian Market
The progress made by the countries that led the digital revolution seemed lightning-quick at the time but might, retrospectively, appear slow in comparison to that of today’s emerging markets. Players in India can draw from the practices and experience of more mature online service companies as they look to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population of internet users. Imagine skipping the 90s and the early 2000s and, instead, jumping into the current online landscape of plug-in-play CMS solutions and payment gateway providers. Having said that, the young Indian market also presents unique challenges. Before reading on, I’d encourage you to check out the trends and barriers we’ve identified. Of course, another great way to understand an unfamiliar market is through a look at someone who is thriving within it:
GetMeAShop at a glance
This cloud-based eCommerce and business management provider may not yet be on your radar, but I’d wager you’ll be hearing a lot about them soon. The scope of their offering is expansive, yet intelligently focused, and this past year they’ve increased their team size by 500% and more than doubled their customer base, which now includes around 50,000 SMBs.
With an average age of less than 30, the GetMeAShop team is energetic and highly in tune with the rapidly changing business landscape in India. The company’s success is a direct result of their ability to navigate this landscape in balance with traditional Indian business practices to produce solutions for techies and non-techies alike. As their name suggests, GetMeAShop enables small business owners to launch an online store quickly. However, what separates their approach from many of their North American contemporaries, is that alongside ready-to-use templates and plug-and-play payment processing, they provide highly customized front-end storefronts to those who eschew the idea of DIY (more on this below).
GetMeAShop’s comprehensive product offering
“No matter where or how our customers sell, we become a part of the process.” – Arjun
GetMeAShop is not just a CMS provider with an eCommerce focus. In building a comprehensive product lineup, developing an array of smart proprietary tools, and providing seamless third-party integration options, they’ve created a single platform from which their clients can efficiently market a business, process sales, and manage logistics. Here are some of the tools and services that their customers seem to particularly appreciate:
Full-service website and app development
GetMeAShop developers will work with those looking for a custom website (or a bit of hand-holding) to design a unique shop front-end. They also create custom-built mobile apps (Android or iOS) for shop owners that consumers can then download and use to browse and make purchases.
Social media integration
Facebook is the go-to platform for SMBs in India, with Twitter and Instagram also playing a significant role in eCommerce. GetMeAShop’s social media tool allows shop owners to connect their social handles to their shop and automatically generate promotional posts across platforms each time a new product is released.
Improved customer outreach through Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp
If you have a website through GetMeAShop and an Android device, you can enable a pop-up feature for Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp that allows you to scroll through your inventory and send customers quick links to specific product details. The potential buyer can instantly view the price and pictures of the product—the two things shoppers look for most—right from inside the app.
Email marketing tool
GetMeAShop’s platform includes a WYSIWYG interface that allows shop owners to build email templates and stylize their communications to reflect their brand. They offer the option to send out personalized emails to individuals or market more broadly to specific contact lists.
Through seamless integration with an array of logistics companies, shop owners have the ability to instantly print shipping labels and schedule pickups right from the GetMeAShop platform, meaning a product can be ready to go minutes after an order is placed.
Mobile POS app
Old news to a North American audience, but this was a game-changer for vendors in India, who previously lacked an efficient method for managing inventory on the go or following up with customers with whom they had made an offline, face-to-face sale.
“We are very nimble and flexible in terms of where we want to go; if we see attention from, or potential in, a specific region, we are an agile company that is ready to respond.” – Arjun
GetMeAShop has been operating for four years in India, where they saw an obvious product/market fit. More recently, demand naturally emerged in Singapore, and here they plan to focus their efforts until their presence in the region expands. Arjun emphasized the fact that as they began a more targeted approach, they made it a priority to understand the unique nuances of Singapore’s market and ensure that customers there are comfortable with the platform. As he explained, “We want to make sure that when we enter a market, we are in tune with the way it currently exists. Our product should easily enter the lives of the people who operate within that market.”
He placed this approach in contrast with one that asks customers to “take on new ways of doing things”, asserting that GetMeAShop is “not looking to show customers a new game plan,” but rather to “make their existing processes more efficient to help them increase productivity or reduce costs.” This approach has worked well in Singapore, where service providers often receive a quick, clear “no” if a proposal doesn’t meet a potential customer’s needs.
Arjun’s advice about the Asian market
“All small businesses owners want to grow their business: that’s a commonality across markets.” Arjun offers this response immediately (and with a bit of a playful chuckle) when I ask him what makes Asia’s website solutions market distinct from North America’s. But, he adds, it’s true that Asia is still in the “learning state,” contrasted, of course, with the level of maturity that’s been reached in North America and Europe. “You can expect Americans to do a lot of things themselves on platforms similar to ours,” he explains, “whereas, in Asia, a bit more hand-holding is expected.”
While challenging, catering to customers who expect a high level of service and hold providers accountable to consumer demands, does prepare you well for the global market. As Arjun puts it, “it’s a great opportunity for you to learn as a business. If you can meet the demands of small business owners here, you can meet the demands of small business owners anywhere.”
GetMeAShop’s rapid growth and acquisition by Times Internet may have propelled them out of startup status, but they certainly maintain a nimbleness and level of curiosity that we often associate with young companies. We frequently hear companies claim to have a “customer-centric approach” or “awareness of consumer needs,” but I think the case could be made that in India, your survival as an organization depends on such claims being true. The notion of paying for a DIY service is not widely accepted in Indian culture, and this is coupled with high ROI expectations amongst consumers. Arjun believes that these expectations can only be met by providing personal, customized service, alongside plug-in-play options built to augment existing processes rather than dramatically shift current practices. Amusingly, in their effort to “not change the game,” GetMeAShop is proving to be a key player in a new, radical shift in the Indian economy.
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