New Delhi: Bangalore-based Meesho, which provides online solutions for merchants to sell through social networking platforms, on Thursday said it has raised an undisclosed amount in an angel round from Kashyap Deorah, co-founder of HyperTrack and author of The Golden Tap, Rajul Garg, founder of Global Logic and Maninder Gulati, chief strategy officer of Oyo Rooms.
VH Capital, a Mauritus-based fund, besides other angels including Arjun Malhotra and Rohan Malhotra of Investopad, Hong-Kong-based banker Abhishek Jain and head of e-commerce at Mahindra & Mahindra, Jaspreet Bindra were the other investors who participated in the round.
The company will utilize this money in marketing and enhancing technology.
Meesho (Fashnear Technologies Pvt. Ltd ) was founded by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal. The company provides merchants solutions to engage their customers through social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. It currently works with over 1,000 merchants.
According to Aatrey, it is very common for Indian small and medium businesses to use WhatsApp groups to keep their customers updated on new products and close transactions over chats.
However marketing on a platform like WhatsApp has its own limitations. Pictures of products sent through WhatsApp consume a lot of data of the customers. Besides this, not every customer wants to receive information about each and every product that comes in the market. There is no concept of customization. Customers thus start leaving the group because of these reasons. Also in such transactions, merchants have to adhere to offline channels for payments.
Meesho creates online pages for these merchants which can be managed from its mobile app. Merchants can update products, edit the store, manage orders on these pages.
Sellers can share these links on Facebook and WhatsApp with customers. The customers can browse through the product collection and chat with the sellers. Even the sellers get realtime updates of the shop visitors and the products they are visiting. They can start a chat on WhatsApp with these customers right from the app.
When the sales is closed, the seller can share a payment link on WhatsApp and accept payments through credit, debit cards or wallets.
If a customer comes to the page and sees a product but goes out without purchasing, the merchant will get to know about it. They can then message the customer asking what went wrong, said Aatrey.
With Meesho, communication between merchants and customers is streamlined and less intrusive, which increases the lifetime value of a customer, he added.
The company soon plans to add logistics partners as well to facilitate the delivery for its merchants.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) is a large market.
According to Meesho, India has 50 million registered small businesses. However currently, only about 1 million of them are online, mostly selling through Facebook and WhatsApp. This leaves a huge opportunity for companies who want to tap the rest of the merchants and facilitate online marketing for them.
Last year e-commerce firm Snapdeal also launched a marketplace called Shopo to help small and medium businesses who want to sell products on a small scale.
Among other companies that cater to SMBs is KartRocket (BigFoot Retail Solutions Pvt. Ltd) which raised around $8 million from investors such as Bertelsmann India early this year.
However, unlike Meesho which leverages more of social media, KartRocket provides companies web and mobile-phone sites, payments and logistics capabilities and marketing and promotion tools.
Online retail is expected to increase to $48-60 billion by 2020 from $4.47 billion in 2014, according to a report by UBS.