Co-op sector too catches e-com fever: GoCoop gears up to turn online marketplace

Bengaluru-based startup GoCoop, an online platform for intra and inter collaboration between co-operative societies, is re-launching its business model as an online marketplace which is slated to go live by the third week of August 2014.

"Right now you can see products listed of co-operatives and go directly to their page and enquire or buy. This marketplace will provide very small co-operatives to sell their products," explained Siva Devireddy, Managing Director, GoCoop.

New format

The new marketplace will support both B2B and B2C channels, the latter being a first for the co-operative segment. "Many small producers are not interested in B2C. Economies of scale do not work for them and typical e-commerce companies do not touch the segment of co-operatives," Devireddy added.

In December 2013, GoCoop raised funds from seed-stage impact investor Unitus Seed Fund and Indian Angel Network (IAN) for an undisclosed amount. It is using this capital to build the marketplace by investing further in technology, marketing efforts as well as support service-both on the buyer and seller side.

 Co-op sector too catches e-com fever: GoCoop gears up to turn online marketplace

Siva Devireddy, Managing Director, GoCoop

The GoCoop Marketplace currently allows producers of co-operatives to list their products and sell them through their own eShops. "The GoCoop Marketplace is being enhanced in our next release which would enable buyers to transact with different co-operative producers directly from the marketplace. The payments would be processed through a common payment gateway and nodal bank account," explains Nagaraja Prakasam, an angel investor at IAN who is also spearheading the Impact Ventures initiative.

In the existing model of the startup that was launched in October 2011, four independent verticals co-exist, each with a unique feature/ service. The first vertical launched in January 2012, three months, post the startup came into being, is a directory for co-operatives-a free service providing a business profile with a listing of products. Currently GoCoop has 3,200 co-operative societies from across 15 states on its platform.

E-listing, a B2B service, operational from April 2012 has 150 customers today. This is a product catalogue which helps co-operatives get bulk buyers and is targeted at wholesale buyers. GoCoop creates a catalogue with up to 20 products and helps generate leads. The sign-up fee for this is Rs. 8,000 per co-operative per year.

In March 2013, it launched an e-commerce arm where GoCoop helped societies build independent online stores where customers can go directly and shop, akin to a mall for co-operatives. This vertical has 7,000 products currently and 10 customers who are charged anywhere between Rs. 50,000-75,000 for a 100 product catalogue.

"Building the catalogue takes time," said Devireddy. The E-connect feature enables buyers and sellers to communicate directly. Besides, the platform acts as a social feed for all connections and collaborations between GoCoop registered members.

The strategy

The fully functional marketplace will integrate all existing verticals at the back-end to enable societies to buy, source (bulk purchases), and collaborate on GoCoop with a common service. The sign-up prices and features remain unchanged.

"There are over six lakh cooperatives in India of different types with varying degree of competency to adopt online marketing as a channel or strategy. Our strategy is to work with medium to large cooperatives in the Craft sector to start with and then gradually educate and enable smaller co-operatives to participate in the online marketplace," said Prakasam, sharing GoCoop's business strategy.

Devireddy said Prakasam must focus his energies on creating awareness among co-operatives about the benefits of technology to get access to regional, national and global buyers and consumers through an online marketplace with the aim of securing better prices for their products.

Devireddy told Firstbiz of his plans to adopt a content-based marketing strategy through blogs, pictures and videos and is in the process of mobilising a team for the same. "It will be more story telling rather than advertising," he said.

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2014 11:41:34 IST