Hyperlocal marketplace app Zopper brings your neighbourhood store online

Zopper CEO Neeraj Jain shares that the primary aim behind it was to allow shoppers to discover a range of products across various categories from the nearest local store.

There's no doubt that online shopping takes the hassle out of the entire process. But it loses the personal touch we are used to while shopping at local, neighbourhood store. Hyperlocal market place app Zopper aims to bridge the gap. Speaking to Tech2 about the inception of Zopper and the concept of offline to online, CEO Neeraj Jain shares that the primary aim behind it was to allow shoppers to discover a range of products across various categories from the nearest local store.

Explaining the concept further, Jain says that the model leverages India's unique strength of deeply penetrated retail infrastructure. "There is no other country in the world which has India-like retail infrastructure – 90 percent of retail is done through mom-and-pop stores and each state has its own regulatory framework around taxation," he says. "In India, neither a pan-nation marketplace nor an inventory led model is the solution to e-commerce. The only solution which will work in India is online to offline. The customers would want the convenience of online shopping (home delivery, online payments) and benefits of offline shopping which is instant gratification, and after sales support," believes Jain.

Zopper has a team of more than 300 people. Jain says that the model is sustainable through a combination of marketplace and some value added services like Zopper Assure Extended Warranties for buyers and POS for sellers. "We are making gross profit on marketplace and our Zopper Assure and POS businesses are fully profitable," reveals Jain. Speaking further on funding details, Jain adds, "We have raised close to $25 million so far. We are not in the market to raise more money as we will be generating free cash flows before the end of this financial year. Till that happens, we have more than enough capital to last us for next 18-24 months so we don't have any need to raise external capital," says Jain.

The company invests heavily in data mining and analytics to help provide a personalised customer experience for every buyer coming to its platform. It provides insights to sellers too so that they can optimise their business on the Zopper platform. The services are available in 28 cities current and the company aims to take that number to 50 in the next six months.

When we ask Jain about similar offerings flooding the marketplace, he says, "Our model is very innovative and unique. In India, we get slotted in hyperlocal category but this category is dominated by clones of global companies (Grocery, Delivery, and Food). We are not in any of these categories. We are focused on Electronics category with a significant focus on related services (for buyers and merchants) business. Jain adds that they are noticing a significant network effect and current buyers and sellers bringing in more of them on the platform.

Jain strongly believes that for a country like India, the offline to online concept will be very relevant. However, he says that it can succeed only when entrepreneurs are able to figure out business models and revenue channels to build sustainable businesses. "If entrepreneurs just copy the western or Chinese models without realising the unique strengths and weaknesses of our country, the offline to online model will not work," believes Jain.