He Wants to Make Indian Housewives Financially Independent
Sellers on Elanic has brought in an average of $250 USD income to themselves through a 12-minute commitment per day, with the top 5% sellers making as much as $1500 USD and some making well over $5000 USD.
During the recent GMIC Beijing conference, where leading internet companies from around the world joined and shared their business inspirations, I had the honor to meet Palkush Rai Chawla. Palkush is the co-founder of Elanic, a fast-growing e-commerce platform in India. To summarize what they do in one sentence, Elanic is an online marketplace for fashion items (clothing, jewelry, handbags and etc).
In practice, anyone can register an Elanic account and start selling used, or new, merchandise right away. “We want to empower everyone to sell and make money, that is our mission here at Elanic,” said Palkush. In the case of India, Elanic is especially popular among young housewives. It has become a powerful tool for them to strive for financial independence.
Launched in May 2016, Elanic has already grossed over 3 million app downloads. It has also achieved a stunning 75% seller 90-day retention rate. The number of transactions taking place is currently growing at 20% month-to-month.
Make the Sellers Happy
“How long does it take for a product to sell after the seller posts it on Elanic is a very important metric to us,” Palkush stressed. To an e-commerce platform, nothing is more important than making the sellers satisfied. There are three main areas Elanic focuses on to helps sellers make sales as quickly and easily as possible: gamification, social features, and logistics.
After a seller registers on Elanic, the app immediately incentivize the user to complete a series of gamified steps to strengthen his or her profile. This is crucial to sellers, especially to those without prior experience of running a shop online. It quickly brings new users up to speed in terms of maintenance tasks, how to make their profiles more attractive to buyers and etc.
There is a strong social component to Elanic. Buyers can chat directly with the seller to bargain for the price, or simply ask for more product information. Users can also form groups on their own to curate products of a certain category. If you browse through the group page, you’d immediately find that there are tons of active groups created by Elanic users in catering to individual’s unique fashion taste. In a way, Elanic acts an active online fashion community for all parties to engage with one another.
Logistic is a problem for many emerging e-commerce platforms, as shipping providers are relatively scattered in India. Elanic tackles the problem head-on by working directly with many of the local carriers. As soon as the user places an order, the back-end algorithm automatically calculates the best carrier options, and send the shipping label to sellers through email. Carriers are immediately assigned to pick up the package. All sellers need to do is to print the shipping labels. Additionally, to help ensure package security and bring a more consistent customer experience, Elanic also sells premium shipping packets to sellers at half of the production cost.
Elanic Market Size
To understand the market size for Elanic’s business model, we have to understand the context of India’s middle class, culture, and economy. As one of the fastest developing economies in the world, India has been consistently growing at over 7% in GDP for the past few years. It is a country of growing business opportunities and a rising middle class eager to better their financial status by means of entrepreneurship.
Traditionally, Indian women are not particularly encouraged to participate in employment. Even today only about 16% of India’s urban workers are females (2015-2016). However, things are changing. More women are receiving higher education in India. As a matter of fact, over 80% of urban Indian women are now literate, which means they have the desire, power, and capabilities to potentially create an income for themselves and the family.
“In India, 75% of the daily purchase people make are unbranded products; however, today, in e-commerce, 75% of the purchase people make are branded products, so there is a huge gap…” said Palkush. For unbranded goods, there is no apparent infrastructure or logistic network to make them available nationwide. Therefore, the demand for unbranded merchandise is significantly under-represented in e-commerce.
“Before the Internet, Indian women used to go on these shopping trips. They’d bring back suitcases full of dresses, invite friends and family over for them to buy,” Palkush shared with me. In a way, Elanic is ‘shopping trips’ of the Internet age. It also makes the process a lot more convenient, organized and scalable. People can just take a picture of their product, post it on Elanic and start selling within minutes.
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