February 21, Mumbai: Near.Store a plug and play hyper-local platform for physical/offline stores, today announced that it has raised USD 300,000 as seed funding from Sauce.vc and other individual investors. Near.Store enables a shop to create an online presence and makes the shop products easily discoverable in simple steps. The online presence and ability to be discovered by customers within a close geographical vicinity helps the shops increase their sales. The added convenience of online ordering also helps the shopkeepers in maintaining their customer’s loyalties.
– Near. Store plans to expand to 10 cities and about 500 stores in the next 6 months
Said Manu Chandra, Founder, Sauce.VC, “The Near. The store team has a deep and intrinsic understanding of the Indian Digital space and a proven history of creating and running successful companies. Kirana stores are the mainstay of India’s CPG landscape and getting them digital ready in a zero- effort manner holds great potential for the entire retail ecosystem.”
To be a part of Near.Store platform, a shop owner simply needs to plug in the Near. Store dongle into their existing bar-code scanner/ billing system. The device does not require any additional internet connection, software, electricity, or lengthy implementation process.
Once connected, the device then automatically uploads a shop’s products to create a web storefront. Now, every time a shop owner scans a product and generates a bill, each SKU scanned becomes a part of the online product catalog for each store. This online product catalogue is then used by Near. Store for SEO which in turn makes the store visible and discoverable to customers within a certain geographical reach. A shop owner receives all orders through their existing billing systems. It can also accept the offline or online mode of payments for fulfilling the order.
In a short time, majority of the SKUs of the shop are captured in the digital database- without any additional resources/efforts by a shopkeeper. The digital database can be used by the shop owner for better inventory management as well.
Says Ashish Kumar, Founder Near. Store, “Most traditional stores on an average maintain 5-10 thousand SKUs. For many stores, who have attempted to go online, the first step of uploading the SKUs is often daunting and acts as a deterrent. Additional requirements, such as the need to have a continuous online promotion, maintaining a separate payment system, etc. is equally challenging. At Near. Store, we have managed to simplify the process by introducing the dongle, which plugs itself into the existing system. Our users, therefore, do not need to assign extra resources for going online and can focus on increasing their sales with no extra effort.”
Near. Store is currently in a pilot stage and is present in 2 cities. It aims to expand to over 10 cities in the next 6 months.
About the Founding team of Near.Store:
Near.Store a plug and play was founded by three serial entrepreneurs whose combined experience across various fields helped build out this unique platform that uses proprietary hardware and software: Ashish Kumar, former location marketing company founder; Ramakrishnan A, former Mindtree techie and Diwakar Mitr a former investment banker.
Shripad Nadkarni, a former marketing head of Coca Cola India has also joined the company as a senior advisor.