Kartrocket: past, present and future..
KartRocket provides a power packed do-it-yourself ecommerce platform, keeping in mind the unique requirements of the Indian ecommerce industry and Indian SMBs. With KartRocket, Indian SMBs can launch their web and mobile ready stores with best designs, built-in shipping, payment and multi-channel sales integration.
KartRocket emerged out of trying to fulfil a need for a certain shoe manufacturer who wanted to enter the online retail business, wanted a custom design, a single point for all communication and contracts – but did not want to spend too much on it. As we interviewed more brand owners and retailers, we realized this was pretty much a consistent need across the SMB population in India.
The existing solutions in the market operated on a bespoke project model which led to longer go-live periods and no price transparency. Each component of the ecosystem was sold separately at a custom price. The entire process of going online was slow, expensive and cumbersome.
As we explored more, we realized the problem was three-fold: lack of an effective product, lack of aggregators and lack of integrators. This realization offered opportunity enough to quit our day jobs and work full-time on developing the KartRocket product.
We realized that the key to offering an ecommerce platform in India on an on-demand, low-touch and quick time-to-market model would be to offer several prebuilt options to our customers – both in terms of site design and in terms of the ecosystem to support the merchant’s e-tail business.
Our entire functional product development effort came directly from customers. We basically let our pilot customers paint a blank canvas with their requirements and in turn delivered their websites for free. By the 11th pilot customer, there were no more requirements that weren’t already there!
To ease the effort that went into designing the customer’s website, we developed cutting-edge design templates for each industry vertical we were targeting. Now, our sellers could simply choose a template, upload their products & graphics and have a ready ecommerce enabled site in less than 3 days.
To ease shipping, we aggregated leading domestic and International shipping providers into a courier exchange which we called ShipRocket. As demand aggregators, we pre-negotiated bulk shipping rates and offered those to our customers. With real-time integrations we were able to offer one-click shipping to Indian SMBs. This meant no additional contracts, low shipping rates, instant access to shipping and cash-on-delivery collection facilities. It also means access to a much wider geographic range for delivery and cash collection.
We also pre-negotiated rates with payment gateways and instead of pocketing the commission – which was the norm at the time – we passed it on to our customers.
Many of our customers were concerned they weren’t actually making any sales. We knew we had to solve this problem or we would never be able to retain our customers.
We started by integrating product feeds such as Junglee, Shopzilla, Google Products and Bing Products into our system. We also successfully integrated eBay and Amazon with our platform and that gave our sellers a real reason to stick with us.
We added over 100 apps that merchants could “plug-in” to their store to extend their store’s functionality further. Apps allowed our merchants to get specialized features for their needs such as social media, viral marketing, customer service, email marketing and much more. Apps also laid the framework for adding new courier companies, payment gateways, third party integrations and more internal features in the future.
More recently, we have added a micro-services marketplace and a classifieds directory under the brand “Taskr” which will serve as a one-stop shop for all services which cannot be offered over a SaaS model, but are nonetheless required for setting up and running a serious ecommerce business. This stems from the fact that several Indian SMBs require customization and marketing services, which cannot be offered by a company focusing on SaaS. So we decided to create a marketplace of freelancers who would, on pre-defined prices, offer services such as photo shoots, product data entry, image clean up, store setup, store design customization, search engine marketing, pay per click marketing and even product packaging solutions.
With KartRocket, our sellers have the entire suite and tools needed to run their ecommerce business. They have access to beautiful web and mobile store-fronts, ShipRocket: a unique shipping engine, an integrated payment gateway and multiple channels to get sales. Apps help merchants extend their store to an enterprise level platform and also keep our product fresh and ever-growing. Taskr is the answer to all custom work required, without the hassle of getting involved directly. The bundling of the entire solution is what has worked for our company. Indian SMBs want to work with one service provider. Without compromising on the premise of SaaS, KartRocket has been able to become that service provider. A true one stop shop.
From here on
We’re lucky to have found the right set of mentors and investors who have helped define the product and market strategy going forward. We plan to use the funds raised for enhancing the product even more and investing in marketing and sales.
On the product front, our focus will be on creating many more design templates for every industry, adding more online sales channel integrations and making the setup and maintenance process as wizard-based as possible. We believe in productizing as much of the process as possible and being very aware of how our customers are interacting with the product. This will be the key to converting a do-it-for-me mindset present in Indian SMBs to a do-it-yourself mindset – which is crucial for any SaaS business. We are targeting customers in the obvious apparel, accessories & electronics categories but are also actively looking at importers, manufacturers, service providers, restaurants and travel companies who can greatly benefit from a simple yet effective solution like KartRocket.