On a Saturday morning, Amit Baid, is off to work. On the way, he stops over at the Total Mall in Sarjapur, Bangalore. As he walks in, he looks at the hoardings that his startup has hung outside. The posters, one of the many in the city, urge people to install an application on their phone and claim attractive rewards. The Wharton educated former finance pro, is also working his smartphone.
At the Coffee shop inside the mall, he explains to me the mota mota concept behind Pipal Tech Ventures, his new startup. Delightcircle, the company’s first product around which his whole business is built, is a simple app from the outside. Simply put, it tells people what discounts are running at nearby shops, runs loyalty programs by rewarding shoppers for performing small actions like checking out a product by scanning its barcode using the application and manages various loyalty cards owned by the user. In the future, it will enable customers to make payments and buy products through the app.
But behind this seemingly simple application, is a complex interconnected maze of software, processes and partnerships that tap into the world of the price sensitive, or crudely put, the penny pinching Indian consumer– the skilled mental-mathematicians who break down cleverly packaged goods into comparable units of one before buying. The app solves a few problems for retailers and consumers.
In the last few years, many malls have come up in Bangalore, just like in other parts of the country. From one of the largest mall in the country to the oldest, Bangalore stands testimony to the growing consumerism that India’s 8.2 % economic growth can afford. But for big malls that have spent hundreds of crores of rupees to build the concrete coliseums and many more to run them, the more the merrier.With the recent trend of many consumers buying online and the anticipated onslaught of mega retailers like wal-mart and the occasional vagaries of the weather, retailers and mall owners spare no efforts to get customers to walk into their stores.
Enter location based applications like Delightcircle. The app aggregates information from offline retailers and presents them neatly. The free app figures out your location and tells you what stores are around you, what offers are available and other information like how to get there. It then rewards you if you act upon any of that information. “We even offer customers points for simply walking into the store,” says Baid. But how do they know when you walk in? In shops that are part of Delightcircle, a small ultrasound device detects when the customer walks in and talks to server. “We can narrow down location to 5- 10 meters,” says the Baid, who has been working on partnerships with various retailers at a frantic pace.
In the few weeks from launch, nearly 2.5 lakh offers have been clicked, 90,000 stores have been accessed by nearly 33,000 users over smartphones, sms and the web, he adds. Delightcircle has partnered with large format retailers like Total, Hyper City and Forum Value Mall and many other retailers like Reliance Digital and Lawrence & Mayo. According to Baid, the app aggregates more than 200 brands and over 12,000 stores presently and is rapidly growing. In just over two weeks, the app has managed to have nearly 6,000 customers walk into stores, he says.
The big, macro trends are also in his favor. Indian mobile subscriber base is forecast to reach 696 mn in 2012, up 9 % from 2011. In total, revenues from mobile services in India is expected to reach $ 30 bn by 2016. The Indian retail sector is estimated to be worth $ 450 bn and smartphone adoption in the country is picking up. But like everything around us, success is a factor of many knowns and many more unknowns.