Sunita Yadav is a school teacher in a village called Tint, about two-and-ahalf hours by car west of Delhi, in Haryana. The closest city is Rewari, some 15 km away. A friend told Yadav about CityMall, “a digital app” as she calls it, and she signed up last September.
Yadav, 44, is a mother of two, and offers private tuitions to help run her household and pay for her sons’ education. And CityMall, a community networking-based online commerce app, adds about ₹15,000 a month to her income, from the commission and incentives she makes, selling mostly groceries to her friends and neighbours. She has 50 to 60 households that are regular customers.
CityMall’s founders Angad Kikla and Naisheel Verdhan, both engineers and repeat entrepreneurs, have added some ‘gamification’ to the app— popular startup parlance for providing incentives for users to do more, similar to how certain achievements in video games can open rewards or new levels and so on for players.
Yadav has cracked three or four levels—based on the number of customers she has brought in and the sales she has notched up—and is a proud ‘silver director’ among CityMall’s micro-entrepreneur partners, all of whom are called ‘community leaders’ by the founders. Kikla and Verdhan started the venture in 2019, but the current model of building a social commerce network around community leaders is a little over a year old, because the duo first experimented with getting customers to buy in groups through WhatsApp.
They were also selling ‘long-tail’ products, such as cheap hair curlers imported from China. The ‘Aha’ moment happened when they realised that a packet of Maggi instant noodles was way easier to sell to more people and at a higher frequency. From there, it was only a few steps more to shifting focus to groceries, converting some of the group-buying customers into community leaders, and offering them an income via commissions instead of savings on purchases.
Today CityMall has some 20,000 community leaders in eight smaller cities and towns—Rewari, Dharuhera, Pataudi, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar, Rohtak and Panipat. Using the app, they aggregate orders from their local communities and CityMall ships the products to them the next day; the community leaders then deliver the goods to the end-customers or the customers collect it from the leaders.
“We aim to put a lot of data analytics in the hands of the community leaders to help them become successful microentrepreneurs,” says Kikla. Over time, the data from the app and the analytics from CityMall help the community leaders understand who their top customers are, or who might want to leave; they can also figure out what they can up-sell and cross-sell.
There is also an app for endconsumers, although they can send their shopping lists through WhatsApp. Over a period of time, however, most people are converted to the idea of using the app to place their orders, says Kikla. This is because of a combination of superior cataloguing that’s possible on the app, compared to WhatsApp, and the gentle nudging from the community leaders. There are over 3,000 products on offer on CityMall, and when individuals place orders through the app, they automatically get aggregated on the community leader’s app.
The consumer app is about 16 MB to download on Google Play Store and there are over 1 lakh downloads, as of March-end. In addition to new deals and discounts every day, and the convenience of easy returns and refunds, CityMall is also trying to engage end-users with other features within the app. “Horoscope is one of the top features that we have,” Kikla says, because many are interested in it. Such features also entice end-users to open the app every day, which sometimes translates into new orders.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
FRANK SLOOTMAN DOESN’T START COMPANIES. BUT NO ONE IN BUSINESS HISTORY HAS A BETTER TRACK RECORD OF TURNING THE IDEAS OF OTHERS INTO JACKPOTS. WITH $80 BILLION SNOWFLAKE, THE BIGGEST SOFTWARE IPO EVER, HE’S REWRITTEN THE PLAYBOOK
Revenge Of Winklev
After losing an epic battle with Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of Facebook and being shunned in Silicon Valley, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are back— this time as budding bitcoin billionaires at the centre of the future of money, the creative economy and quite possibly a new operating model for Big Tech itself
SRF's Coming of Age
How Arun Bharat Ram’s sons have transformed the maker of nylon tyre cord into a specialty chemical player with global scale
European-style breads have gone mainstream in urban India, thanks to a growing bunch of bakers, and a push from the Covid-19 pandemic
Judy Faulkner, the billionaire founder of Epic Systems, pioneered—then dominated—electronic medical records. She’s been the industry’s leading actor for decades, but now the pandemic is fuelling a digital health care race that may finally cost her the spotlight
The Friendly Assassin
David Vélez set out to kill off the fat fees and lousy service of Brazil’s big banks. The operation succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: Today, his no-fee Nubank is the most valuable digital bank in the world, with 35 million customers—and he’s gunning for more
Multi-hyphenate comedian Danish Sait has broken out of his regional playground during the lockdown months and expanded his footprint nationally. And he’s only getting started
A Higher Calling
Billionaire Beau Wrigley is building his cannabis company, Parallel, to be bigger than his family’s chewing gum business—and he’s not banking on getting consumers stoned
Wealth-Creation In A Pandemic
Covid-19 brought terrible suffering, economic pain, geopolitical tension—and the greatest acceleration of wealth in human history. Why this pandemic paradox could become a cause for celebration, not concern
Banking's Newest Billionaire
With a net worth of $1.3 billion, Sanjay Agarwal debuts on Forbes’s list of world’s billionaires. His AU Small Finance Bank aims to be counted among its larger peers over the next decade
INOX goes all Art Deco & chic at Gorakhpur
Human centric design meets art deco aesthetics at INOX located in City Mall in Gorakhpur , Uttar Pradesh. Designed by Sync Design Studio, the entertainment space seeks to offer old world charm in a contemporary setting to cater to the city’s cinema lovers.