An intuition of how the future would look like led to Grofshop

One thing that the pandemic has taught everyone is that digital is the only way going forward. But it took a long time for them to realize it. Every retailer, small or big has embraced the new normal of selling digitally; either through a website or Whatsapp.

That this is the future was conceptualized back in 2014 by a group of fresh college graduates. They started a firm called Digisketch which created placement brochures for schools and colleges. They also made websites for those Institutes. Gradually, with time they started getting calls for e-commerce websites for Small and Medium Enterprises. The SMEs were facing tough competition from the giant online e-commerce companies. The team started making some e-commerce websites, but then marketing was a problem and the clients wanted websites done at cheap prices, which was not feasible.

It was at this time that the team thought about making an app through which stores could create their own mini-apps. Omnichannel commerce and O2O (offline 2 online) were just some buzzwords that were gaining some ground in India. The team realized that the O2O commerce will be huge and will be a worldwide phenomenon because no matter what, people would always be buying locally. With this in mind, they created Grofshop (Group of Shops) in 2015, where retailers could create their own store within seconds. They were successful in getting 400+ sellers on-boarded within just a couple of months in Guwahati, India.

But they could not sustain. In 2018, they shut shop after having 400+ stores onboarded. The team went ahead to join jobs, but they were still hung up on the idea of empowering the small stores with Technology. Then in March of ’20, Covid struck. The team realized that it’s is the push they need to bring Grofshop back to life. They started working at weekends and at nights after their day job. They started building the technology in August ’20 and had uploaded the app in January ’20. Their earlier version was a website, but this time around everything is Android-based.

Grofshop.com is the first cluster-based Hyperlocal marketplace. Sellers can create their own virtual store within just 2 minutes and Zero coding. They charge Zero Percent commission on products sold through them. Stores can create categories, upload products, and share them easily with their customers. As and when sellers open their virtual stores in Grofshop Seller App, the Hyperlocal cluster opens up in the Grofshop app, allowing customers to order online from the store on a proximity basis. Grofshop supports more than 30 categories at the moment.

Grofshop works on the principle of Beacon technology. I discussed with their Partha Borthakur, their founder who has said that this time they are prepared with a better business model straight out of the bat. India is a huge country with millions of small sellers and helping them digitally would help India go light years ahead in terms of commerce.

I had a small talk with Partha about the funding team and their past, present, and future. According to him, Grofshop has many direct and indirect competitors now as compared to when they started off in 2015. But he is very confident about Grofshop’s pillars, a.k.a his co-founders Sharanga, Dhiru, and Jugal who believe in the idea and would never back down from any challenge. The past taught them many things, the present is good and the future is uncertain, but the team stands strong and will not rest till they empower all stores digitally.

To know more about Grofshop, try their Seller App or visit their website.