Are you looking to buy some famous and popular things from their localized cities. Now you can get it from Shopatplaces. The team at shopatplaces is dedicated towards bringing things that are popular. For e.g. Lucknowi Chikankari , Kolhapuri Chappals etc. We had a talk with Zuhaib, Founder of Shopatplaces to know more about how they are currently doing it and how their plans for future.
What is the concept behind Shopatplaces?
Zuhaib: Shopatplaces is an e-commerce site which delivers Authentic Products from Places Famous for them to the clients’ home. We can be summarized by the tagline, ‘Famous Products. Best Buys.’
We all love authentic products but have difficulty in getting products of the highest quality at for the correct prices. Who does not want to own Pashmina shawls of from Kashmir or handcrafted Bandhej suits from Jaipur? Demand for such authentic products never diminshes. The problem areas are of authenticity verification, availability and quality assurance and of course, the right price. The maze of unnecessary levels in the supply chain is the culprit behind the many-fold increase in prices.
Shopatplaces eliminates all these problems at once! So, 'Famous Places. Best Buys.' with convenience of shopping from home or office.
How did you come up with the name 'Shopatplaces'?
Zuhaib: Our idea, right from the start, was to make available to customers authentic and unique products from places popular for them. And the brand name had to reflect that clearly.
'Silk Route' was the one which we had initially toyed with as it symbolised the trade in such products from particular places. However, there is an Indian band with this name and hence, copyright issues and all.
Next one which was thrown about was 'Authentic India', for obvious reasons. However, we wanted to keep products from other countries as well and with this name it would have been difficult to do so.
Then, 'Shop At Places' was suggested by my friend's young niece and this was the one which seemed just right. We kept the tagline as 'Famous Places. Best Buys.' and never had to explain the concept of Shopatplaces to anyone after that.
How are you different from other online retailers in India?
Zuhaib: We are not selling brands as the other players are. We provide an opportunity to customers to possess products which are famous from a particular place. Be it Filigree jewelry from Odisha, Brass jewelry from Uttar Pradesh, Tussar silk stoles with Kantha embroidery from West Bengal, Block printed kurtis from Jaipur and so on.
We make these hard to find products easily available to our customers with a guarantee of quality and authenticity, coupled with a promise of best buy. We ensure that we always sell our products at a price which is much lower than the retail price of those products from the places they are sourced from.
We are the first ones in India to execute this idea of ‘Shop At Places’. FabIndia is our close peer but we are not into handcrafted products only.
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced in your entrepreneurial journey?
Zuhaib: Setting up a robust vendor base has been our biggest challenge as we deal with artisans and small manufacturers unlike other players who are retailing branded goods. We left our jobs and traveled across small towns and villages, or Bharat, as we call it, for 6 months straight. During this travel, we learnt a lot and gained conviction that our model will work. There are many supply side constraints, like availability of raw materials, for which we work with our vendors and help them.
Another instance of a peculiar supply chain is of Chikankari apparel from Lucknow. A Chikankari apparel can take up to 6 months to create. Hence, inventory has to be maintained for this particular subcategory and no real time ordering can be done for such products by anyone.
We face new challenges everyday and work with all our might to make the customers smile when they get our products in their hands.
Who all are behind Shopatplaces? Please tell us about their backgrounds too.
Zuhaib: The young founding team is comprised of two, Sherfur and myself, Zuhaib. Sherfur has worked in the Procurement and Supply Chain team of Cadbury-Kraft after getting his MBA from NITIE, Mumbai. I have worked in various IB & PE firms like JP Morgan, Mape Advisory and Casa Capital after finishing my MBA from FMS, Delhi. We were classmates during our engineering days in Jamia, Delhi.
What will Shopatplaces be doing in the future?
Zuhaib: Our immediate plan is to have authentic products from all states of India within the first 12 months of our launch and we are already working on it. So you can expect a number of product launches in the coming months. We also want to increase the number of categories we offer to our customers.
Our long term plan will be to provide internationally known products like Italian leather boots or Indonesian batik print apparel to our users. In a few years’ time, we aim to be the most trusted retailer in the minds of our customers.
Which all locations are you getting orders?
Zuhaib: We are already delivering orders across India and have been getting orders from both Metros and small cities. We hope to start delivering internationally soon - maybe in a month only.
Have you raised any funding yet? If no, would you want investors to reach out to you?
Zuhaib: No, we have not raised any funds till now. We are bootstrapping the business from our own funds and will not go out in the market for fund raising till the time we need a significant infusion. We want to have two numbers on board before we actively seek funds - satisfied customer numbers and revenue numbers.
However, we are actively looking out for mentors and advisors. We believe that advice of experienced mentors is worth much more important than only money. We would be happy if we are contacted by experienced industry veterans who like Shopatplaces and would want to help us grow it.