Singapore-headquartered Shop Your World Pte Ltd, that owns and runs an India-focused horizontal e-commerce portal Shopyourworld.com, has raised an undisclosed amount in their first institutional round of funding from Singapore National Research Foundation. Two VC firms—iGlobe Partners and WaveMaker Labs, also participated in the round. The capital will be used for development of technology, marketing, enhancing logistics and supply chain.
Based in Singapore and Mumbai, Shopyourworld was founded by Sandip Shah in 2010. Shah was the managing director at Elbee Services for 16 years before starting Shopyourworld. Public-listed logistics firm Elbee Services shut up shop almost a decade ago.
Shopyourworld offers products across categories like books, mobile phones, laptops, fashion accessories, home appliances, movies & games, toys and health & beauty. It has a warehouse in the US from where products are shipped to India.
Unlike pure inventory led e-com businesses, where foreign investment is not allowed as per existing norms, in effect, Shopyourworld serves as a distribution and import partner for foreign retailers with an online interface for the consumer. It does not hold inventory itself, but facilitates distribution of the products in India.
Shop Your World Pte’s Indian arm coordinates the last mile product delivery to the consumer through third-party logistics firms besides providing other ancillary services for the business.
Products sold through the site can also be bought in India from international sites directly but consumers would then need to pay for shipping costs besides import duty. Shopyourworld eases the pain with local currency billing as against say what Amazon US site would charge (Amazon India site need not stock all products available in the US) in dollar.
Another site which offers such an option is eBay with its Global EasyBuy option where Indian consumers can buy products from abroad. However, unlike Shopyourworld, eBay is a marketplace.
Since almost all products are sourced from overseas, some branded products which are also available in India are much cheaper in other sites.
According to the company, what differentiates the portal from other e-commerce sites is that it lists global brands from the UK and the US for Indian buyers and products that are not available in India elsewhere.
It scores in terms of product choice with its tie-up with international retailers such as Macy’s, Selfridges and Tesco. According to the firm, it allows users to shop from any website in the US or UK through its custom order feature. Customers need to fill out the details of their order and the e-tailer promises to revert back within 24 working hours with a price quote.
If one chooses to proceed with the order, Shopyourworld provides a delivery date and with a tracking number to check the status of the order.
Then again, many of these third-party retailers (for instance Macy’s and Bloomingdales) already offer India shipping for the products listed on their site with rupee price tags. Shopyourworld works on this by two ways—the customer can either place an order via Shopyourworld or can place an order on the third-party retailers and Shopyourworld renders its logistics services for shipment. Shah said since most of these international portals don’t offer shipping to India (some of them do) that is where Shopyouworld fits in. “While majority of the customers directly place orders via us, the customers who want to purchase from third-party sites benefit from our cheaper logistics,” Shah said.
The website offers a clean user-interface and one can find all kinds of branded, expensive products which might be difficult to find online in India. It is looking at innovation in payment options. While the cash on delivery (COD) on some products would be launched two-three weeks from now, the co-founder and MD said the firm is looking at other flexible payment options. “We are looking at options like split payment methods where customer can split the value and pay by two credit cards. Also for selected products we are looking at enabling 50 per cent COD and 50 per cent online payment,” Shah said.
He said the firm is also looking to raise a Series B round worth $15-20 million soon which will be used for marketing, expanding the facility in the US and starting a warehousing facility in the UK.
Shah said the firm’s target audience is only upper middle class and above. “Our average order size is Rs 6,000 which is itself more than three times of the average order value of any Indian e-commerce site. Our value proposition is very different,” he added.
Both the participating VC firms—iGlobe Partners and WaveMaker Labs—are Singapore-based, APAC-focused investors. WaveMaker Labs typically invests $589,000 of seed capital in each startup along with Singapore’s National Research Foundation. It also provides office space to startups that need it. The Singapore National Research Foundation is a department directly operated by the Prime Minister’s office and is chaired by the PM.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)
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