Unitus Seed Fund invests in m-commerce platform for grocery retailers Jiffstore

Bangalore-based Jiffstore Software Labs Pvt Ltd, which offers mobile commerce and customer engagement solutions to grocery retailers, has secured an undisclosed amount in funding from seed-stage impact investment firm Unitus Seed Fund. Jiffstore will use the capital to further develop its technology platform and to expand its customer base of small shops.

“Retail in India is expected set to reach $750 billion by 2015. Ninety two per cent of the retail market is unorganized, mostly in small shops. We see a fantastic opportunity for a cost-effective m-commerce solution to automate these shops, help them compete and delight their customers,” said Shameel Abdulla, CEO of Jiffstore.

Jiffstore was founded in June last year by four software engineers—Abdulla, Aswin Ram, Satish Basavaraj and Sandeep Sreenath. The startup was initially incubated by Kochi-based Startup Village, before being picked by Times Internet’s TLabs for its latest batch.

The Jiffstore platform helps kirana stores and supermarkets to go online without investing much in technology. The firm also offers an app to end consumers, who can place orders from their neighbourhood stores (in three simple steps) and get the items delivered at their doorsteps. A pay-as-you-go platform, Jiffstore claims that it is seeing 30 per cent month-over-month order growth rate and is looking to bring on many new stores in the coming months.

In an interview with in December last year, Jiffstore claimed it had partnered with 23 stores in Bangalore alone.

“Building a business to serve lakhs of kirana shops is no small task due to the requirement of maintaining an extremely low cost structure while scaling on-the-ground operations quickly,” said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, partner, Unitus Seed Fund. “The diverse experiences of the Jiffstore founding team and their proven ability to get customer traction quickly were key factors in our decision to make this investment.”

Based on growing consumer demand fuelled by ever-decreasing smartphone costs, India’s organized retail sector has been rapidly adopting e-commerce and m-commerce, while small shops have been left behind due to lack of know-how, limited resources and operational complexity. There are an estimated 15 million kirana stores and small shops that could benefit from m-commerce solutions in India.

Unitus Seed Fund, part of the Unitus Group, is a financial services group operating in multiple emerging markets since 2000. The fund essentially invests in BoP startups that serve large low-income populations.

This is Unitus Seed Fund’s fifth deal and second m-commerce related investment in India since January this year, following investments in mGaadi (m-commerce solution for ordering auto rickshaws).

It has also backed ventures like Medypal (online marketplace for healthcare services), dental chain Smile Merchants, Laundry Project early this year.

The fund has offices in Bangalore and Seattle.

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