If you’re a small business owner in India, November’s probably not looking like your month. In addition to running your business, you might be worried about going digital as cash transactions become harder and harder following the government’s move to demonetize some notes. ATMs have put a limit on withdrawals, making it hard for consumers to get their hands on cash. It’s also difficult for merchants to make change.
Tackling digital payments may seem daunting for a shop owner who has always operated with cash, Singapore-based Shopmatic has released a product that might help. Shopmatic lets users in India, Singapore, and Hong Kong build their own online stores, complete with a payment gateway. This month, the company released Shopmatic Go, which is a streamlined version of its product, specifically for Android. Shopmatic Go allows sellers to set up their online stores, get their own online domains, accept online payments, advertise to customers and a social circle, and get reports on successful sales.
Much like its parent product, users can take snapshots (or pick from the app’s photo gallery) of their products and/or services, fill in the product details, and share the store (and its stock) through channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and email.
I was able to set up a shop of my own on Shopmatic Go. It took about five minutes instead of the two advertised, but it was surprisingly straightforward, much like signing up for a subscription. I put in my business address and phone number. Then I took pictures of my merchandise and enter in pricing information, along with how many of each item I had in stock. I enabled the payment options I wanted with a couple of finger swipes, and my store was published. I had the option of publishing it on different social media outlets as well. Shopmatic Go is a limited version of Shopmatic’s original product (which allows for more customization), but it can still create a complete website. It competes with ecommerce site builders like KartRocket and Zepo.
For shop owners in India, the Shopmatic subscription service costs about US$20 for a month – customers pay nothing to use the platform, save a small processing fee for a successful payment. The company uses Citrus Pay for transactions within India – credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, and net banking – and PayPal for payments across borders. It also has partnerships with logistics provider Aramex and the Confederation of All India Traders. The startup has offices in Singapore, Gurgaon, and Bangalore, and its development team is located in Taiwan. It has a team of around 50 people, most of whom are based in India. Shopmatic’s co-founders – Anurag Avula, Yen Lim, and Kris Chen – all used to work at PayPal, which makes operating a business across geographies easier. “It wasn’t about leaving PayPal as much as it was about creating a solution,” CEO Anurag tells Tech in Asia. We sit at a picturesque hotel cafe, where he, Yen, and the rest of the team present in Bangalore have supplemented the fancy hotel treats with trays of peppermint patties and Tim Tams. “We used to work at PayPal in the region, and the idea of enabling online commerce for individual entrepreneurs – we wanted to do that.”
The business is not limited to startups – Anurag brings up an entrepreneur who makes cupcakes at home and wants to organize her orders through an online channel or someone who makes earrings. “[That type of business] is not a startup in a true sense, but we’re helping them to startup their business,” he says. Creating a mobile version was the next step on the way to hitting that goal. Over 20,000 customers use Shopmatic at the moment. The team plans on expanding to Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines within the next six months.