Boonbox is here to fulfil the wishes of rural India. And to help them tick their wishes off the bucket list without any hassle, the company is reaching out to tier-3 and tier-4 towns right from the taluk level, with a population less than 30,000 for whom major e-commerce players are still out of bounds.
In an e-mail interview to DC, Ramachandran Ramanathan, one of the founders of the company, says, “It’s a technology platform for providing products and services to consumers who live in tier-4 and tier-3 towns and villages and are currently access deprived. Through the company’s “Rural Last Mile” logistics network, products are delivered at the doorstep of the consumers in remote villages. The company also ensures that regular follow-up takes place with the customers, and promises them after sales service to provide a top class purchase experience.”
It’s quite an easy execution for the company with an affiliate (not a full-time employee) picked from the local community. “We have a local affiliate in each of the villages who assist the consumers with the products available on the app. They place the orders on the consumer’s behalf and then collect the money. These products are delivered by Boonbox through its hub & spoke method.”
Ramachandran believes India has one of the biggest unserved rural markets or to say in his words, “They are aspiring but are under-served.” And to make sure they retain the trust of the consumers for good and they continue to serve in a hassle free way, the affiliate will capture the latitude and longitude of each patron they reach at the time of delivery.
Talking about challenges including lack of proper infrastructure, variability in assortment, Ramachandran says, “Rural being a white space, the founders had no benchmarks to follow. The company’s business model was arrived at after multiple iterations and is just over 3 years old. It is based on continuous learning and is building on our experiences.”
He adds, “After sales, service is a big challenge in the deepest strata, Density is very less to make it commercially viable. Aggregator and co-creation model are required to solve these hallenges/fragmentation.”
Holding on to the ground strong is important even though there is little competition. “FMCG brands like ITC and HUL have tried to break these peculiarities around these rural markets, but not being multi- faceted and a complete aggregator market, they haven’t been able to succeed in this market. Only Boonbox has been able to deliver everything from FMCG to white goods, whatever the customer aspires for. So we believe co-creation and aggregation is the key to succeed in this market for which Boonbox has been the pioneer.”
The rural e-commerce firm currently operates predominantly in villages in South India, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh and it is to be noted here that the company currently caters to 3 lakh villages with products including smart phones, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, cookware, fashion and accessories.