Near.Store, a plug-and-play ecommerce platform for offline stores, raised $300,000 (about Rs 2.15 crore) in a seed funding round from private investment firm Sauce.vc.
Undisclosed angel investors participated in the round.
The fresh capital will be deployed towards product development, team augmentation and geographic expansion, the Mumbai headquartered company said in a statement.
Founded in September 2018 by three serial entrepreneurs, former location marketing company Spiral9 founder Ashish Kumar, former Mindtree executive Ramakrishnan A and former investment banker Diwakar Mitra, Near.Store enables offline shops to create online presence and make their products easily discoverable online. This is done through its proprietary dongle, which can be inserted into a store’s existing barcode scanner or billing system. The ability to be discovered by customers in a geographical proximity helps shops increase their sales and the convenience of online ordering helps them get customer loyalty.
The company is currently running pilot programmes in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
“Most traditional stores on average maintain 5,000-10,000 stock keeping units (SKUs). For many stores that have attempted to go online, the first step of uploading the SKUs is often daunting and acts as a deterrent. Additional requirements, such as the need to have a continuous online promotion (and) maintaining a separate payment system, is equally challenging. We simplify the process by introducing the dongle, which plugs itself into the existing system,” Ashish Kumar, co-founder of Near.Store, said.
The company aims to expand its presence to over 10 cities in the next six months.
Coinciding the fundraising, former marketing head of Coca Cola India Shripad Nadkarni joined the company as a senior advisor, the statement said.
The company competes with Dunzo and MagicPin in the hyperlocal segment.
“Kirana stores are the mainstay of India’s consumer packaged goods landscape and getting them digital ready in a zero-effort manner holds great potential for the entire retail ecosystem,” Manu Chandra, founder, Sauce.vc, said.
Founded in 2019, Sauce.vc provides early-stage and seed funding to companies working in food and beverage, personal care and lifestyle sectors. The company has invested in Surat-based XYXX Apparels, which runs an eponymous innerwear brand; Bengaluru-based Merhaki Foods and Nutrition, which manufactures nutrition products under the &Me brand; and Haryana-based Onesto Labs, which manufactures and supplies personal care products under the Bare Anatomy brand.