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These Ecommerce Startups From 9Unicorns’ DDay Cohort 3 Are Pushing Growth Via Omnichannel


‘Phygital’ shopping is projected to reach $55 Bn by 2027 from the current $11 Bn

These ecommerce/D2C brands are among the 20 early stage startups to present their businesses to 1.5K Indian and global VCs at 9Unicorns and Venture Catalysts’ pitching event on April 18, 2023

B2B ecommerce platform TyrePlex, D2C handicraft startup Rare Planet, smartphone recommerce firm Badili and puja essentials specialist Om Bhakti have synergised online and offline models for optimum growth

The widespread use of smartphones and the internet is no longer limited to big cities. Their proliferation has empowered traditional shoppers from Tier 2 cities and beyond to shop online, thus fuelling the growth of ecommerce adoption in India. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards safe and hassle-free e-shopping. 

With the Covid waves gradually waning in the past year or so, retail has returned to its offline format to a large extent. But the consumer pivot towards digital and devices is far from over. If anything, the exponential rise of digital literacy enables new-age shoppers to look for a seamless online-offline experience. 

Unsurprisingly, brands today must rise to the occasion and integrate digital and analogue channels for a superior customer experience. Nothing short of an omnichannel business strategy can ensure sustainable growth.

In simple terms, the future of retail is ‘phygital’.

Globally, Amazon has experimented with tech-powered offline stores. Closer home, the likes of BigBasket and Tata CLiQ are moving away from their online-only approach. Even direct-to-customers (D2C) beauty brands like Sugar and Mamaearth have realised that India’s phygital shopping is projected to grow from its current valuation of $11 Bn to $55  Bn in 2027.   

The five ecommerce startups to be hosted by Mumbai-based 9Unicorns and Venture Catalysts at the third edition of their startup pitch event are not immune to this trend. Although they specialise in diverse digital commerce activities, from B2B ecommerce to D2C brands, recommerce, O2O commerce and more, the single theme that has emerged here is a holistic integration of online and offline business models to optimise growth. Their innovative approach is bound to impress when they pitch their businesses to 1.5K Indian and global investors on April 18, 2023 during the third edition of DDay. 

DDay is a startup pitching event organised by VC accelerator fund 9Unicorns and ‘India’s first and largest integrated incubator’ Venture Catalysts that will see participation from a cohort of 20 startups to raise funding from investors. 

Register For The Third Edition Of DDay

Here are the ecommerce startups that will pitch for funding at the DDay (Demo Day) event, to be held virtually.  


These Ecommerce Startups From 9Unicorns’ DemoDay Cohort 3 Are Pushing Growth Via Omnichannel

The Indian tyre market is projected to grow from 188.9 Mn units in 2022 to 225.6 Mn units by 2028, a recent IMARC report says. However, the traditional aftermarket (tyre replacement market) needs a massive digital push to grow bigger and better in a technology-driven post-pandemic economy.       

Aware of this ground reality, Puneet Bhaskar, formerly a top executive at Droom Technology, teamed up with Rupendra Pratap Singh (a former OYO executive), Nikhil Kalra (former tech head of CarDekho) and entrepreneur Jiveshwar Sharma to launch TyrePlex, a B2B ecommerce, enabling tyre dealers to source all tyre brands, which are then delivered to their stores/establishments.

The platform currently operates in New Delhi, Gurugram, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Navi Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. It also claims that its GMV and revenue grew by 800% and 300%, respectively, in FY22 compared to the previous financial year.    

The startup has also developed a proprietary dealer management system (DMS) to help tyre dealers manage all essential operations such as procurement, order fulfilment, inventory management and building online stores. Some of the key brands that can be found on the website are MRF, CEAT, Goodyear, Apollo, Bridgestone, JK and Michelin Tyres.  

TyrePlex claims to have digitalised the operations of 5K tyre dealers and targets 1 Lakh more in 2023. Additionally, it will upgrade its tech stack to ensure demand prediction, automate reordering and add customer management tools.

Rare Planet

These Ecommerce Startups From 9Unicorns’ DemoDay Cohort 3 Are Pushing Growth Via Omnichannel

Rare Planet, a Kolkata-based D2C brand specialising in artefacts and lifestyle products, boasts a 10K-strong community of local artisans who make handcrafted items from ceramics, terracotta, copper and more.   

The startup was launched by Ranodeep Saha in 2015 (he was a student at the time) to sell kulhars/kulhads (traditional clay cups without handles). But four years later, Saha teamed up with lifestyle retailer Vijay Kumar TR, and the duo expanded the product range to beer mugs, bowls and glasses, kettles, stationery and home decor items. It also adopted the omnichannel strategy due to the low revenues generated from online sales.

Its products are now sold through 75+ offline and online stores like WH Smith, Crossword bookstores, including  35+ outlets across major Indian airports. It aims to reach 100 stores in 2023 and partner with more artisans.

Apart from generating employment opportunities for the underprivileged local artisans, Rare Planet claims it has boosted their earnings by 130-150%. It has also tied up with NBFCs to offer microloans to artisans, enabling them to purchase necessary equipment and supplies.


These Ecommerce Startups From 9Unicorns’ DemoDay Cohort 3 Are Pushing Growth Via Omnichannel

When one of his Kenyan employees was arrested for purchasing a stolen phone a few years ago, entrepreneur Rishabh Lawania realised that the country lacked a reliable recommerce market. To ensure that people have hassle-free access to affordable pre-owned smartphones, Lawania launched an online recommerce marketplace called Badili, where used devices cost 50% less than the new ones.

Starting a new venture in the African continent was not difficult for Lawania as he had been running a business there since 2018, in addition to his companies in India, China and Japan.

Badili only deals in models launched after 2018 and uses an AI-powered system to evaluate how well a phone is working to determine its price. It claims that the entire process of selling a phone and receiving payment takes a mere 20 minutes. Once the sale is complete, a delivery executive arrives at the designated address to pick up the phone.

After Badili buys a smartphone, it is refurbished and repackaged to be sold at half the price. According to its website, pre-owned phones undergo 32 quality checks before they are listed for sale. The platform also provides a 12-month warranty on each device.

It has also adopted an omnichannel strategy and collaborates with brick-and-mortar mobile retailers to sell refurbished smartphones and provide repair services, thus widening its market reach.

The startup claims it is the first smartphone recommerce platform in Africa. However, it plans to expand to West Africa and make smartphones affordable for all Africans across the continent.

Om Bhakti

These Ecommerce Startups From 9Unicorns’ DemoDay Cohort 3 Are Pushing Growth Via Omnichannel

The religious and spiritual market in India is estimated to reach $97.2 Bn by 2028, according to a recent IMARC report. But Bengaluru-based Om Bhakti literally had a headstart in this space as it was launched a decade ago.

Keen to tap into this growing market, former Deloitte consultant Sridhar Joshi and distribution expert Prashant Kulkarni started the D2C platform for puja essentials in 2012. The startup makes high-quality cotton wicks used in diyas/candles and also sells oil, camphor, vermillion, turmeric powder, puja utensils and more.

To create high-quality cotton wicks, Om Bhakti works closely with farmers and cotton institutes for R&D. It also offers a monthly subscription service and provides a ready-to-use box of puja essentials to reduce the time for puja preparation.

The startup has embraced an omnichannel strategy for deeper reach. Besides selling on online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart and quick commerce platforms like BlinkIt and Swiggy Instamart, Om Bhakti products are also available across brick-and-mortar retail outlets and kirana stores pan-India.

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