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‘Cubs Vs. Lions’: How Shipyaari Has Given The Roar To Smaller D2C Brands With Its Logistics Tech Stack

SUMMARY

Launched in 2013, Mumbai-based Shipyaari is a logistics solutions provider, which helps small- and medium-sized brands manage end-to-end logistics

According to Nayan Ratandhayara, cofounder of Shipyaari, even though India, today, cradles more than 50K digital brands, only a handful of these brands have been able to grow at a break-neck speed, leveraging the power of India’s logistics network.

India is said to become the second-largest ecommerce market by 2034, while the warehousing market, one of its important enablers, is set to reach $34.99 Bn by 2027.

Little did the two young aspiring Chartered Accountants (CAs), Nayan Ratandhayara and Vishal Totla, realise back in 2012 that one day they would emerge as dynamic entrepreneurs within the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, dedicated to tackling a myriad of challenges faced by small and medium enterprises.

After becoming professional CAs in 2011, the duo, Ratandhayara and Totla, embarked on their professional journeys in separate companies. However, it didn’t take them long to recognise their potential to bridge the gaps within the Indian logistics industry, due to which smaller and emerging D2C brands remained the minority beneficiaries of the industry offerings.

Understanding the limitations these companies faced in terms of resources and opportunities to tap into the Indian logistics landscape to propel their businesses to new heights, they decided to take up the challenge. Their vision was clear — to serve this underserved segment of businesses, empowering them to thrive.

According to Ratandhayara, even though India, today, cradles more than 50K digital brands, only a handful of these brands have been able to grow at a break-neck speed, leveraging the power of India’s logistics industry. 

“It is ‘Lions’ versus ‘Cubs’ out there, especially when it comes to the Indian D2C landscape. There are a number of smaller D2C brands (‘cub’ brands as we like to call them) that are underserved by the Indian logistics players, and we aim to give these ‘cubs’ the roar to operate on par with the ‘Lions’ or the cash-rich brands,” Ratandhayara said.

Launched in 2013, Mumbai-based Shipyaari is a logistics solutions provider, which helps small and medium-sized businesses manage logistics operations like transportation, inventory management, real-time order tracking, warehousing, fulfilment and last-mile deliveries pan-India and across borders to 190+ countries, along with courier services. 

On the back of this playbook, to service the underserved, Shipyaari has partnered with 25,000 businesses, including BYJU’S, Portronics, GOQii, cult.fit, Dr Vaidyas, Supertails, Ferns N Petals and Bummer, just to count a few. 

Among its 25-plus carrier partners, some prominent names include Blue Dart Express, Delhivery and Ecom Express. Talking about Shipyaari’s reach and impact, Totla told Inc42 that the startup serves more than 29K pin codes across the country and facilitates an average of 250K monthly shipments. 

According to him, Shipyaari has helped its partner brands witness up to 93% reduction in return to origin (RTO), curbing expenses and improving margins for the merchants.

The startup has two products, Shipyaari Delta and RTO Hubs, which help brands combat RTO challenges across the country. (More on this later).

Shipyaari

 

The Pandemic Push

It was not until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world that the founders understood the perks of becoming fully digital. 

In Shipyaari’s early days, technology wasn’t their primary focus, revealed Totla. It mainly emphasised service and operations, using technology as a tool to support its work. At the start, the startup outsourced its tech needs and tailored the systems to serve small and medium-sized businesses.

But then, Covid-19 struck, directly impacting consumer behaviour, amid the rise of the D2C wave. “Customers needed to be served from the confines of their homes due to the Covid-induced lockdowns, and amid this, D2C brands were sitting on bulks of orders that had to be delivered across the nation,” Totla said. 

This also gave Shipyaari an opportunity to grow and scale by providing tech-driven logistics solutions to D2C brands. 

To stay ahead in the game, the founders began expanding their tech team to stay abreast of the sudden spurt in the Indian D2C industry, with a core focus on providing efficient and quick logistics solutions. 

They hired subject matter experts from domains like product management, IT, sales, marketing and customer support. Within a span of two years, the Shipyaari team grew from 20 members to 100+ employees. The startup, today, has offices across Mumbai, Surat, Gurugram, Aurangabad and Bengaluru.

Between March 2020 and March 2022, Shipyaari helped many D2C brands scale their businesses by partnering with sellers pan-India, delivering across 18,000 pin codes. While speaking about the revenue, Totla disclosed that the startup’s monthly recurring revenue grew over 3.5X during this period.

While briefly talking about Shipyaari’s revenue model, Ratandhayara said, “Shipyaari’s revenue model focusses on transparency and delivering maximum benefits to its clients.” 

Shipyaari operates on a principal-to-principal basis, which means it works directly with its clients, fostering a relationship of equality and direct interaction. He added, “We do not charge commission fees or take a percentage of our clients’ transactions. Instead, we pass on the significant cost savings we achieve through economies of scale.”

Empowering ‘Cub’ Brands

Ratandhayara believes that one of the key reasons that is limiting the growth of ‘cub’ brands is that third-party logistics prefer to cater to the ‘lion’ brands more than the ‘cub’ brands.

Furthermore, he believes that many of these companies, even those from remote areas, will gain significant market share in the future and Shipyaari aims to help these ‘cub’ brands ‘access their aspirations’. “We have always wanted to create a fair business environment where everyone has an equal chance to succeed,” said Ratandhayara.

Seeing this as an opportunity, Shipyaari launched its plug-and-play logistics solution for smaller brands, simplifying the entire logistics process for them through a single dashboard. 

The startup also assigns relationship managers to assist users in efficiently handling logistics. Shipyaari’s solutions also bring transparency to invoicing, saving time and effort, which otherwise would have been spent managing multiple accounts with different providers.

In addition, the startup’s solutions empower brands to seamlessly integrate their systems with the platform, manage bulk and B2B shipping, access warehousing and fulfilment services, and even facilitate international shipping through one dashboard.

Meanwhile, the startup’s tech stack comprises two solutions among others —  Shipyaari Delta and RTO Hubs (both launched in 2023) — to tackle the RTO woes of D2C brands specifically. 

While Shipyaari Delta is an automated WhatsApp chatbot integrated with the D2C brands’ mobile app and websites to engage with customers, RTO hubs are centres that manage reverse logistics, where returned orders from customers are managed. 

These RTO hubs are located strategically near high demand locations and manage reverse logistics. Additionally, these hubs double as fulfilment centres for future orders, which saves SMEs time and cost.

This speeds up the delivery, as the item is already at a convenient location, further reducing the time and cost of going to distant locations.

Both of these solutions have been launched by the startup keeping the challenges of return to origin in mind, often a costly affair for D2C brands.

Shipyaari Delta offers personalised customer experience by sending them automated messages related to orders, which has helped many brands reduce RTO by up to 40% . 

What’s On The Cards?

As of now, Shipyaari is focussed on advancing its tech, Shipyaari Sprint, for same – or next – day deliveries. For this, it is looking forward to collaborating with local courier partners. 

Further, it will open new offices in cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Ludhiana by next year. It is also looking to double its team size from 100+ to 200 by 2025. Totla said that the startup is also open to forging strategic alliances with brands that are in sync with its goals and values.

Ratandhayara said jumping on the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) bandwagon has been a game changer for the startup. “This initiative empowers brands to establish a presence and conduct sales through ONDC, holding the immense potential to democratise India’s digital commerce landscape,” he added.

With government-run initiatives like the ONDC, along with a sustained rise in the D2C wave, India is projected to become the second-largest ecommerce market by 2034 and, one of its enablers, the warehousing market is set to reach $34.99 Bn by 2027.

Amid this, players like Shipyaari are well poised to grow at an unprecedented scale. What will further prove to be the key cog in the growth wheel is their commitment to serve the underserved D2C brands with their tech stack, thereby unclogging logistics bottlenecks for them.


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