LoveLocal Enables Kiranawalas To Continue Selling Online Through Lockdowns

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By Akanksha Hazari, CEO & Founder, LoveLocal

Pune, 13th July 2021:Local retailers have always been the backbone of the Indian economy, accounting for some 40% of the country’s employment. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, these retailers remained on the front lines throughout even as bigger stores were forced to shut down. As consumers became more conscious of maintaining social distancing to avoid infection, there was a shift in buying behaviour towards digital platforms. LoveLocal empowered kiranawalas to respond to this shift by giving them an online presence through the LoveLocal platform, thus enabling them to enjoy the benefits of online selling while retaining the trust and relationships they enjoyed with their neighbourhood customers.

LoveLocal launched its platform in January 2020, just before the pandemic began, and has grown 20x since then, serving 35 cities across 1100+ pincodes in India. The platform has registered over 60,000 retailers and 3 lac+ customers.

The statistics in Pune so far have been staggering. Since the pandemic began, LoveLocal has onboarded over 10300 stores in Pune, with over 5500 added during the second wave alone. The majority of the stores that have been onboarded are in Hinjewdi, Aundh, Chinchwad and Baner. Retailers have fulfilled over 71000 orders through the platform so far, and over 42000 during the second wave alone. The basket size reached a peak of 2500 during the second wave, with grains, pulses and oil being the most popular product categories sold. Customers too have been forthcoming to place orders through the LoveLocal platform, with 27000 customers in Pune to date and over 14000 during the second wave. Overall, the platform has sold over 55000 products across 145 categories, making LoveLocal India’s largest online daily needs products platform.

In the last five years, India has seen this shift towards digital. During the demonitization, retailers started accepting orders via whatsapp, and digital payments became more prevalent in the metros & tier 1 cities. This digital wave was turbocharged by the pandemic, as the year 2020 saw an 8x increase in online searches for ‘shops near me’, a 60% increase in searches for home delivery, and a 60% increase in searches for ‘how to pay online’. In fact, this digital adoption was also seen in rural India, as for the first time ever, the number of rural internet users in India surpassed urban internet users by 10% to reach 227 million. It was essential, therefore, for local retailers to respond to it by going online.

LoveLocal follows an integrated offline-to-online model. The onboarding process is highly intuitive, and they also provide a dedicated shop representative to help the retailer through it. Throughout the lockdown, the Lovelocal team proactively handed e-commerce certificates to local retailers, so that they could continue selling online with home delivery orders. LoveLocal owns and manages the entire shop experience for retailers, from storefront management to end-to-end consumer experience, as well as customer service support.

Additionally, we also help our retailers by heavily marketing and promoting them on our consumer apps. Retailers can create their online store for free in less than 5 minutes, without having to pay any margins or commission on transaction fee. These retailers can also use third- party logistics if they so desire. The app’s analytics feature gives retailers a detailed understanding of the products sold, searched for, orders placed, coupons used, and more. LoveLocal is completely transparent and will never compete with our retail partners.

Finally, customers benefit from retailers by receiving free and quick delivery of all essential items. LoveLocal also guarantees the quality and freshness of products sourced from trusted local shops that have been KYC verified and have passed Quality Control checks, as well as offers, flash sales, coupons, and deals. The app is user-friendly and includes features such as repeat orders, top picks for customers, best rated shops in their area, top savings and offers in their area, and so on, personalising the entire shopping experience process. It also enables customers to place orders from multiple neighbourhood stores using a single checkout, and they can choose between in-store pickup and home delivery.

About the Author

Akansha Hazari is the CEO and sole woman Founder of LoveLocal. At age 21, she was on the founding team of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, the world’s first policy think tank for young people. Her many accomplishments include leading a $200m loan guarantee facility to support Palestinian-owned SMEs, working on clean technology business strategy at Booz & Co, leading a Pan-India agritech project at Technoserve over the course of which she spent a year living in villages across India. In 2011, she won the million-dollar Hult Prize from former US President Bill Clinton for her unique idea to scale access to clean water in rural Indian communities – the business idea that would subsequently become m.Paani. She also received the Vital Voices Global Economic Empowerment Award 2016 from Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine Albright. A graduate of Princeton and Cambridge and an Ashoka Fellow, Akanksha speaks six languages and is a former competitive squash player ranked among the top 20 junior players internationally.