Lakadji Janata Pasand Tea, Pawan Poha, Apnapan Detergent Powder, Kanha Toast, Roopsungadh Soaps, Lotus Ghee may not be household brand names — at least yet — in their respective categories where products from giant corporations rule. However, if Dealshare — a Bengaluru headquartered social commerce Unicorn — has its way, these brands manufactured by lesser-known companies that offer compelling ‘value’ will enable it to challenge the might of the more established e-commerce platforms.
Started in 2018, Dealshare is helping over a thousand local and regional brands to market and sell their products nationally, with the help of a network of small entrepreneurs (Dealshare Dosts) and an engaging mobile app. The ‘social commerce’ company truly leverages social networks, both physical and online, to sell its wares. If the results are any indication, it seems to be paying off. For the year ended March 2022, Dealshare had a revenue run rate of more than a billion dollars (at the then exchange rates of around ₹7,600 crore).
Some of the small brands that have benefited from Dealshare’s model include Rajsugandham, Shree Ram Industries, Maharaja, Goyal Enterprises (Smartwife Atta), Shree Ganesh Dry Fruits and Maya Agrovet. These suppliers are said to have seen a growth ranging from 15 per cent to 40 per cent in their business, after partnering with Dealshare. Typically Dealshare sources from those who have spare capacity in manufacturing.
“We majorly source products directly from the quality manufacturers whose brands have not been able to become popular because they don’t know how to sell or market their product. These manufacturers pass on their products to Dealshare at prices closer to their cost price and in turn, manufacturers make a little more money than what they were making earlier because of economies of scale,” explains Dealshare Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Sourjyendu Medda.
Take Unibic, a company that started in 2005 and which produces wire cut cookies. Kartikay Mehta, Director Sales of Unibic says partnering with Dealshare has given it visibility. “Our journey with Dealshare began last year with a vision of delivering wide availability to delight our customers. As an innovator, Unibic is second to none and Dealshare has launched multiple products from our basket which has given us incremental growth in big cities as well as tier 2/3 towns.”
This is a view echoed by Arun Kumar Karani of ShreeRam Papad. He says, “Dealshare has enabled our presence in various markets where our brand had little to zero footprint.”
Almost 70 per cent of Dealshare’s sourcing is from SMEs and only 30 per cent is from top brands. Recently, the company has also started private labels in several categories and plans to invest ₹500 crore in this over the next two-three years. It is getting into Chemko (home cleaning), Swaccha (personal hygiene), Sampoorti (Pantry staples) and X One (Male grooming brands) in its first phase with plans to foray into skin and haircare, beauty and apparel products eventually.
It is not just the sourcing and the brands being sold on the platform which are the key differentiators but also the target customer. Dealshare defines its target group as those in the income bracket of ₹50,000 per month. This is the segment that makes up almost 50 per cent of India’s population as well as 50 per cent of consumption, according to Medda. “This population does not care about brands as much as they care about affordability,” he added.
Dealshare passes on the cost benefits of sourcing directly from manufacturers, to its end consumers. In addition to connecting the small manufacturers to the value-focused customers, it also connects the manufacturers to Kirana shop owners. Value wise around 55 per cent of Dealshare’s business comes from end consumers and 45 per cent is through retailers (Kiranas). In terms of volume, 97 per cent is end consumers and 3 per cent are retailers.
Average order size for end users on Dealshare is around ₹550-600 and for retailers it is ₹15,000. While the average purchase value of Dealshare might be less, Medda said that their target customers are bargain hunters. Therefore, he says, the app has a gamified environment where they can perform tasks, earn incentives which they can use on their next purchases. “They can refer friends and share deals with them,” he added. As a result, he says, Dealshare user sessions are 3-5x of a traditional e-commerce player.
At present, Dealshare is present in 160 cities across eight states. The company has achieved this scale on the back of its distribution model powered by a network of entrepreneurs called Dealshare Dosts. For regions with less than 5 lakh population, Dealshare Dosts do the warehousing and last-mile delivery for the company too. In bigger cities, warehousing is managed by Dealshare and last-mile deliveries are done by Dealshare Dosts.
Dealshare Dosts are generally people who have either done distribution or some logistics play in the past, have some capital to deploy into their business and can manage teams of around 20 to 30 people. Average net earnings of a Dealshare Dost is around ₹1 lakh per month. The Dosts are paid using a pay-per-performance model.
Dealshare competes with players like Udaan, Flipkart Shopsy and D-Mart Ready in this space. Asked how Dealshare differentiates itself, Medda says, “D-Mart Ready is only focused on locations where the company has a physical retail outlet, because its retail stores are serving as warehouses. They have some volumes in bigger cities that has been created over the years and that is why their scale is more. But their penetration and reach is much lower.”
Whether its strategy of focussing mostly on tier 2 and tier 3, underserved cities, courting ‘value’ chasing customers with lesser-known brands, will pay off, remains to be seen.