CityMall, the social e-commerce venture focussed on tier-4 and -5 towns and rural regions, plans to expand its presence to nearly 75 districts in the next 18 months. The community-buying platform will also scale up the base of community leaders while expanding the category portfolio to fashion and appliances.

The start-up raised $22.5 million in June in Series B funding round led by General Catalyst and Jungle Ventures along with existing investors.

The social e-commerce venture currently services customers in about 15 districts through its network of community leaders that help generate demand and fulfil last-mile deliveries.

Angad Kikla, Co-founder and CEO, CityMall said that the company’s “differentiated” community buying model helps manage the two key cost elements of marketing and logistics.

“The model helps make e-commerce experience friendlier and viable in rural and small towns, where consumers are usually first-time online shoppers. Community leaders are people with some amount of social capital and have the ability to make last mile deliveries. They focus on customer acquisition either through Whatsapp or by going door-to-door, providing offline sales support, do last mile deliveries and sometimes also provide credit to consumers,” he added.

Competitive pricing

“Our proposition is to offer supermarket prices which are cheaper than the traditional offline stores and a wider assortment to these consumers. Even as the order ticket size may be lower, their frequency of shopping is high,” he added.

The community-buying platform currently has about 25,000 monthly active community leaders and it plans to grow this base by 10-15 times in the next 15-18 months. Nearly 40-50 per cent of the transactions are done by rural consumers and the two-year old platform has been witnessing strong growth with sales growing at about 35 per cent month on month..

Kikla said that 70 per cent of the traffic on the end-consumer app originates through the community leaders who share links with consumers through messaging apps or offer support in placing orders.

CityMall is now looking to expand its reach to across 75 districts in the country in the next 18 months and it is also doubling down on addition of non-essential categories to its portfolio. “We have been witnessing a spike in demand for non-essentials especially during the festival and wedding season. Hence, our strategy is to increase the depth and width of assortment available in categories such as fashion and shoes, electronics and accessories, appliances and home and kitchen-related products,” he added. The platform is also experimenting with offering services through its platform.