Pumped up by its potential

Tomojit Basu | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on May 22, 2015


KS Bhatia, CEO,

An e-commerce start-up sells pumps of all sizes to villagers, clocking high sales

The Flipkarts and Amazons have tapped into urban Indian middle class consciousness and their seeming success has spurred various reports that estimate that the e-commerce sector in India could be worth as much as $300 billion by 2030. It isn’t surprising then that rural online marketing holds significant potential and, a Chandigarh-based venture founded by KS Bhatia, a 45-year-old chemical engineer, is one such start-up gaining traction among rural consumers by creating a one-stop shop for agricultural, commercial and residential pumps.

“I had been in the water business since 1998 after having worked in the corporate world for 5-6 years. The idea to shift online was actually my son’s and he bought me a domain to get started two birthdays ago. So the credit must go to him,” quipped Bhatia, CEO,, who spent the year studying similar online seller models in the US and UK. After going live around nine months ago, Pumpkart now sells 50 pumps a day across the country with the largest sales being clocked in states such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Rural focus

Various kinds of pumps make up the company's portfolio including booster, sprinkler, borewell and irrigation pumps. Currently, pumps used for agricultural purposes account for 40 per cent of sales. “We cater to consumers across rural India and it’s grown steadily not just in terms of sales but also bringing suppliers and distributors on board. This is mainly because pumps are the second-highest capital item in rural markets after tractors,” Bhatia explained.

The size of the market for pumps in rural areas is estimated at ₹7,500 crore, with the unorganised sector accounting for ₹4,500 crore. There are more than 5,000 pump manufacturers and 300 brands in the country, Bhatia estimated. But consumers were aware of only 5 or 10 big names.

Pumpkart hosts 250 vendors and 200 manufacturers. With an average ‘ticket size’ of ₹7,000, the venture transacts business worth ₹3.5 lakh per day. That’s not bad for an establishment that sold 17 pumps in its first month.

The model is similar to Snapdeal’s whereby a buyer places the order and Pumpkart’s courier delivers the product. The payment is collected from distributors or retailers and the venture, which has 22 employees at present, takes 5-10 per cent of the margin. “Business is being generated since there’s a demand; 70 per cent of payments is cash on delivery. The main problem is logistics. I lose between 10 and 15 orders each day because of it and we have approached more couriers now to smoothen movement. The availability of skilled technicians and plumbers in rural areas is another problem,” informed Bhatia. To overcome the issue of poor skilled labour, the creation of a new marketplace tied to Pumpkart is in the offing and will bring technicians, plumbers and engineers together. The entrepreneur has written to the Centre a month ago to help the platform tie up with India Post for a seamless delivery process.

Published on May 22, 2015
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