Recently, we interacted with Ruby Jain, Founder of Vyaparify – a seamless revolutionary portal empowering local businesses to attain discoverability with a holistic digital approach. A simple solution that empowers millions of MSMEs in India to bring their physical shops into the digital world and create their own digital identity and grow commerce from local to virtual.
Here are the interview highlights:
Why did you decide to start Vyaparify? What is the problem you’re aiming to address?
While there are many large players focusing on both digital & commerce needs of vyaparis, a simple holistic platform is still a gap – something that I witnessed first-hand both as Business Head for HDFC Bank merchant business, and in my own family businesses, coming from a business background myself. “Why should the stores we grew up with – our favourite sweet shops, our Lala ki Dukaan where we run for all nic-nacs household needs, our designer or the local gift-store be left behind just because they are unable to demystify this new digital era? ”
Many vyaparis around India have been hesitant to enter the digital space, either due to lack of money, lack of knowledge, digital distrust, or not knowing where to start. This lack of knowing the good first step or the resistance is so large that they are even letting go of the opportunity to secure their legacy in the new normal of a digital era. With a growing community of more than 800 million consumers online and less than 5% of 65 million businesses online, showcasing our local stores online and making them discoverable to the consumers is becoming the need of the hour.
This discoverability will help in overall business growth as even business partnerships will flourish. In the professional world we have LinkedIn for connecting with other like minded professionals, knowledge sharing, recruitments and organization building – why is there not such a parallel in the business world where vyaparis can discover each other and do trade with each other?
How is Vyaparify empowering local MSMEs?
Most MSMEs tend to resist looking beyond their territory. Online business is not just about having a website but has an entire process of re-engineering – e.g. taking orders, checking mails, tracking orders to delivery, logistics, inventory management, returns etc. None of this is the need or habit of a regular physical shop – the management process and the skills are both different. This contrast is what creates fear in the mind of the offline vyaparis as they dread tech and computers – which doesn’t come naturally to them. They excel in their business but the online world also demands their excellence in understanding the know-how of websites, SEO, tech etc. Vyaparify aims to bridge this gap and through a simple non-tech platform interface, enables vyaparis to make their digital identity, makes it live almost instantly and builds its discoverability through integrated SEO feature in the platform. It ensures that the local store is discoverable online and customers can connect with the vyapari and do conversational commerce, something which traditional Bharat Vyaparis are used to.
Vyaparify aims to build an ecosystem of empowered vyaparis who can showcase their businesses online, establish their own strong brand and interact with their potential customers without the need for intermediaries. We have currently empowered more than 1400+ vyaparis since March and are looking towards helping more that 1,00,000 vyaparis by next year.
How is it different from other platforms helping businesses go online?
I have observed that, most companies work towards helping MSMEs usually target specific problem areas like payment, inventory management, credit, HR management etc. While each of these are very important, it is almost like going to a neuro-specialist everytime one has a headache. As a first step we always go to a general physician – similarly an offline business wanting to go online needs a little of everything – website – maybe a smaller and simpler version; SEO – maybe a hyperlocal one; the ability to directly interact with their customers, ability to collect payments, get more leads – to name a few. While there are many great platforms helping vyaparis, each is a specialist, solving a niche problem, we look towards this gap as business generalists, who look towards solving multiple untouched niches that are yet to be approached. Vyaparify is the ‘pehla kadam’ we have designed for the offline businesses to get into the online world.
At Vyaparify, we handhold them to not only enter the digital space, but make sure to keep their business running online through website creation, SEO building, setting up QR codes etc. We handhold these MSMEs in every step of running their business online, from setting it up to even promoting them on digital media. This is an aspect of MSMEs that hasn’t been touched upon in the past decades.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in this process?
One of the main challenges I have faced during this process is convincing vyaparis that digital/ online is the need of the hour, that it is not a luxury anymore, that the new ‘word of mouth’ is google now. Most vyaparis tend to steer away from going online as they are scared of tech – ‘computer nahi aata’ or ‘I don’t want to keep a staff managing online as I don’t understand’. Many are still in denial, they believe that if they have an account on Facebook/Instagram or a seller on a marketplace, they are online. Digital and online is a very ambiguous and generalized word and the power of this new era has not yet been de-mystified to the businesses . They are willing to run the risk of their ‘legacy’ dying under the myth that their customers will always find them and walk into their stores. This education and awareness and making our offering more & more in-line with their current state is one of the biggest execution pillars at Vyaparify.
What are Vyaparify’s future plans for expansion?
We plan to expand our user-base in Bharat by onboarding as many vyaparis in tier 2 & 3 cities. We are live only with our first module– we are soon to launch our services of social media for these vyaparis through our next module Socify- which uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to curate personalized content according to the vyaparis niche, this helps MSMEs become discoverable consistently through their posts on social media, increasing their overall traction and growing their customer base. Closely monitoring the incremental businesses we are creating for the vyaparis through the customer leads we are giving, we are also going to power the payments, logistics and customer loyalty on our platform. We continue to move at a fast pace through new modules and partnerships. Vyaparify looks forward to taking Bharat to India to Global, leading a universe of MSMEs to a digitally renowned future.