We go to the market, pick out the fruits, pay an abominably high price for each fruit and happily carry the fruit bags home. But have you ever wondered where these fruits come from and how they got there?
In fact, the journey of these fruits is a cumbersome involving multiple procedures. Your fruit retailer goes to the wholesale market which might not even be in the same city, fishes out the best fruits he can find, bargains for prices and manages logistics to bring them to his store. He does this by himself and twice a week. Some of them even do it every day.
Did this just instill a new found respect for your fruit retailer? It did in us. SaralMarket decided to step in and make a change in this tiresome process.
Deepam Prithyani, the founder of SaralMarket says, “We scan the complete wholesale fruit market of Mumbai early morning, everyday, and share photos of the fruits with their pricing and packaging details with the customers. They then place their orders over the phone. We purchase on behalf of all those customers ensuring expert picking, pack it, and ship it to them. No inventory is stocked. Talking about the technology that we use to interact with the customers, we use WhatsApp as the front-end, and thus we have not invested time in building it in-house for now.”
They aim to ease the process of fruit procurement for the retailers by using technology. They have started of with fruits but plan to scale to other industries.
While talking about his motivation to start SaralMarket, Deepam recalls, “I am a Sindhi and was born and brought up in a small city called Gondia. Many of my relatives and family friends are businessmen in unorganized business domains. I have been seeing them travelling to wholesale markets for making purchases for years, and have always wondered whether why they cannot select and order stock as easily as a television retailer? This was the genesis of SaralMarket.”
Deepam has a background in IT and has previously worked as a Software Engineer for Accenture. Currently, SaralMarket is operating in 8 cities and plans to expand to more.
Regarding its USP and competition, Deepam adds, “We cover all varieties of imported fruits, except apples, and some local fruits which are not available everywhere and are well packed. This has helped us acquire a healthy customer base in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. In fact, our highest selling fruit is Mangosteen from Thailand, which is one of the most famous exotic fruits in the world, but not easily available everywhere in India. We compete with wholesalers nearest to our customers.”
The supply and demand of fruits has increased with a high demand for exotic fruits from each region. For example, the Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri or the litchi from Bengal or even the Dragon Fruit from Vietnam. Where SaralMarket plays a key role is in developing the supply chain and packaging system.
Another important aspect to look at is the presence of a large number of middlemen in the supply chain increases the cost. Ultimately, the end consumer has to bear the cost of additional middlemen, additional logistics, and damage in transit. If a farmer sells a Watermelon for less than ten rupees, the consumer ends up paying forty rupees.
Deepam believes that this whole system can be made efficient by using technology. Data driven demand predictions, scientific grading of fruits and predicting their shelf life, research on better storage mechanisms, superior order fulfilment mechanisms, and minimizing middlemen are the way forward.
Deepam adds, “The more we scale, the more we can go backwards in the chain, and offer retailers fresher stock at better prices. We have already done this in the exotic fruits category, where we have built relationships with importers. Today, nobody can provide fruit retailers the best quality Mangosteen at a better price than us, anywhere in India. Also, we will soon begin technology development for the front end, based on the data points we have been collecting, in order to cater to such a dynamic marketplace.”
Check out their website here