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naaptol.com say hello to a good buy

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Research and comparison based shopping portal Naaptol.com has taken staggering strides. What gives it the edge? Sharmila as reports.

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Manu Agarwal, Founder, Naaptol.com

A catchy name. A fast-catching idea. Naaptol sure has taken measured steps to success. Its 39-year-old owner, Manu Agarwal, wants to make it the Google of Indian retail. The thought is big. But then, so is the grit.

What is Naaptol
Naaptol (www.naaptol.com/) is a web based business where consumers can research different products and make purchases online.

It is the only platform where a customer can research about 2500 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) categorically and can buy 3000 products online,” says Manu Agarwal.

Naaptol launched in Januaray 2008. And by June 2009, it had grown from zero to 6000 customers a day. Today, Naaptol gets an impressive `1.5 crore worth of transactions a day.

How It Works
Naaptol does not sell directly. It initiates selling. The complete process includes order placement on website or on phone. Suppliers keep the goods ready for dispatch to logistics partners. These logistics partners then deliver the goods to customers.

What Makes it Unique?
Agarwal believes Naaptol has revolutionised the way online shopping used to be done. The portal’s logistics partners are carefully chosen to cover over 23,000 pin codes, giving it the widest reach in the country. The complete process includes order placement (on website or on phone), suppliers keeping the goods ready for dispatch to logistics partners, and  delivering the goods to customers in a completely automated way. This enables Naaptol to scale very quickly. Excellent services make up for touch and feel.

“We ensure that the technology is at its peak in terms of user maturity, i.e., an amateur and a frequent user would take the same amount of time to shop on Naaptol,” says Agarwal. “The last mile fulfillment ability, unlike other home shopping players, is being done by the largest logistics brands of the country. So, we offer the guarantee of the best treatment to the sale process, ensuring quality and timely delivery.”

How It Stays Ahead
To beat its competitors, Naaptol exploits multiple media platforms like print, television, internet and direct marketing. It has a strong hold across different media tools. In print alone, Naaptol covers a few major dailies and 50 other publications, while broadcasting involves collaboration with 10 leading TV channels. Naaptol has strong partnerships with brands like Blackberry, Reebok, Anjali, Jaipan, etc. But at its core, it’s simply the idea that powers the portal. As Agarwal likes to put it, “We’ve made a good deal, that’s why our reputation has grown.”

The Challenge
The initial challenge was low monetisation of the business. The revenue was not coming in. To overcome the challenge, Agarwal initiated Naaptol ‘Hot Deals’ that showcases easily available and affordable products at best buying rates. The strategy helped Naaptol beat the initial challenge.

Biggest Lesson Learned
NEVER GIVE UP. If you don’t
give up too early, you will never fail.

Naaptol: Nuts & Bolts
Tagline : Shop Right. Shop More.
Pitch: “India’s leading comparison based social shopping portal, the one-stop destination for all shoppers, merchants and market enthusiasts”
Funding: Rs 1 crore, personal savings plus family support
Turnover: Rs 540 crore
Team Strength: 1000 employees
Daily Traffic: 70,000 visits a day
Transactions: Rs 1.5 crore daily

The Man
Manu Agarwal was doing pretty well in the US, where he worked as Project Manager with WSI. But he wanted more. “USA is for the mediocre, while India boasts a huge potential to explore entrepreneurship,” he says. He is a Bachelor in Engineering from IIT-Kanpur and Masters in computers and electrical engineering from University of Minnesota. Though he does not belong to a business family, he always wanted to do something of his own. Agarwal says “When I was in the US, I wanted to start something innovative. Businessmen and entrepreneurs seemed to be a lot different to me. At that point of time a business man was the one earning big money and purchasing land pieces. However I always aspired to become an Entrepreneur, who is a typical professional, works on the platform created by him only. This urged me to start something on my own.” This thought propelled him back to India in 1998, and he straightaway launched into business.

6 Tools That Give Naaptol the Edge
•    Strong technology
•    Complete IPR ownership
•    Well-networked call centers
•    Powerful logistics services
•    Customised offers
•    Efficient delivery & customer support services

Agarwal’s ventures at a glance:
•    1998: ‘Design Expo’, acquired in 2001 by SLM Soft.
•    1999: Shubhyatra, a travel company, later acquired by Thomas Cook
•    2003: ANM Soft, a bootstrap company that provides solutions in Banking, eMedia, eRetail, and eTravel. Agarwal now mentors its management team.
•    The ANM Soft experience gave Agarwal the opportunity to see the growing potential of Indian retail industry. That’s when he decided to create a platform where consumers would get products in the most convenient way.

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