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Express Stores: How This Startup Is Disrupting Hyperlocal Kirana Space
Express Stores, a Gurugram-based startup founded in 2019, is an omni-channel chain of Kirana stores that provide retailers with a 360-degree solution that helps them deliver high value to consumers. “For consumers, our partner stores are the first brand name stores in their neighborhood to instill the trust they're looking for,” said Apoorv Jain, co-founder and CEO of Express Stores.
“For retailers, the company offers hassle-free retail. This is made possible by the company's suite of technology solutions, which have given retailers a tremendous amount of physical and mental bandwidth. Our solutions include, among other things, technology-leading inventory management and supply, omnichannel front end for consumers, digital payments and better savings, ”he says.
Express Stores is a team of young, experienced and busy teams of passionate leaders aiming for a challenging but daunting opportunity in India. Jain, a graduate of IIT Delhi, has built and scaled startups including his first startup, Rocket Internet's Yes (Lazada) office, and most recently Urban Company. The other co-founder, Kartik Gupta (COO at Express Stores), is a graduate of BITS Pilani and has built and scaled startups including his first startup, Jabong, Wadi by Rocket Internet and most recently Flyrobe.
With the aim of empowering local kirana businesses, the Express Stores franchise model leverages the technology in both the back-end of the supply chain, inventory management, partner management, intelligence, and the front-end of technology for consumers and partners. It uses the aggregation of the supply in the back-end to ensure the distribution of the supply to its branches.
Express Stores claims to have achieved product market adaptation and is building a scalable, technology-driven and premium margin positive business. “We have several partner stores in Gurugram and Delhi. We want to strengthen our presence in Delhi / NCR in the next 1-2 years and at the same time strengthen our technical systems to scale, ”says Jain.
Express Stores recently raised 8 crore of seed funding. The round was led by venture capital firm Venture Highway (founded by Neeraj Arora, ex-WhatsApp and Samir Sood, ex-Google) with the participation of individual investors such as Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal), Anupam Mittal (People Group) and Amit Singhal (Google) among others. The funds would be used for product market adaptation, initial growth, talent development, supply chain, and technology.
According to Jain, food is an overwhelmingly large market and the most important thing is to clearly see the positive economics of the units and to scale them up quickly. There will be multiple formats and many companies that will be building large grocery stores, and upgrading Kiranas, a segment that remains largely disorganized, is a huge untapped niche. Consumers need a modern shopping experience in their neighborhood, while retailers need hassle-free and profitable business operations.
According to Jain, the future holds great omnichannel shopping experiences for the neighborhood consumers and hassle-free retail for kiranas. "Express Stores aims to drive this change and wants to be the most preferred and first-class everyday store in the neighborhood," he sums up.
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