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CityMall: Taking community commerce digital

This startup is tapping the power of community members in underserved areas to enable hyperlocal commerce

Angad Kikla, co-founder and CEO, CityMall
Angad Kikla, co-founder and CEO, CityMall

By Srinath Srinivasan

Consumers in the smaller towns and villages of India are still underserved despite the rise in e-commerce platforms. CityMall procures products from local and popular brands. By making local leaders the interface between it and the customers, using their social capital in their areas, CityMall aims to market the brands and enable last-mile delivery of the products amongst the community. “These people are usually well-known in their communities and act as resellers of our products. We help them augment their household income by 40% at the moment. We make a small commission from the sales and charge these sellers for ads they want to upload on our platform to boost their visibility,” says Angad Kikla, co-founder and CEO, CityMall.

The startup has raised $40 million and operates in over 20 districts across different states. “We are essentially trying to match the collective demand and the supply. Large platforms with over hundreds of millions of users do not cater to these communities in their local languages as well as their low to mid level spending capacities,” says Kikla. The platform however has not started monetising the data it collects via analytics on both consumer and supply sides. On top of catering to local demand, it is trying to build an active community and create awareness. “We are trying to create entrepreneurs. The most active person in an area encourages others to take up active reselling in and around them. The community is around 10,000-strong currently,” says Kikla.

Catering to low to mid level sub urban and rural communities has also helped give visibility to brands which are otherwise unknown. These brands also price the product according to the segment while developing the small industry ecosystem in and around them. “Many of us in urban areas would have never heard of some of these brands. They are hyperlocal and know the pulse of the community. They also know to cater to the price sensitive rural population,” says Kikla.

According to him, the platform is growing 35% month-on-month. Providing the same level of customer experience as the platform grows and finding the right talent amidst the talent crunch that followed the Covid-19 pandemic are two major challenges it has to overcome. “There is an entire war on talent going on right now. Hiring engineering and product teams is a big challenge currently. We are not taking this situation lightly,” says Kikla.

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