The startup is addressing deep inefficiencies in India's rural FMCG distribution system by digitally connecting retailers and wholesalers to provide wider, consistent access to competitively priced goods
Bengaluru-based Apnaklub, a business-to-business (B2B) wholesale platform for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), on Monday announced that it has raised $3.5 million in a Seed round from Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, bringing the total funds raised so far to $5 million.
Apnaklub connects India’s retailers, such as kirana and general stores in semi-urban and rural areas, to a wide range of consumer goods and brands via its network of digitally connected wholesale partners.
“With Apnaklub, we are providing wholesalers across the country with an organized supply infrastructure and digital tools to cater to the hyper-local needs of shopkeepers and large families around them. This funding will enable us to expand across more rural areas in India as well as increase our range of services and products for our partners,” said Manish Kumar, chief operating officer, Apnaklub.
Kirana stores are small neighborhood shops in India that supply essentials for rural communities, such as daily household necessities, snacks, sanitary products, and tobacco. A 2020 report by Accenture estimated that by this year, 13 million kirana shops across India will account for 75 per cent of the total retail industry.
However, kirana owners are often unable to meet a minimum quantity or purchase amount to buy from distributors, who in turn are constrained by the capital needed to deploy goods to these areas. This leaves many of these retailers with a limited assortment of goods to stock in their neighborhood stores. Apnaklub addresses this gap by connecting wholesale agents to provide kirana stores with a wider range of SKUs, no minimum order quantity, and competitive prices. Apnaklub’s network of agent partners helps collect demand from their surrounding kirana stores, aggregate them, and place an order on the app. Apnaklub then delivers the goods to the partner, who then distributes them to the stores, the company shared.
“At Apnaklub, we’re going beyond providing an organized supply of FMCG goods to semi-urban and rural areas. Our mission is to equip people across India with the means to set up their own hyper-local micro-distribution businesses, by providing them with better profit margins, access to a large assortment of brands, and ensuring supply consistency. We’re empowering people to take charge of their livelihoods,” added Shruti, founder, and chief executive officer, Apnaklub.
According to the 2020 report by Accenture, the digital transformation of just 10 per cent of the 13 million kirana stores in the country could boost retail consumption by more than 5 per cent and generate about 3.2 million new jobs.
Apnaklub’s innovative, agent-led solution known as the Apnaklub Partner Program currently includes the participation of over 5,000 wholesalers and counting. Partners are provided with personalized training and support to create sustainable wholesale businesses for themselves, while also earning a commission on each order they fulfil. The startup also has plans to layer other services onto its network, such as providing pricing and market intelligence data to small and large brands alike.