Research has found that Indian women find it hard to start and expand their own businesses due to lack of dedicated time, limited access to capital, and restricted mobility. Hence it is no wonder that women own only less than 10 percent of all micro enterprises in the country.
However the last decade witnessed an online revolution. With rising penetration of smartphones and internet, social media, ecommerce, and on-demand service platforms becoming part of our daily lives. These changes in lifestyle have also given rise to thousands of micro entrepreneurs, particularly women who now had a chance to be financially independent for the first time. In fact, the ecommerce industry is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019-2024) of 17.1 percent, resulting in a market volume of $ 24,470 million by 2024.
A slew of online platforms have also come up, enabling women to be online sellers and entrepreneurs from the comfort of their homes, by providing software solutions needed for tech startups. Find out more about such platforms:
Bengaluru-based Meesho, a social commerce platform, was founded by IIT-Delhi alumni Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in 2015. This social commerce platform enables anyone to start their business with zero investment. Once you register as a seller on Meesho, instead of buying the inventory, you can share the stock to your contacts through social media channels or/and WhatsApp, and make a commission you desire for each sale. Meesho takes care of the logistics, delivery, and payment related to the sale.
There are over two million resellers on the Meesho platform today, 90 percent of them women. Meesho has a range of products in fashion and lifestyle category, and its app is available in seven local languages as well as English.
Partnering with SEWA (Self Employed Women Association) and Impulse Social Enterprise for boosting women entrepreneurship in the country, e-commerce titan Amazon launched ‘The Saheli Store’ for products curated by women entrepreneurs in India, in 2017. In collaboration with its partner organisations, Amazon Saheli enables women entrepreneurs with access to customers on its Indian online marketplace.
The dedicated storefront features items produced locally by these women entrepreneurs, mostly in lifestyle category. Amazon enables access to logistics and fulfilment facilities for these women, along with free imaging and cataloguing during launch, account management and post launch support. Amazon Saheli also offers training and skill development workshops in online selling to help women entrepreneurs to help them grow their business on Amazon.
Founded in June 2017 by Sonal Verma, Kunal Sinha, Nitesh Pant, Shekhar Sahu, and Nilesh Padariya, GlowRoad is a social commerce network, which enables suppliers to sell their products to end customers through resellers across more than 400 cities globally.
Resellers on the platform get access to millions of products from 20,000 suppliers, along with payments and shipping facilities. They can also sell their products across India via social media apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The company had grown from around 30 transactions a day last year to 15,000 transactions per day in April 2019. The peer-to-peer platform builds a network for women, primarily home makers, to resell products, using both online and offline modes.
Founded in 2014, Singapore-based Shopmatic enables small business owners set up online businesses. Among its users, women outnumber men, with about 60 percent of homemakers becoming entrepreneurs in categories like fashion, lifestyle, and food.
From developing a unique web store to listing businesses on marketplaces on the sellers’ behalf, Shopmatic serves as a single window to help entrepreneurs be online sellers.
Since retail is done across multiple channels like e-commerce, social commerce, and omnichannel, Shopmatic gives customised solutions for each. It also provides data analytics to help sellers reach out to their target audience more efficiently, as well as assists in managing selling channels, integrating payment and delivery systems. One can also monitor the volume of the sales on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and assess business growth.
US-based online marketplace for handcrafted goods Etsy, which launched in India in 2018, helps local entrepreneurs sell their unique and handcrafted goods across the world. Although the platform does not undertake logistics and delivery on behalf of the users, they often provide assistance to the sellers in this regard. For sellers who are not adept at articulating themselves, the platform also provides content writers to help convey their stories, thereby using content marketing feasibly.
Founded in 2005, Etsy has about two million sellers and around 35 million customers from across the globe registered on its site. About 87 percent sellers registered on Etsy are women. Etsy’s product categories include fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, and vintage collectibles.
Logistics startup Shiprocket’s ecommerce platform Kraftly, now known as Shiprocket Social, helps entrepreneurs and small businesses create websites, sell, ship and get paid. The app enables individuals to create their own branded micro-shop, list their products, and receive payments on the go, all this without the need of any paperwork.
Additionally, Shiprocket provides automated logistics solutions for online sellers. With the help of data analytics and artificial intelligence, this startup helps recommend the best shipping medium and partner to sellers. The platform has integrated with leading logistics partners such as Delhivery, Xpressbees, FedEx, Blue Dart, etc to provide seamless logistic services. It has one of the largest networks in India with 26,000 pin codes available for pickups, deliveries, and cash-on-delivery (CoD).