Traditional rivals with sixty-six year old discord has embraced cross border expansion of Indian grocery marketplace AaramShop. The startup picked Pakistan as the first port of call in its global expansion.
The Indian start-up initiated in 2011, launched its Pakistani service in the first week of August, via a partnership with local retail chain RedBox Groceries with the name of Aaramshop.pk.
CEO and co-founder of Aaramshop Vijay Singh signed the deal with Pakistani couterparts about six months ago. Formal launch is followed by beta phase of few months. Vijay Singh said the two countries shared more similarities than differences and the business model is ideally suited for a retail eco-system like the one present in neighboring countries.
“The way that we look at it is the similarities between the two markets are enormous and the model we follow in India can be replicated with relative ease in Pakistan,” Singh said of the two countries. “The biggest issue when trying something in Pakistan is that the relations between the two countries tends to move between extremes.”
“Once we talked to the locals, there is a level of optimism that the recent change of government will positively impact the economy. Regardless, the category we’re operating in, groceries, is something every household needs.”
Red Box will be responsible for promoting the AaramShop application, which allows customers to buy brand name goods online and have these delivered by their local neighbourhood grocery stores, or “AaramShops.” The inventory is aggregated across all merchants, and the nearest shop will usually deliver the goods.
While Pakistani retailers will be hand-picked in the first phase, Singh believes the country will follow the adoption pattern in India, where big chains eventually started listing goods on the website. It’s free for shops to list and sell goods on the website; and AaramShop makes money by charging for premium listings and premium services.
Apart from Karachi, Pakistan, Aaramshop already has a presence in 30 Indian cities, including its home city of Delhi, as well as Mumbai, and Bangalore, and Singh said they were able to expand because unlike other local grocery e-commerce stores, Aaramshop does not hold any inventory.
Aaramshop is currently serving in Karachi with 23 stores.
(Courtesy: Vijay Singh & Mahesh Sharma)