Online grocery services have become an essential part of our households, especially amidst the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns due to it. Ordering groceries has become as easy as a tap on the phone, with plenty of options to choose from besides other services. But, behind this seamless – search, click, order, deliver – motion, lies a humongous supply chain, including producers, retailers, wholesalers, and so on.
Ever wondered how the grocery merchant you ordered a rice packet from got the same in the first place? Maybe s/he had a similar exclusive platform where s/he ordered it from?
Well, this brings us to the vast cycle of e-commerce processes for businesses and the introduction of B2B online food and grocery start-up, Jumbotail.
Jumbotail, a ‘data-centric and agile company in the B2B e-commerce domain’, gives thousands of Kiranas, producers, retailers and wholesalers a common platform to buy and sell products. Starting out small, the start-up today operates a full-stack e-commerce model consisting of its B2B marketplace platform, industry-leading warehousing infrastructure, last-mile delivery supply chain network, and a fintech platform for payment and credit solutions to Kirana store owners.
Bringing the Idea of Jumbotail Together
Like most start-ups, Jumbotail has had its fair share of ups and downs, especially given the fact that it operates in a traditional sector. It all goes back to 2008, when co-founder Mr. Karthik Venkateswaran, a former Major in the Indian Army and a marketplaces technology-product veteran, conceived the idea of aggregating coconut farming in Madurai. Though the ‘aggregation’ proposition was ahead of its time, it didn’t yield expected results.
On the other hand, co-founder Mr. Ashish Jhina, a third-generation apple farmer, continued with his management journey at Boston Consulting Group in New Delhi. The duo came together at Stanford University and discovered a shared interest in the Indian grocery and food supply chain, more towards its gaps and filling the same. They went on to pursue their respective paths, but the idea lingered at the back of their heads and was discussed on multiple occasions between the two.
Both Karthik and Ashish, primarily being from agricultural backgrounds, had first-hand experience with regard to the gaps in the food supply chain, including mismanaged distribution and procurement at Mandis. More prominent for them was the gap between retailers, wholesalers, and producers besides logistics, payments, and other challenges.
In 2015, the duo launched Jumbotail to fill this gap and bring the trio of retailers, wholesalers, and producers together on one single platform in order to streamline the process. Their respective combined backgrounds in agriculture and management played to their strength.
While the Indian agricultural scene is a backbone of our economy and society, it also has a vast number of gaps. Jumbotail is the bridge that is aimed at closing those gaps.
‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Dukaan’: Power of Aggregation
Jumbotail started out with a simple app in the year 2015, a time around which the internet wasn’t as prevalent and cheap as it is today. As a result, it faced challenges such as hesitancy and lack of trust from people to use the app. However, deriving inspiration from successful online business models of Amazon, eBay, etc., it gradually convinced people about the potential future of online marketplaces such as its booming landscape, revamped communication, its role during a disruption such as demonetization, and how Jumbotail stood as a collective alternative for all this.
Jumbotail realised the issues in having non-streamlined networks at the distributors (wholesalers) end who faced communication discrepancies and time constraints. Similarly, at the other end with Kirana stores, it figured out issues such as poorly structured procurement methods, resultant financial constraints, largely low educational qualifications, and tech and market awareness due to which it designed its marketplace (an app) in a simplistic user-friendly manner that effectively catered to all of this.
This app was also made compatible on low-end 2G/3G network phones and the company introduced fintech platforms to it that enabled transactions and provided access to working capital credit. Through this, Jumbotail was able to get its idea across people, overcome major obstacles and get thousands of customers aboard over the course of a few years.
So, how does Jumbotail work?
It connects Kirana stores/retailers with the supply side. In other words, it is an aggregator and online wholesale marketplace that connects small scale retailers with wholesalers. Essentially, this happens through the app which drastically simplifies the traditionally prolonging task of retailers having to physically visit markets which would result in other issues such as financial loss due to temporary closure, warehousing, transportation, disputes, etc. This online platform opens up a whole new world to Kirana store owners by eliminating several constraints in the following ways.
Procurement and Transportation
What would initially require retailers to shut their stores for a day or two and result in unnecessary communication, transportation and time/financial loss is now available at the retailer’s fingertips wherein orders can be placed online. And for transportation logistics of the same, the company ties up with vehicles on a monthly lease and has 110 vehicles currently in the running.
Stocking and Warehousing
The start-up provides a makeshift warehouse for regular customers/retailers who face the issue of limited storage capacity amidst stocking up goods in bulk in order to prevent multiple commutations to distant places.
Instead of retailers having to visit multiple places for different kinds of products, the app streamlines the same by allowing access to over 3,500 varieties of products that are placed in its various sections.
Jumbotail also seems to have a clear understanding of its target audience which is reflected through its app’s extremely simple interface and friendly add-on features. For instance, its ‘GoldenEye’ and multilingualism feature simplifies and educates Kirana store owners regarding market trends, purchase patterns, product margins, stocks, etc, without them having to spend much time researching and that too in their preferred languages. Besides, Jumbotail offers to install data packs into customers’ devices and add the same in their invoice post-transaction.
Collectively, through this, Jumbotail aims to re-engineer the Indian grocery ecosystem by providing fair access to markets and increased economic opportunities for millions of ‘mom and pop’ grocery retailers, brands, and staples producers and farmers.
Jumbotail’s Business Model That Paved the Way
Let’s talk about revenue now. The company runs on a B2B business model with a large chunk of revenue coming from commission collected from sellers (particularly wholesalers) who list their products on the app along with supply chain services such as warehousing and door-to-door delivery for retailers among other generic aggregator services. The company also earns from digital product placement, digital merchandising and in some cases, sampling.
Coming to funding, Jumbotail raised around $2 million in its seed funding; even before its incorporation, which convinced future investors of its ability to build the business. Credits for this growth spree go to its timely tapping in of the right market (Kiranas), its conviction of the future of 4G internet and its ability to visualize a combined future of both as an economic powerhouse of India which was proof enough for its first investor – Nexus Venture Partners.
Post this, the company has witnessed a manifold increase in interest by investors from around the world. The latest being in the third round of its Series B wherein it met its targeted $25 million single round investment by gaining a whopping $14.2 led by VII ventures.
Prior to this, it raised around $11 million in the second round of Series B the previous year along with its other stages, therefore, summing up its total funding to around $54 million. Overall, the company aims to utilise this capital to scale its business to new regions and double down its network along with launching a suite of services to help FMCG brands go to the market exponentially faster and at a low cost.
Thanks to its rapid addressal system and how it is broaching the gaps in the industry, it has received significant backing which will help Jumbotail grow more in the years to come.
Jumbotail: Competitors and Meeting the Challenges
Jumbotail initially faced competition from big start-ups like Grofers, Big Basket, etc. Some of these brands have also had to reinvent themselves due to outrage around their business models. For instance, Grofers, which went from a logistics company that delivered groceries from Kiranas to consumers eventually ended up building its own inventory and eliminating Kiranas due to increasing demand. This, despite “simplifying” supply chains, ended up having severe consequences on Kirana stores.
Jumbotail instead operates a full-stack tech-driven supply chain to provide warehousing facilities for its wholesalers and simplifies logistics by its storefront delivery system, which helps enhance small scale business operations. Thus, committing itself to the preservation and improvisation of Kiranas, it leaves little room for their elimination.
Of late, Jumbotail has developed stronger competition in the likes of Ninjacart, Waycool, Udaan, etc. with Ninjacart being the fiercest, boasting funding of over $200 million (4 times that of Jumbotail) and a steep difference in workforce of around 2000 employees. Despite this, Jumbotail is seeing profits and seeks to ramp up its operations in several parts of the country outside its Bangalore headquarters to boost ahead of competitors in the long run. At the end of the day the main challenge comes down to staying afloat in such a saturated market while still looking out for everyone in the supply chain.
The ‘X’ factor: What Made Jumbotail Stand out?
The start-up has managed to adapt to various different scenarios of the grocery-agriculture industry and cater to some of the major demands of Kirana stores’ even during times of major inconvenience. For instance, the ongoing pandemic where they could boast about being one of the only companies in their sector to have profitably functioned during some of its most stringent months. Thanks to its ‘J24’ programme which connects Kirana stores to its own hi-tech streamlined supply chain network, it stood as an exclusive alternative for traditional offline players that were highly disrupted during the lockdown crisis.
Another distinguishing factor is Jumbotail’s understanding and analysis of mistakes of those who have directly jumped the gun of profit, without genuine consideration of their brand’s actual motive. This gives Jumbotail an edge over its competitors who have faced the wrath of accusations of “wiping away” small scale stores and farmers.
Current Status and Upward Trends
Despite its tough competition, Jumbotail has managed to pass the test of time. Subsequently, the pandemic seems to have done little or no harm due to its well planned techno-centric and futuristic arsenal which has clearly worked in its favour.
While companies lost about 75 per cent of their workforce, Jumbotail managed to almost retain this amount due to its full-stack tech-driven supply chain and logistics model and its provision of capital credit to customers via its fintech platform.
In short, it paved the path for emerging and “failing” companies (those affected by the pandemic) through its optimal tech usage in restoring and restructuring the Indian grocery-agriculture supply chain; thus pioneering and gearing up for possible future distortions such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Road Ahead of Jumbotail
Latest trends have also shown that Jumbotail plans to expand its business across multiple geographies. The company also aims to increase its pre-existing omnichannel integrations by adding several more hyperlocal platforms. All of this, with the help of its $14.2 million raised in its Series B3 funding earlier this year.
So how far will the company go? What does the future hold for Jumbotail? Only time will tell. At the moment, it looks bright and they certainly seem to have stuck to their tagline. Their ultimate goal to streamline and rebuild India’s supply chain along with garnering the retailer’s trust only seems to be moving upwards. Therefore, they certainly have made their mark by overcoming obstacles and turning challenges into opportunities.
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