E-commerce company Infibeam, is all set to join hands with the Government of Gujarat and sign an MoU to setup Vishwagram Bazaar, a connected retail platform for fair price shops and village entrepreneurs under their own brand name. Infibeam claims that this will be a Rs 2,000 crore MoU, and part of the Gujarat government’s IT enabled rural retail and marketplace initiative.
In an interview to MediaNama, Infibeam Founder and CEO Vishal Mehta informed that Infibeam will invest Rs 2,000 crore over a period of 5 years, with support from the Gujarat government, in developing IT infrastructure, logistics, product inventories and support services to cater to 15,000 to 20,000 centers comprising of village fair price shops and local entrepreneurs across the state. Infibeam will open up its e-commerce platform and provide a virtual inventory to them and set-up their online Vishwagram Bazaar stores, complete with the URLs of their own names and in their own language. Around 14,000 connected villages in the state will be able to buy and sell goods, including local products online. He feels that the initiative will showcase the state’s cottage industry to a global audience and make prices more transparent. The project would go live next month
According to Mehta, the company will fund the project through debt and growth capital and it will be a ‘for profit’ venture although it might take some time for it to turn profitable.
The products on offer in these stores will include FMCG products as well as retail goods like apparel, books, mobile phones and electronics. Village entrepreneurs will also be able to list local products on their online store, which will make it accessible to all other Vishwagram Stores as well as other Infibeam affiliates who are interested, and drive demand without spending on promotion. This way the stores would be like a co-operative and not compete with each other.
Prospective rural customers will be able to access a detailed online product catalogue by visiting their nearest Vishwagram Bazaar. They will be able to experience the product virtually and order it through the store by paying cash. Infibeam will be responsible for picking up and delivering the product. Infibeam will have a small revenue share from each product sold on the store and in turn the store owner will also get affiliate revenue from products that are sourced and fulfilled by Infibeam. The company will also hire 20,000 people over a period of 5 years for this project.
Of late Infibeam has diversified from an e-commerce portal and launched its infrastructure platform becoming a solutions provider, powering web stores for TTK Prestige, Crossword, Hidesign and Shoppers Stop. Mehta said that the company is eying VC funding in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 100 crore , in an interview to VCCircle.com. He said that the funding will be pumped into developing technology to address the requirements of the growing e-commerce business. The company is setting up two warehouses in Mumbai and Delhi and is set to focus on the supply chain front.