Overcart, an e-commerce marketplace for over-stock, unboxed, refurbished, and pre-owned products, as of yesterday, had a notice up saying that it is currently only accepting bulk orders, and customers appear to be complaining about not having received products that they had ordered. Employees appear to be looking for new jobs. We checked, and the website does not list any products anymore: no products in new arrivals, laptop peripherals, restored mobiles, among others.

“We’re only accepting bulk orders”

When MediaNama checked the site day before yesterday (and yesterday), we found the following message:

“We’re only accepting bulk orders. Write to us: bulk@overcart.com

If you have an order, track it at track.overcart.com or reach us: help@overcart.com”

It’s not clear why it has come to this, and whether the company is shutting shop: MediaNama made multiple attempts to contact Overcart’s co-founder & managing director, Alexander Souter over phone, text messages and email, since yesterday, but haven’t heard back from him yet. We also got in touch with Jonathan Bill, who is one of the early investors in Overcart. However, he declined to comment on this. We’ve sent Souter some questions (listed below), and we’ll update if and when we hear from him

At the time of writing this post, the notice (screenshot below) seems to have been removed.

Overcart had last raised $3 million from JSW Ventures, Omidyar Network, Sattva Capital and Venture Works, in July last year. At the time, the company had said that it planned to use the funds to upgrade its hardware and software capabilities for product quality assessment across more categories, as well as to expand operations to more locations.

Previously, the company had raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by K Ganesh’s GrowthStory, with follow-on investment from the GSF Superangels network in June 2014. This included IndiaMart founder & CEO Dinesh Agarwal; iXiGo founder & CEO, Aloke Bajpai; former Vodafone India executive and co-founder & CEO of fintech company CreditMate, Jonathan Bill; GSF founder Rajesh Sawhney; GSF operating partner Rishab Malik; and GSF’s Tara Bhargava. And prior to that, Overcart had received seed funding worth $25,000 from GSF, while being part of the accelerator’s first startup batch in October 2012.

Dissatisfied customers & no more products listed

Overcart’s Twitter account is filled with tweets from disgruntled customers, some of whom had placed orders up to three months back and haven’t received the products yet, and others who are still waiting for refunds.

The last posts on both its Facebook page and Twitter account were on September 13, following which the only activity on these platforms has been limited to addressing customer complaints.

The website, like we mentioned, doesn’t appear to be retailing products anymore.

Several Overcart employees looking for new jobs

As of July last year, Overcart, which also helped other e-commerce companies manage their customer returns and eliminate unsold stock by offering these products at marked down prices (liquidation prices) to consumers and smaller retailers, had 120 employees and operations across Delhi-NCR, Bangalore and Mumbai. It currently has 126 employees, as per its LinkedIn page, and many of them seem to be ‘actively looking for new opportunities’. Check here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

Refurbished & pre-owned goods segment in India

A couple of years back, the refurbished and pre-owned goods segment, especially smartphones and certain other electronic products, was believed to be the next big thing in India’s e-commerce space. Given that India had (has) a thriving market for unboxed, pirated smartphones, the belief that this retail model should work well in the country, especially if there’s a warranty or return policy in place, stood on solid ground.

In fact, Overcart’s primary competitor, GreenDust currently powers Amazon’s global ‘Amazon Renewed‘ programme, through which the e-commerce major sells refurbished, pre-owned and open-box products. Amazon Renewed was launched in January this year.

Some of the other companies in this segment have recently raised funding as well – Yaantra (formerly Gadgetwood) raised $3.1 million last month and about $6 million in September last year; and Zefo raised $9.2 million from Sequoia Capital, Helion Venture Partners, and Beenext, also last month. Other players in this space such as Noida-based Gobol, Hyderabad-based YNew and Kolkata-based Budli.in, which allow users to sell, buy or refurbish used gadgets, are still very much around.

Surpluss.in shuts shop

However, not everything is hunky dory. Delhi-based e-tailer of refurbished goods, Surpluss.in shut shop earlier this year, in April, as reported by Moneycontrol. Surpluss’ managing director, HS Bhatia had told the publication that the company’s B2C inventory based business model requires a lot of working capital, which proved to be unsustainable. Last year’s demonitisation drive is also believed to have taken a major toll on the business.

It’s worth noting that in August 2015, Amazon India had partnered with Surpluss to sell refurbished smartphones by Samsung and Xiaomi on its platform.

Questions sent to Souter

Here are the questions that we have sent Alexander Souter over mail:

1. We noticed that Overcart is currently only accepting bulk orders, and the website itself is inaccessible. Plus, several customers have posted complaints about delays in deliveries and processing of refunds on Overcart’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Is Overcart shutting down or scaling down operations?

2. We also noticed on LinkedIn that several employees of Overcart are currently looking for new opportunities. Has Overcart laid off certain employees, or have they been given a last date of operations by when they need to find other opportunities elsewhere?

3. Overcart had last raised $3 million worth of funding in July 2016, and was working towards upgrading its product quality assessment process, as well as expanding operations. What has changed since then that has resulted in Overcart transitioning to bulk orders only?

4. Did external developments such as demonitisation have a negative impact on Overcart’s operations?