Tier 2 and 3 cities are the future of retail. Says who?
Well, experts and market watchers. According to consumer and retail consultant, Kearney’s survey in 2021, cities such as Kanpur, Jaipur, Vijayawada, Kozhikode, Nasik, and others will drive the next phase of growth for India’s retail industry, given the low percentage of the organized retail outside of the top 20 metros.
The shift in consumption patterns in smaller towns over the last decade has resulted in stronger spending power in these areas, according to the report. The exponential growth of internet usage has also helped.
Foreign retail giants are spreading out from the major cities into the lower tiers, and you will even find the success stories of homegrown brands everywhere. The brick-and-mortar, though with casualties, has survived the worst of the pandemic, and is geared to grow.
The people behind 91Squarefeet have studied this environment for some time now, and now it’s their job to help this growth. Simply put, 91Squarefeet is an “operating system for physical retail”. Let’s find out more.
Building A Shop, One SquareFeet a time
91Squarefeet was founded in 2019 to assist companies in creating and running retail outlets without having to hire their own massive project teams.
During their MBA, Amit Mishra and Amit Bansal were close friends. After finishing their degree, they founded a profitable SaaS startup, “Quifers” together.
On the other hand, since 2012, Puneet and Amit Bansal have had a strong friendship. Both are civil engineers who formerly worked in the structural and MEP design department of WSP India. During that period, they were also flatmates.
Having observed the industry for years, the trio realized solving the massive, unstructured retail fitouts market needed an enterprise IT product expertise, solid financial management, and a strong belief system. They felt they possessed the ideal skill set to handle the challenge of an enormous unstructured supply ecology. Hence, 91Squarefeet was born.
Fast forward to today, Puneet Bansal (Chief Product Officer) is heavily involved in 91Squarefeet’s technological advancements. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest to create a fantastic project planning and collaboration software for companies.
Amit Mishra is 91Squarefeet’s Chief Finance and Strategy Officer. His staff takes care of cash flow and extends credit early to suppliers, and he has an in-depth knowledge of finance.
Finally, Chief Executive Officer Amit Bansal is in charge of general growth, operations, and stakeholder management.
Paving the way for Indian retail
Suppose you are a retail business owner. In the next three months, your company plans to build 50 stores. You’ve selected the sites based on a detailed market analysis and need to immediately start. To meet tight deadlines, you hire two contractors rather than one. You’re confident that everything will be finished on time.
However, things don’t turn out the way you expected. The outlets are about a week away from opening, and there are still various things to accomplish. You’re stressed out.
The majority of aspiring companies wish to expand their retail footprint across the country but are held back by missed deadlines and suffer the same fate. That’s exactly where you hire 91Squarefeet. It is your outsourced project management business that allows you to scale your retail footprint quickly and easily.
So, How Does It Actually Work?
Organized retail is expected to double by 2025 as tier-II markets become viable for luxury goods and services. However, building a retail shop in India remains challenging due to the unorganized nature of retail fit-out providers (i.e. civil work, furniture, branding, etc.).
Once partnered with 91Squarefeet, brands may quickly upload all of the retail fit-out components (tiles, lighting, furniture, etc.) of their store templates using an AI-driven project management platform.
Finally, companies may mobilize the execution of their new shop with a single click, since the system assigns every component to the best-fit supplier and updates the brand in real-time progress.
The Gurugram-based startup is on a mission to design a system that manages the store throughout its life cycle, rather than merely creating storefronts. With a single laptop, brands should be able to purchase equipment (Racks, Mannequins, Kitchen equipment), recruit and manage labor, and maintain the store. In a nutshell, 91Squarefeet is developing a physical store operating system.
The Tech Behind It
91Squarefeet’s technology divides the tiresome task of opening a store into three stages: recce, planning, and execution, which are further divided into 19 automated phases.
The field supervisor captures the whole scope and dimensions of the site in the first stage, Recce, using an inhouse mobile app.
Then, based on machinery, capacity, price, and previous performance, its Planning tool assists in allocating the best appropriate provider.
Furthermore, with dynamic milestone-based checklists and automation, its Live execution Dashboard provides real-time progress data and WhatsApp notifications.
Squaring Up The Feats
The company has been currently growing 20% month on month. Its turnover for FY21-22 was 18 crore rupees; the monthly revenue for March 2022 is four cr.
It has successfully worked with 30+ prominent companies in the last 9 months, including the top three retail behemoths: Tata, Aditya Birla Group, and Reliance Retail. Some other famous customers are Yokohoma, DHL, Ceat, etc.
91Squarefeet is a part of the current Y-Combinator W-22 batch. It has already raised $1 million in September 2021. They are in talks of closing the Series A round very soon.