Yatrikart, an Indore-based retail chain, is allowing micro-entrepreneurship by utilizing technology to empower hawkers and shopkeepers at transit stops and roads.
Gaurav Rana, who is from a tiny hamlet in Haryana, began working at the age of 17. Gaurav was lured to the beauty and wellness market after closing Vocano Events in 2016, and shortly co-founded Calipso, a website for making appointments for beauty treatments from anywhere, with his brother, Mohit Rana.
Within seven months, the firm had profitably grown and offered 3,000 beauty treatments to over 950 consumers, with order values ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000. Gaurav next focused his attention on minor vendors and hawkers, especially those selling food, toys, and periodicals aboard trains. Small hawkers and merchants are frequently evicted or penalized.
Many people are unaware of how an age-old vocation like hawking and peddling became prohibited in India. The reason for this is because many hawkers are not authorized by the authorities to sell items inside trains and on roadways.
As a result, they face repeated evictions, penalties, and a lack of incentives,” he claims. Gaurav co-founded Indore-based Yatrikart in 2021 with wife Shivangee Sharma, concentrating on “retailing-on-the-go” for individuals traveling via rail or road.
The retail firm works with hawkers to offer necessities like food, water bottles, sanitary napkins, chargers, and headphones, as well as non-essentials for road and train travelers. They now have seven roadside retail outlets in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, as well as 30 carts aboard trains that pass through these regions.
“By providing them with technology support and training, we are enabling last-mile businesses,” Gaurav explains. He further claims, “We call hawkers “captains” since the name “hawker” has a bad connotation. It’s strange how air hostesses selling the same items on a flight are regarded as normal, yet someone selling the same goods on the street is regarded differently.”
Shuru-Digital Up’s Platform and Artha Venture Fund invested $450,000 in the firm in June 2022.
“The retail on-the-go category has enormous development potential,” says Artha Venture Fund Managing Partner Anirudh A Damani. “Gaurav and Shivangee’s firm has put a method to the chaos by simplifying an otherwise fragmented operation of stand-alone merchants and hawkers at travel hubs such as airports, metros, trains, and highways.
Their technologically aided offer saves time while satisfying travelers’ impulsive demands.” Yatrikart transports small shopkeepers and hawkers who sell their wares in trains and on major roadways. They are taught and given a working license in exchange for a security deposit ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, depending on the quantity of the inventory.
These hawkers then sell Yatrikart items in roadside shops or pushcarts onboard trains. The ‘captains’ are paid a 20% commission on sales.
Yatrikart now works with 15 hawkers and 15 small sellers. Yatrikart’s backend platform accepts both hawkers and retail brands following a thorough background and police verification procedure. This is a requirement for hawkers and sellers operating on trains, railway stations, and national roads in India.
“Small merchants and sellers sometimes lack the funds to rent space, build infrastructure, and acquire items from other corporations to sell. This is when Yatrikart comes into play.”
We provide the merchandise, give simple backend technology, and assist customers in setting up their shop or cart. Dove, Colgate, Colorbar, Pepsi, PeeSafe, Unilever, ITC Limited, and other brands have worked with Yatrikart.
Yatrikart’s business plan entails preserving a product margin of 40%, of which 20% goes to hawkers. Gaurav claims that the firm made Rs 25 lakh per month in income within six months of its October 2021 launch. So yet, they have not filed any financial reports with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. According to the creator, building trust among hawkers is difficult.
“Another difficulty is promoting the product. Because long-distance travel is only done on occasion, the team must explain and advertise their brand to new clients every day. Gaurav believes that because the bulk of the people is ignorant of such retail brands, effective marketing is difficult. “Our goal is to instill in the public a similar concept that it is alright to forget a few things while packing for lengthy vacations since Yatrikart will come to the rescue,” Gaurav adds.
According to Kearney Research, India’s retail business would increase by 9% from 2019 to 2030, hitting $1.8 trillion. Yatrikart wishes to capitalize on this opportunity.
The business plans to open 200 retail stores and carts in the next year, with a larger goal of 10,000 carts and shops in the following five years.