Express Stores, a Gurugram-based startup founded in 2019, is a branded omni-channel chain of kirana stores, providing a 360-degree solution to retailers which helps them deliver great value to consumers. “For consumers, our partner stores are the first-of-their-kind neighbourhood branded stores that bring trust they seek,” says Apoorv Jain, co-founder and CEO, Express Stores.
“For retailers, the company provides hassle-free retailing. This gets enabled by the company’s suite of technology solutions, unlocking massive physical and mental bandwidth for retailers. Our solutions include technology lead inventory management and supply, omnichannel front end for consumers, digital payments, and better savings, among others,” he informs.
Express Stores is a team of young, experienced and hustling team of passionate leaders, targeting a challenging but massive opportunity in India. Jain, an IIT Delhi graduate, has built and scaled startups including his first startup, Rocket Internet’s Office Yes (Lazada) and most recently Urban Company. The other co-founder, Kartik Gupta (COO at Express Stores) is a BITS Pilani graduate and has built and scaled startups including his first startup, Rocket Internet’s Jabong, Wadi and most recently Flyrobe.
With the objective of empowering local kirana stores, Express Stores’ franchise model leverages technology both at the back-end in supply chain, inventory management, partner management, intelligence and at the front-end in consumer and partner facing technology. It leverages aggregation of supply in the back-end to provide supply distribution to its stores.
Express Stores claims it has achieved product market fit and is building a scalable, technologically driven and contribution margin positive business. “We have multiple partner stores across Gurugram and Delhi. We aim to have our presence strengthened across Delhi/NCR in the next 1-2 years, while strengthening our tech systems to scale,” says Jain.
Express Stores has recently raised seed funding of `8 crore. The round was led by early-stage venture capital firm Venture Highway (founded by Neeraj Arora, ex-WhatsApp and Samir Sood, ex-Google) with participation of marquee individual investors—Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal), Anupam Mittal (People Group) and Amit Singhal (Google) among others. The funds would be utilised for product-market fit, initial growth, talent addition, supply chain and technology.
According to Jain, grocery is an overwhelmingly large market, and the most important thing is to have a clear sight of positive unit economics and scaling fast. There will be multiple formats and many companies who will build large businesses in grocery and the modernisation of kiranas, a segment which continues to be largely unorganised, is a huge untapped niche. Consumers need modern shopping experience in their neighbourhood while retailers need hassle-free, profitable business operations.
Jain says the future holds a great neighbourhood omnichannel shopping experience for consumers and effortless retailing for kiranas. “Express Stores aims to lead this change and wants to be the most preferred and first choice of daily needs store for the neighbourhood,” he summarises.