Builder.ai, the leading AI-powered software development platform, today announced the launch of its new programme providing ‘digital starter kits’ as a means of helping distressed Indian businesses boost sales, keep their customers safe and forge a strong path to their COVID-19 recovery. The programme will make it easy for Indian small businesses to sell online with a free ecommerce ‘shop in a box’ and for restaurants to launch free queueing apps through Studio Store, \
The programme is specifically designed for:
- Retailers who want to offer a digital customer experience (website and/or native app) to allow customers to make online purchases for click-and-collect or delivery
- Retailers who are inclined to take orders via phone or text/WhatsApp
- Restaurants, pubs and bars who want to allow customers to book tables through a rich queueing system, which reduces wait times and delivers an exceptional and safe customer experience
With a population of 1.3 billion, India has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 with more than a third of small and medium-sized businesses surveyed by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation saying their businesses were beyond hope of rescuing. This isn’t surprising given the fact that consumer spending in India decreased by 12.6 percent in 2020. To make matters worse, recent analysis by Credit Suisse found that COVID-19 cost the Indian economy INR 20 trillion.
Now, 2021 looks promising for Indian businesses with household spending in India expected to grow by 7.9 percent year-over-year. During the last quarter of 2020, e-commerce order volume grew by 36 percent in India, with the personal care, beauty and wellness segment (PCB&W) seeing the highest growth. According to a survey by the Retailers Association of India, Indian retailers across the electronics, fashion and grocery sectors are cautiously optimistic about rebounding in 2021 and expect around 85 percent of pre-pandemic business levels in the next six months. While there’s optimism for growth in 2021, financial experts predict that recovery in India will be slower than in most other countries. \
“India is in a somewhat unique position right now, with lockdowns already lifted for months coupled with cautious optimism for business growth in 2021,” said Sachin Dev Duggal, Co-Founder and CEO of Builder.ai. “But there are also growing concerns that India could be headed for another lockdown in the near future. Regardless of whether that happens, digital is the best way forward and our free ‘digital starter kits’ make it easy for Indian small businesses to take their business online, while restaurants can already work on improving the queueing experience and reduce wait times for customers. We want the Indian business community to know they’re not alone; we’re in this together and we’re committed to helping them rebuild and thrive.”
Builder.ai polled approximately 300 retail business professionals in India to gauge how valuable free apps could be in their COVID-19 recovery efforts. The results were eye-opening, with a whopping 92 percent of Indian retail professionals saying they would happily accept an offer to build a free ecommerce store and launch it in under a week, as a way to accelerate their COVID-19 recovery. As these findings reveal, Indian businesses truly want and need help; they’re just lacking the critical support and infrastructure. That’s where Builder.ai comes in with both support and the tools to get back on their feet financially.
During the lockdowns, restaurants and retailers have been paying large portions of their revenue to aggregators and marketplaces like Zomato, Swiggy, Amazon and Flipkart, who can charge up to 35 percent commissions, to serve their customers who moved to ordering online. This is something that small businesses simply cannot afford. Essentially, Indian small businesses have been paying high commission fees to serve their own customers, who haven’t been able to enjoy the in-store shopping and dining experiences they would have pre-lockdown.
Sachin Dev Duggal concluded, “Our vision is to put an app into the hands of every entrepreneur and small business without asking them to give up a share of their revenue, especially now when budgets are tight and consumer spending is down. This is why Builder.ai won’t charge any fees – so the free apps can be free forever – and businesses will only be charged after they grow to generate more than 50 orders per month. Instead, their hard-earned money can be reinvested into operations, cash flow and paying staff. It’s impossible to argue with that kind of ROI. For restaurants, on the other hand, launching a free queueing app will not only keep customers safe, but it will also reduce wait times and improve the overall customer experience. That will translate into more trust, more loyalty and more repeat business.”