With the lockdown imposed, nobody is allowed to step out of their house. This has hit rural areas hard as it becomes difficult to get the essentials. The urban India has delivery services from multiple forums but the situation isn’t same in smaller towns across India. Boonbox, a Chennai based last-mile delivery startup took this challenge on their head. Started with selling consumer durables like smartphones, white goods and cooking appliances to rural customers, they have adapted their services to provide essentials in lockdown.
Started 7 years ago, Boonbox has gathered an audience in rural India. They use a subscription model in their business which will remain same even while delivering essentials. The only difference now will be transaction size will be smaller and will be more frequent than before. They plan on building rural ecosystem by creating micro entrepreneurs at the village level.
Karthik Natarajan realized that even though connectivity in rural India is increasing, it is still difficult for companies to reach out to them. This gave cultivation to the idea of Boonbox and Karthik joined hands with Ramachandran Ramanathan and Narayan H to begin Boonbox in 2013.
The entire system works with affiliates who have the Boonbox app in their phone and people can place order through that. The startup then delivers the order through Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This ensures that the customer is receiving the goods in market price. To adapt to Covid-19 lockdown, they are partnering with local stores and brands.
With the help of Deshpande Foundation in North Karnatka, Boonbox is reaching out to 2000 villagers and creating micro entrepreneurs in the process. They took help from local administration as well to facilitate the services. To make the process easier, they have customised their apps to use local language and track locations where actual addresses do not exist.
Even big names like Amazon and Flipkart have started catering to the rural audience. Ramchandran tells that their target market is villages with population less than 30,000. They have their roots in 16 states from where they take their orders and have a supply reach in 8 lakh villages. It is startups like these that provide the hope of developing India.