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A group of entrepreneurs in India noticed a significant gap in the e-commerce space, and they hoped to be the first to penetrate it. Since most online retailers focused on big-ticket items at the time, nobody had cracked the grocery store market—leaving the opportunity wide open.

Technology Stack

With this in mind, several founders formed a startup called Finescribe Business Solutions. Then they set out to make a mobile-first e-commerce experience connecting shoppers with local grocery stores and supermarkets. They called the app Parchuni based on the Hindi word “parchun,” which means “grocery.”

The client initially set out to build their back-end platform on Magento, using the multi-vendor extension as the foundation for their marketplace. As they searched for a mobile app developer, they began onboarding grocery stores and populating their database with products to sell.

The challenge? The founders realized that almost every local store had custom packaging for many of the products they sold. This meant they needed to find a way to display each item as a variation of a core grocery product. With thousands of product variations in the database, the existing platform would struggle.

They also quickly realized that they would need to create two separate mobile apps for the same platform, one for buyers and another for sellers. They also realized they needed to rethink the platform’s fundamental architecture if they wanted to be successful.

Results

Net Solutions built a powerful platform that allowed Indian grocers to sell and deliver their products to local shoppers.

  • Grocery stores received a dedicated seller app, with a powerful back end, to manage every aspect of their online store for easy updating, commission calculations, and comprehensive reporting.
  • Shoppers received a dedicated buyer’s app that displayed hyper-local products and deals based on their postal code.
  • The platform experienced rapid growth, and scaling was smooth thanks to Net Solutions’ careful planning and thoughtful execution.

Rethinking the Architecture +
Finding the Right Partner

Re-architecting the platform meant they needed an experienced mobile app developer—but not just any developer. They needed a partner with the experience and skillset to redesign the custom back end that respected the rules they tailored to their unique business model. That’s when they reached out to Net Solutions.

Net Solutions stood out in a crowded field of vendors since they had extensive experience building scalable custom e-commerce stores, including one for Euro Car Parts that featured a host of unique demands and intricate rules.

Parchuni’s founders asked the Net Solution’s team challenging questions, and Net Solutions demonstrated expertise and long-term thinking. Convinced that Net Solutions had the right mix of ingenuity, experience, and talent to bring Parchuni to life and future-proof the platform, the founders tasked them with building the mobile-first apps.

Parchuni’s Unique Demands and Innovative Features

Parchuni’s Unique Demands and Innovative Features

Parchuni had several unique demands. Fortunately, Net Solutions had been around the block more than a few times when it came to solving complex problems for innovative e-commerce platforms.

To address some of those challenges and create two world-class apps (one for buyers, another for sellers), Net Solutions’ engineers came up with the following solutions.

A Powerful Back End to Accommodate Numerous Complexities

Although Magento designed its multi-vendor platform to connect numerous vendors to a single, online marketplace, the out-of-the-box solution would not have been able to handle the sheer volume of products that Parchuni needed to import. Needless to say, scaling such a system would have proven extremely difficult.

The Net Solutions back-end team worked with the client to map out the requirements for a Java-based custom back end that stored the data in a MongoDB instance. This allowed it to cater to the core business model where a grocery store could exclusively service a specific postal code. It also provided highly scalable architecture that ran fast and had features like complex product associations—enabling vendor-specific customizations for things like rates and delivery methods.

Easy Importing for Key Product Data

Easy Importing for Key
Product Data

Net Solutions also ensured that the back end could easily and efficiently accommodate product updates and specifications. All the grocers needed was a data file (CSV) template where they could create lists of products, allowing for:

  • Easy importing into the back end
  • Efficient updating for products marked as “New”—which they could highlight as such in the buyer app
  • Easy changes to existing prices when sellers wanted to highlight discounts and special deals. Buyers could then search for products that were on sale using a simple filter.

Going to Market Faster—
with RESTheart API

The Net Solutions team was able to take the product to market faster (and at a lower cost) by using RESTheart to provide the API layer rather than building a custom API. By simply routing API calls through their interface, the RESTheart service automatically translated requests to the MongoDB database. This had an added advantage later since any changes in the database schema only required corresponding changes to the API requests. Plus, there was no need to modify the API itself.

A Highly Useable Buyer App

Net Solutions built the buyer app to display products available in local stores based on the user’s postal code. The users could either pay online or select a Cash-on-Delivery (CoD) option, which was popular in India. They could then track the status of their order directly from the app.

A Seller App Designed for Control and Easy Updating

The seller app updated grocers when a user placed an order. If a product was unavailable, they could update the order, and the total cost would update automatically. Delivery staff would then collect and deliver the order, updating its status directly from the app.

Net Solutions also designed the seller app to specify which stores or products served a given postal code, granting grocers complete control over the areas where they marketed their goods.

Commission Calculations

The platform earned commissions based on customer order values. The commissions kicked in at a certain threshold specified by each store’s contract. The app calculated commissions automatically, displaying them to the staff and the vendor directly on their app. Any vendor could pay commissions from within the app or by using their preferred payment method.

Comprehensive Reporting

The back end featured comprehensive reporting along with vendor onboarding and postal code management. The reports showed a range of critical data, such as:

  • Sales volumes
  • Order statuses
  • Purchase values
  • Vendor statuses
  • Traffic data
  • And much more

Parchuni’s reporting system allowed admins to keep a close eye on important metrics and directly evaluate the value that the platform delivered.

Launch & Rapid Growth

Launch & Rapid Growth

Parchuni’s unique, innovative UI and features helped the sales staff quickly onboard a range of leading grocery stores in every city the startup intended to serve. This led to rapid growth, and since Net Solutions built Parchuni for seamlessly scaling, their clients were able to dominate the previously untapped grocery delivery market in India.

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