WholeMark has raised $1 million in Seed Funding. The Hyderabad-based startup is an eCommerce Fulfillment company offering Micro Warehousing and under 3-hour Delivery service to the D2C brands.
WholeMark will use the fresh funds to expand into other regions, acquire new D2C clients, invest in technology and hire talent, founder Pranay Ganesh Koneni said.
Founded in 2021 by Pranay Ganesh Koneni, Laxmi Priya Guttikonda, Srinith Madapathi, WholeMark (wholemark.in) offers its clients – direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands – a seamless fulfillment service which includes stress-free integration with eCommerce platforms, data-driven micro warehousing, and under 3 hour last mile delivery, enabling the D2C brands to offer Amazon Prime like services to their customers.
D2C market size in India currently is $30+ billion, growing at a CAGR of 25% to become a $100+ billion market by 2025. Any brand which sells a product directly to consumers without the involvement of an intermediary is recognized as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand. For a D2C brand, the margins are relatively higher and their digital-first approach links them directly to the end consumers for a long term business relationship. For these reasons, more and more brands have started moving towards direct-to-consumer sales, most of them selling their products only via eCommerce.
While eCommerce platforms and marketing tools help in generating online orders, fulfilling those orders through a consolidated pipeline which includes picking, packing, and delivering is a challenging task. Selling products on multiple eCommerce platforms/online sales channels adds further complexity to the fulfillment process. Hence, a seamless eCommerce fulfillment service becomes critically important for the success of a fast growing D2C brand. A good post purchase experience increases customer satisfaction which in turn increases the retention rate and repeat order rate.
WholeMark’s unified technology platform with Inventory Management, Order Management, Warehouse Management, and Delivery Management capabilities will ensure that customers of the D2C brand ordering the products online will enjoy ultra fast deliveries.
As of today, WholeMark is offering under 3 hour delivery in major metropolitan cities and standard shipping across India. The D2C brands are charged INR 60* per order fulfilled on a pay-per-use pricing model which includes micro-warehousing and last mile delivery service.
Founders Story :
Pranay and Srinith have been best friends since elementary school. They worked on several academic projects together in school. In 2016, after pursuing undergrad from different colleges, they came together to set up a Coffee Shop franchise business inspired by Starbucks. On the weekends, they’d work on a social impact project at an NGO, where they aimed to enhance scientific curiosity among economically disadvantaged students.
In 2018, Srinith & Priya started a bubble-tea and french-fries based franchise business called “Bubble Frites”, worked on it for two years, expanded to several stores, and exited in 2020. After that, all three of them together started-up with “Her Market Space” to solve the problem for female entrepreneurs in marketing and distributing their products to the brick-n-mortar retail market. Later, they pivoted to B2B eCommerce to solve the same problem for all the MSMEs and SMBs in India. In 2021, they pivoted again to eCommerce fulfillment (WholeMark) after COVID’s 2nd wave in India affected most of the brick-n-mortar businesses.
WholeMark Journey :
After exiting from their previous startup idea, they contacted about 300 D2C brands, interviewing 72 digital-first fast-growing brands to understand how they could support the brands in their growth. Though initially inclined towards pivoting to B2C eCommerce, they soon realized that brands have abundant resources to sell their products directly to end-consumers. However, they identified that fulfillment of online orders was expensive and delivery times were unreasonably longer.
The primary reasons driving up the cost of fulfillment and delivery times for the D2C brands are fragmented services from multiple 3PLs without tech integrations and centralized warehousing. The three co-founders decided to solve this problem by microwarehousing the stock in the network of “Dark Stores” located strategically close to the end-consumers based on the demand forecast and delivering the products to the end-consumers from the nearest dark store in under 3 hours from placing the online order.
To prototype the solution, the three co-founders first temporarily turned their office room in Hyderabad, which was located in a residential area, into a dark store and hired a couple of delivery agents. With this setup, they offered the fulfillment service for a few pin codes in the neighborhood at discounted pricing to the initial clients (D2C brands). They manually analyzed the order data of the brands, warehoused the stock, and started delivering to the pin codes in the neighborhoods. They managed to reduce the delivery time for online orders of their clients from more than 3 days to under 3 hours and reduced the fulfillment cost by about 50%. Since then, WholeMark has grown 10x serving several D2C brands across India in the last 9 months.