In a country where e-commerce remains relatively nascent (despite more than 450 million internet users) and delivery logistics imposingly difficult, Bengaluru, India-based social commerce platform Meesho has managed to turn more than 2 million people into digital shopkeepers. The app lets users build curated online stores by selecting merchandise from more than 21,000 small and medium suppliers, which offer apparel, jewelry, and new product categories such as home and kitchen. Users can then market these goods to their personal networks through Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. (Meesho takes a 10% to 20% sales commission.)
Many of Meesho’s resellers are homemakers in India who use the app to achieve financial freedom without leaving the house. These budding entrepreneurs “do not have the capital to purchase raw materials to get [a boutique] off the ground,” says cofounder and co-CEO Vidit Aatrey. Meesho merchants don’t have to carry inventory; suppliers drop-ship items after they’re ordered. Resellers also have the ability to send payment links directly through social media, most notably WhatsApp, which has more than 400 million users in India. The four-year-old company has been growing quickly (alongside India’s burgeoning 4G infrastructure): It currently has 2 million resellers and a presence in 700 cities and towns across India and Indonesia.
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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.