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Zomato for fashion, Zakoopi aggregates offline clothing stores under one digital roof Zakoopi is transforming the traditional 'word of mouth' way of offline fashion shopping.

By Samiksha Jain

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In today's day and age start-ups are mushrooming at a rapid pace across all sectors. They are emerging with innovative ideas to make everyone's life easy and simple. But, when it comes to fashion most of the start-ups like Wooplr, Roposo and Limeroad are more focussed on product discovery where they enable users to view and shop for the listed products on their websites. They put more emphasis on popular brands that already have an active online presence. When it comes to the online discovery of local apparel stores for shopping, there is not many options available to the masses. Zakoopi, an online aggregator of offline stores, is plugging this market gap and transforming the traditional "word of mouth' way of offline fashion shopping into something big.

So how did it start?

Founded in November 2014, by Shashank Agnihotri and Samik Sarkar, Zakoopi got its ideation when Agnihotri assisted a friend in his wedding shopping and they faced the difficult task of zeroing down on an offline store to shop from. He perceived the potential of the unorganized brick and mortar fashion market in India, which works predominantly on "word of mouth' recommendations. Understanding this need, Agnihotri started to work towards building an online apparel store discovery platform.

"There are lot of boutiques and small designer store who can give you better designer clothes than the branded stores at half the price. But, the most difficult part is to locate these stores. Zakoopi is a platform, which approximately looks at 5,000 stores in the city that enable people to discover great places to shop from. These stores are located around them and are segregated on the basis of store reviews, ratings, photographs, product catalogue, pricing details, etc," said Samik Sarkar, Co-founder, Zakoopi.

Agnihotri comes with an investment banking and consulting experience with Essar and Feedback Ventures, respectively whereas Sarkar brings on board his technology and consultancy experience from Cognizant and Feedback Ventures.

What Zakoopi is all about?

As said before, Zakoopi enables shoppers and fashionistas, to discover places to shop around them on the basis of store reviews, ratings, photographs, product catalogue, pricing details, etc. The platform aids a user by providing them tips on fashion and apparel shopping from real fashionistas. It further provides them with store recommendations by reviews and ratings given by other users.

Funds Ahoy

The budding start-up has added another feather in their hat by securing $350 K from Harminder Sahni, a veteran of India's retail industry, and Uniqorn Ventures, a seed & early stage venture fund. Investors found the start-up really innovate as it is connecting shoppers with local apparel stores, which are less known due to limited online activity.

Commenting on the investment, Sarkar said, "Today there are platforms like Zomato, BookmyShow and TripAdvisor, which allow people to discover restaurants, events or hotels. However, people draw a blank when it comes to the online discovery of local apparel stores for shopping. Zakoopi is an online aggregator of offline stores. Investors were really excited to get something like this, which acts as an aggregator to help people to discover better place to shop based on user generated reviews."

The road ahead

The size of the Indian unorganized fashion space at present is close to $ 60-70 billion. Through this product, this start-up is blurring the lines between the organized and unorganized fashion space in India. It has brought big and small, unbranded and branded fashion retailers on a single online platform. It is letting smaller retailers that lacked digital presence to compete with bigger brands on the basis of quality of their products. The much needed exposure is given to offline stores on the digital platform.

Today, with over 15,000 users per month, Zakoopi is witnessing a 10 percent increase in the user base on a weekly basis. Within a span of ten months, Zakoopi has integrated more than 7,000 stores across Delhi NCR & Mumbai, along with mapping the various store attributes. With more than lakh user generated reviews and ratings for these stores; the platform provides immense value to users looking for genuine shopping support.

Currently operating in Delhi and Mumbai, Zakoopi is ready to deploy its product in Kolkata in the coming week. They will further expand the reach to other cities like Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Pune, soon.

"We have a city based model and we are aiming to target 15-20 cities by next year. Further, we are also planning to reach 1 lakh user generated reviews by next year."

Samiksha Jain

Former Staff, Entrepreneur.com

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