Bridging the gap between essential supply and demand in both B2B and B2C segments involves leveraging advanced logistics and supply chain technologies to ensure timely delivery and fulfillment. By optimizing inventory management and enhancing distribution networks, businesses can meet consumer needs efficiently while fostering stronger relationships with suppliers and customers alike – an insight 1Pharmacy Network leveraged into a successful business.

The startup 

Conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown days, 1Pharmacy Network  (1P) is an eCommerce platform in both B2B and B2C segment. During the tough days of the pandemic, the founders: Arjun Santhanakrishnan, Kashyap Nikhil and Kota Rathnamaiah Sharath Kumar, wanted to apply their software solutioning expertise towards bridging the gap in the demand and supply of essentials. Instead of developing another app, they built a simple web tool connecting consumers to their neighbourhood stores – this effort was later enhanced with a chatbot built in-house over WhatsApp.

Sharath Kumar, 1P co-founder says:

If we look at the pharma retailers, they were amongst the first ones in India to have embraced technology for managing stores, their computer proliferation having started in the late 90s. At that time they were the only adopters of computers but, for whatever reason, the technology progression did not happen. That is why we saw an opportunity in building a new age ERP tool to manage the entire stack of pharmacists, including their order management. We were one of the first mobile ERPs in India that came out – coincidentally, we never planned for it.

On the B2B front, 1P provides end-to-end software solution for running a retail store in India. And the market is untapped – as of 2020 India had around eight lakh retail pharmacies and the number is estimated to be around 12 lakhs as of 2022.

For the end customers, 1P aims to be a global platform providing instant retail delivery at a hyper-local scale, delivering daily essentials at doorsteps within 20 minutes. They source items locally, from the trustworthy neighbourhood store with transparent delivery systems showing every step.

1P is currently operating in 4 cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mysore, and Lucknow with a network of 2600+ retail shops.

Sharath Kumar

Sharath Kumar, Co-Founder, 1Pharmacy 

The solution

WhatsApp had always been an integral aspect of their solution: being a very familiar tool with non-technical users it had given them a lot of traction. For the retailers in their network it became somewhat of an ERP tool – rather than going to any mobile app, the retailers prefer to stay on the mini chatbot that they have made on WhatsApp and get the status of their orders from wholesalers.

1P is currently discussing their B2B offerings with Meta: scaling the retailers’ business by allowing them to send promotional messages, automate payments, displaying product/services catalogues, and sharing delivery flows.

The lighter version of their ERP is now available on WhatsApp, allowing them to layer their offering without users needing to know anything about technology. They can get started with just a WhatsApp for basic usage to monitor any payment notifications, reminders, expiry & stock management.

The Tribe

Sharat explains:

We were looking out for a new vendor to help us with WhatsApp since we were facing latency and, occasionally, downtime issues. Infobip came through recommendation, we looked it up and fortunately came across their startup program, the Infobip Startup Tribe, providing us with free product credits to test and integrate their solution. Since then our uptime has been close to 100%. Infobip’s well-engineered product has a great API interface, their system being one of the best out there. If someone is looking for a good technical product, then Infobip should be on their vendor list.

Infobip helped 1P with a seamless and smooth user experience by securing a conversational interface with no or limited jitters, low latency, high responsiveness, no downtime, and an over all great user experience. We were facing latency and uptime issues (~90%) and decided to change vendors.

The takeaway

1P is now on a trajectory of expanding to the entire retail sector; India has around 2.3 crore Retailers & SMB businesses and they will be looking at Infobip to generate value for their customers. Using the NLP based Conversations product is the next step.

Seeing how a minimalistic approach worked for 1P, Sharat suggests fellow founders to try it out too.

We are used to seeing a complete new product and think we need to do the same in order to succeed. However, from my experience that is not true: we are over-burdened as it is. Often a simple solution is all it takes, like the combination of a web tool and WhatsApp we developed. Secondly, choosing a good solution provider, like Infobip, will help you with the aspect of unpredictability.


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