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Rizwana Iqbal

Rizwana Iqbal is an Economics graduate and a former investment banker, now making a mark in the technology startup space. She is a writer, movie buff, football fanatic and singer from the heart.

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Just Buy Live : Empower Retailers to Dream Bigger by Bridging the Gap Between All Kinds of Stores and Every Brand

The app’s user-friendly interface maximises convenience, democratises product access and unlocks higher profits for retailers. For brands & manufacturers, it offers wider reach, unlimited scale and relevant data.

Launched in 2016, Just Buy Live is an e-distributor that empowers retailers by enabling them to buy goods directly from brands, while saving more through schemes and deals offered in real time. The app’s user-friendly interface maximises convenience, democratises product access and unlocks higher profits for retailers. For brands & manufacturers, it offers wider reach, unlimited scale and relevant data. 

Rizwana Iqbal interacts with Just Buy Live's Founders and spoke to them

What gave you the idea for Just Buy Live?

It was during Diwali, 2014 that most e-commerce players in India unleashed a torrent of discounts and promotions for consumers, enticing buyers from traditional retail towards e-tail. That was when the brick-and-mortar retailers were watching helplessly and wondering what to do. That was also when it hit me that technology empowers one and all, if used in one’s favour. I decided to use the same technology of instant-price discovery that side-lined the traditional retailers, to help and empower them instead. With over 15 years of on-ground experience, having brought international brands such as JBL and Harman/Kardon to India, I was aware of how the distribution network works in the country. Thus, the epiphany that the pricing models relevant for many decades were getting replaced with instant-price discovery made me and my partner Bharat Balachandran, who was an aggregator of loan products, establish an app for the traditional retail community, which we called Just Buy Live.

How did you come up with the name?

We wanted a name that was simple and globally acceptable.

As the first player in the so-called e-distribution space, how apprehensive were you?

Ask any entrepreneur if he gets apprehensive before starting a new business and the answer would be in the affirmative. So yes, we too were apprehensive to a level. But we were also optimistic. To become the first e-distributor of a Brand-to-Retail platform and to focus on selling to brick-and-mortar retailers was a herculean task. However, Just Buy Live was not only a novel model in India but also worldwide. We were replicating an entire process to adhere to our vision of helping the retail segment and were sure that it would work out sooner than later. Luckily for us, it worked out in our first attempt itself.

Could you please elaborate on how you add value to retailers and help them in managing their business more efficiently?

Just Buy Live was founded with a vision to become a mega e-distributor, while enabling traditional retailers, the aam dukandaar, to grow their businesses significantly with direct access to thousands of brands, millions of products and structured credit lines. Even the most successful international brands did not hit the jackpot by simply exporting products to India. They had to set up shop, hire locals and most importantly, adapt their business policies to suit the Indian population at the grassroots level. We do the same. We bring to the aam dukandaars, brands which were once inaccessible to them. We bring them products from competitive brands on one platform - the Just Buy Live app, where they don’t have to haggle with distributors. Now, they get the products at prices decided on by the brands directly, which is favourable both for the retailer and the brand. Now, they get better margins and offers due to Just Buy Live.

We also have various divisions that add value to retailers such as the structured credit solution ‘Udhaar’, exclusively for registered retailers on the app, through which they can buy products from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 2 crores and that too without any unnecessary collateral or overt paperwork. We have also rolled out a distinct insurance cover called ‘Suraksha’, which ensures the welfare of the retailers, their shops, and even their families. Just Buy Live has also launched ‘Suvidhaa’, which provides a one-stop solution to set up point-of-sale systems, providing retailers easy ways of accepting card and mobile payments.

You are innovating in every step of the distribution chain through technology. Could you please give our readers a sense of how you are transforming this sector?

From my observations on the mom-and-pop retailers abroad, I had learnt that technology does not alienate retailers, rather it empowers them. Even in India, it was technology, which was the primary driver for a shift in consumer preferences. We gave power back to the aam dukandaar. Just Buy Live offers a technology platform that provides traditional retailers and institutional buyers unfettered access to consumer brands. Ours is a back-end chain offering a solution to mom-and-pop stores to buy food, beverages, stationery, pharmaceutical products, mobile and electronic products and so on. With technology, we ensure the efficiency of the entire back-end operations. And with higher margins, retailers are now able to compete better with e-tailers, who largely bank on discount-models for their operations.

What are the major challenges that you faced or are facing?

The real challenge was in convincing retailers of this seemingly clear-cut value proposition. We decided to approach them slightly differently with a hybrid model first, by deploying feet-on-street teams, approaching retailers personally, helping them understand Just Buy Live and assisting them in setting up their profiles, and teaching them how to use it.

If not an entrepreneur, what would you be?

A teacher.

What can we expect to see in the future from Just Buy Live (as a company) and from you (as an entrepreneur)?

Well, Just Buy Live is a massive disruptor. We will continue to push through the boundaries set by others.

What are the key steps that you adhere to when launching a new city?

We ensure all our teams – direct marketing, app management, analytics, technology etc. are completely geared up and ready to take on a new city. Preparedness is the key to success.

How has the consumer feedback been?

Our consumers are retailers and they are enjoying the facilities we offer. We are proving that technology based distribution is more efficient.

Which has been the most rewarding moment in your journey of building Just Buy Live? In 5 words, define the culture of Just Buy Live?

The most rewarding moment was our very first order on the Just Buy Live app!

Pathbreaking, Tough, Ambitious and Fearless – This is how I would define the culture of Just Buy Live.

Which is the one value in your firm that you are proud of and which value you still wish you could instil in your employees?

I am proud of our fearlessness and I wish for compassion in my employees.

If you had a week with unlimited money what would you do?

Hire a rocket and fly to the moon and back.

What are you afraid of?

Honestly nothing. Try me.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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