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A younger Indian rival believes it can beat Shopify everywhere in the world

REUTERS/Chris Wattie
The competition.
  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Published

This post has been updated.

Shopify, the online store builder for e-commerce companies, has been around for almost 16 years, making it one of the oldest firms in the segment. Such longevity, though, is more of a liability, according to a younger Indian rival of the company.

Born as late as 2020, during the pandemic, Dukaan is already confident of beating Shopify anywhere in the world.

The Canadian behemoth, meanwhile, has faced “a serious performance problem,” according to Dukaan co-founder and chief technology officer Subhash Choudhary. Shopify’s performance appears especially sluggish in India, compared to its home turf Canada, he pointed out. In fact, he claims this is true everywhere.

“Shopify’s advantage is that it has built a huge ecosystem,” Choudhary told Quartz over the phone. “But its disadvantage is that it built a product 15 years ago which is no longer relevant today.”

The Bengaluru-based Dukaan, backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners among others, claims that more than 1,000 premium direct-to-consumer brands already use its platform.

It is now looking to expand globally—and all at once. But the gap it must bridge is big. Shopify, after all, is a $48 billion company with 1.75 million merchants using it.

Dukaan takes on Shopify globally

The Indian company, which started out by building digital storefronts for smaller players, later added payment gateways and logistics to make an all-encompassing enterprise solution. Now, even bigger brands like Ginnie & Johnny and Jockey use Dukaan to sell online.

Choudhary believes this made-in-India commerce, payment, and logistics stack can be “easily replicated” in both developing and developed countries.

“The only thing we have to solve is how do we replace the payment players (in India) with their payment players and how do we replace the logistics players with their logistics players,” he told Quartz. “Since everything we’ve built is plug and play, we just have to change some APIs, which is easy for us to do.”

Since a soft launch beta testing around the world began a couple of weeks ago, there have been teething issues. For instance, the company didn’t have a support crew for startups from Zimbabwe, and when one tried to get on the platform, the currency formatting at payment was off.

Similarly, in parts of west Asia, the address format varies from much of the world, calling for the checkout page to dynamically change. And then there’s a language-translation challenge it is yet to solve.

Growing pains

Dukaan’s 200-person team—around 60-65 of which are in engineering, tech, and product roles—has been slogging round the clock to fix the problems in real-time wherever possible. While the onslaught of requests is high, Dukaan would rather the barrage comes all at once.

For one, the tech company is not putting people on the ground physically. “For me, putting people everywhere is about building support (in India), which is very affordable right now,” Choudhary explained. Even US-based firms set up support teams in India because it has a “huge cost advantage” when it comes to tech talent.

Moreover, Dukaan is relying on feedback to improve its product and doesn’t want to do that slowly, over months, by attending to one country at a time. “We’re telling customers this (feature) is what we have, this is what we don’t have, and then there are things we don’t even know we don’t have, so we want them to write to us and share their thoughts.”

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