An introduction to the fast growing Zifiti (www.zifiti.com), a marketplace platform that allows retailers and wholesalers to reach the over three million U.S.-based Indian Diaspora to sell anything from groceries, apparel, jewelry and furniture, as well as restaurant prepared meals for local pickup or delivery, was held at the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce, Edison, New Jersey, on April 26.
Zifiti.com is a venture launched by the trio of Shinu Gupta, Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Kurt Olender.
Gupta is a successful serial entrepreneur and former Wall Street executive who has been on the forefront of ecommerce and business automation since the earliest days of the commercial Internet.
Dr. Parikh is the owner of Parikh Worldwide Media – the largest Indian- American media publishing house in North America (which also brings out News India Times and Desi Talk newspapers). Olender is a renowned corporate attorney who has represented hundreds of startups and late stage companies from inception through successful sale and owns and operates a number of companies in addition to his law firm.
The mission of Zifiti is to bring marketers of Indian products in the U.S. and those dealing in high-end products from India to a one-stop shopping mall online. Products available would range, eventually, to even cars and homes. It would give flexibility to manufacturers and sellers, and enable free shipping from India to the United States and within North America.
“We want to reach out to the constantly expanding Indian and South Asian diaspora in the Western Hemisphere, and the South Asian Subcontinent with everything they need,” said Dr. Parikh, recipient of India’s Padma Shri award, earlier. “We want them to take advantage of our platform. And we want to provide at home that we like to buy when we visit India.”
Zifiti is focusing initially on the $1 billion dollar Indian grocery and food market. It is already online with a Wisconsin-based partner “IShopIndian,” and expects to sign on multiple food sellers in the near future, Gupta said.
In his presentation at the introduction, Gupta explained that Zifiti was an excellent way to promote products and services to the three million Indians living in the U.S., and be a part of $1 billion Indian grocery market in the U.S.
Gupta explained that Zifiti came up with the numbers going by the fact that there are one million Indian households, and each household if they were to spend just $25 per week on Indian groceries, would constitute that $1 billion market.
ZiFiti takes 10 percent commission on any product which is sold on the site, with the seller receiving 90 percent of the transaction price.
There was great advertising opportunities for sellers, he said, adding that in the future there would be food delivery service too – an “UberEats” / “GrubHub” for Indian Restaurants’ as well as fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service – a “Blue Apron” to cook Indian meals at home with everything you need.
Plans also include attracting those interested in South Asian cuisine – how-to cook, where to get the ingredients, demonstrations by famous chefs, cooking shows, among others.
In an interview to News India Times, Gupta said that he was confident Zifiti would be a hit with both sellers and buyers, in the US.
“There are not too many players out there, as far as competition is concerned. The question we have tried to solve, is, how do you bring everyone together, for Indian products, buyers and sellers. The big stores who sell Indian groceries are only in the traditional business, they are not in e-commerce,” said Gupta.
Asked how he planned to penetrate markets where there are Indian stores for consumers to frequent, Gupta cited the example of Home Depot, located approximately every five miles across the U.S. According to him, that didn’t stop people from going online to buy similar products as those sold at Home Depot.
“It’s a matter of convenience, and the question of how many people enjoy doing groceries. If one can get the same products for the same price, then they will see the value of Zifiti,” said Gupta, adding that even in a place like Jersey City, there are certain locations, like the financial district, where there’s a lack of Indian stores nearby.
Gupta also revealed that Zifiti plans to go global in the future, to places where there is a large concentration of Indian Diaspora.
“We have plans to launch in other countries, like Australia, Middle East, and others,” he said.
Gupta also said that he plans to convince the 20,000 sellers from India on Amazon India, to get on board on Zifiti.
“People don’t think of buying Haldiram Bhujiya on Amazon,” said Gupta. “That’s where Zifiti comes in.”