Tech Talk: A startup does all for your home renovation

Updated May 19, 2019


The Pereiras seek to shake the foundations of the home renovation industry by digitising it.
The Pereiras seek to shake the foundations of the home renovation industry by digitising it.

Have you ever renovated your home? Finding the right paints, perfect tile fit and then the person to oversee everything doesn’t seem like the most convenient thing to me.

Enter, and it might just be.

EZMakaan is a Karachi-based startup for all things home. Whether you want to buy tiles for flooring the new home, or an oven to finally start baking, the website has you covered. Currently, they have products in nine categories, ranging from appliances and electronics to bathroom and sanitary.

It works like any other online retailer where you have to go to the website, select the stuff you need and place the order. They only deliver to Karachi through a mix of in-house and outsourced services, taking around one to two days with charges depending on the load. As for the inventory, EZMakaan doesn’t hold any of its own and instead relies on partner vendors and in some cases even brands themselves.

Like most online stores dealing with bulky orders, they don’t have any payment channel integrated on the portal, at least yet. “It’s all cash-on-delivery at the moment, which is actually preferred by most people in this segment at least,” says Chief Executive Officer Jason Pereira.

The startup was launched in November 2018 by Jason and Marilyn, who found shopping very hectic when setting up their new home as the couple had to run across the city for every little thing. “We realised this particular segment was largely not being served by e-commerce, so we wanted to tap into it,” recalls Jason.

Soon after, the two left their corporate jobs with Jason looking after operations and Marilyn, the marketing side of things.

Globally, online retail became successful partly because it kicked the middlemen out and was thus able to offer lower rates. EZMakaan, on the other hand, still depends a fair deal on vendors and that only adds another layer to the supply chain. From a customer’s viewpoint, why go for them in the first place? “Other than for the obvious convenience, there is also a high degree of opaqueness in this industry in terms of price with traditional players exercising considerable power over the customer. At the very least, we make it more transparent by putting everything online for the buyers to see and compare,” says Jason.

Continuing to rely on suppliers, however, must reduce the margins available to EZMakaan and thus their profitability. Would that prompt the new guy to put vendors out of work and at least try to grab the market all for itself? Not exactly! “The pie is too huge for all of us to feed on. What EZMakaan wants to do is give the same vendor an additional avenue to grow his business,” he adds.

Currently, the process is rather manual on the backend with each order directly conveyed to the vendor and payments done through CoD as well, which raises questions regarding the degree of automation for a tech startup.

“Unfortunately, most of our vendors — especially those in the sanitary for example — don’t even have computers and manage everything manually so introducing automation at this point won’t go down well. When all of them are ready to adopt tech, we would definitely like to switch to a marketplace model,” Jason says.

EZMakaan makes money on sales by charging a certain margin on each order through the difference between vendor and retail price, and according to the CEO, they are somewhere near breakeven. And unsurprisingly for such a young startup, it’s still bootstrapped with no plans of seeking funding in the short-term.

While the traditional home and appliances industry exists in pockets across different clusters — such as Saddar for electronics or Golimar for paints, some players have tried their luck in digitising it. Take TameerGhar for example, which sells construction materials over the internet with a lot of offerings overlapping with EZMakaan and has been in the game for a bit longer as well.

Then there is the broader e-commerce scene with companies like Daraz or HomeShopping that have made name in the electronics and appliances especially. How does the new kid make its way through?

“We want to be a one-stop shop in home renovation industry, covering all possible areas and eliminate the need of going to multiple stores or websites. This is in contrast to other players most of whom are mostly operating in different niches. Moreover, our portal goes beyond just goods and products as we are trying to bring on board professionals as well, such as architects and interior designers: basically anything relevant to home renovation,” says Marilyn.

The writer is member of staff:
Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019