Updated: Jul 22, 2021
Before jumping to any kind of judgement, let me briefly introduce you to Meesho. Headquartered in Bengaluru, Meesho operates as an online reselling platform that enables anyone to start a business without investment. Founded by 2 IIT Delhi graduates in 2015, it became India’s first startup to receive investment from Facebook within just 4 years of its operation. But putting their credentials aside, does Meesho actually empower sellers to sustain their business on its platform? Well, from my experience of 2 years selling clothing for resellers , I would say that’s far from reality.
While the onboarding process to become a seller on Meesho is fairly easy, their team hardly offers any assistance post this job. Initially, the company charged a 15% commission and gradually they increased it to 25% (assuring the sellers that they would not be subjected to any kind of additional charges). However, for the end customer, the cumulative price became inclusive of production cost, Meesho’s soaring high commission and the meagre profit of the seller. This model obviously didn’t succeed as those customers had an option to divert to more affordable platforms. So, Meesho went to charge 15% again, then decreased it to 8%, again decreased it to 3% and finally to 1.3 %. You may think this is a negligible amount, but that’s where most sellers get it wrong. Because how can a company survive just on this scant commission? The answer is here:
i) On average, there are about 25% to 30% of products that come back on this platform. The return courier charge for products below 500 gm is ₹166 per piece, which of course the poor seller has to bear. Now let’s do some quick math! Assuming that the profit margin for sellers here is between ₹100 to ₹150 if 1/3rd of items are returned then the profit margin for the remaining 2 delivered products also comes down. The actual profit then received would only be ₹20 - ₹70 after putting up with courier charges of undelivered items.
ii) Packaging & printing cost around ₹10 - ₹12 per product. Sellers also need to bear this cost for all the undelivered products, which leads to a dip in their profit margin again.
iii) Besides enduring the cost, dealing with those undelivered products also becomes taxing for sellers because Meesho has not tied up with any reputed courier service. As a result, items are not sent back on time, taking as long as 2 months in some cases. By the time they come back to the seller, it’s either not in original condition or is out of trend. The most irksome part of this entire process is that you won’t even get what you had sent to the customer. More often than not, the product is swapped when it is returned to the seller and the company hardly cares even when there is evidence to counter it. When the seller claims for their wrongly returned items, Meesho will either approve or disapprove it on a random basis. Even when it’s approved, you will have to constantly remind them to settle your payment. After some point, you will simply get this answer from their team;
"Based on past data, we have observed that the ratio of claims raised by you against your returns have been significantly higher than our overall platform levels. Due to this, we would not be able to process the claim against this order”.
This straight-up makes the very seller a suspect in the company's eyes and seems to be at fault for insisting on a fair request.
iv) Meesho and its courier partners are least bothered to even intimate on the items that are delivered back to the seller. So, you have to check all your listings almost every day without fail. If you miss out, then the item will be shown delivered on their platform without it even reaching your doorstep. If you don't inform them about this incorrect delivery status within 14 days, it will be a complete loss.
Unfortunately, I was dismayed by the same thing recently during the second lockdown. Since every trade & commerce activity was at a standstill in the city, I didn’t check my listings at the time assuming Meesho too would not be operating. Alas! I was wrong. To my surprise, their courier partner showed many of my products delivered on 28th April, despite it being the day when the lockdown was started. I happened to check about this on 13th May and informed them about the mistake. But they let me down again and denied this being done. Kudos to their team for apparently sending products even when the whole city was under lockdown and forging my delivery status!
Moreover, talking to their customer support team is like hitting your head against the wall. The only way to reach them is through Email as they don’t have any customer care number. Sadly, now they have discontinued this service as well to avoid confrontations from the customers. At present, they just have a so-called support feature on their portal. On raising a problem here, you will only receive an unsympathetic copied answer after 2-3 business days, probably that too without any solution.
Even on their RTO/Return Portal, you won’t be able to find the Order ID from which the customer has ordered. Advanced filters are needed to be used for this and you might likely miss out on something amidst these complications.
v) Lastly, the sellers will be provided with an Excel sheet on their portal only for the products that are sold. If any product is returned to the origin on account of the wrong address, the customer not accepting/cancelling it or the courier partner not approaching the customer, Meesho will consider all these as cancelled orders and will not show it in that sheet. Now the onus of checking each manifest comes down to the seller and they have to ensure if all undelivered items are received back properly. Failing to do so within 14 days, the seller has to bear the loss, yet again!
Meesho seems to only have an interest in delivered and Returned products (customer rejecting after opening) where they can charge commission or penalty. I believe if they don't change their policies, sellers may switch to competitors who provide better service. My only intention to share this is if you are thinking of becoming a seller on Meesho, then please consider all these factors. Initially, you may feel that these hiccups will be manageable if the profit margin is kept higher. But I just want to remind you again that this is a reseller platform, where resellers also add their margin and Meesho itself adds delivery charges of around ₹100. Keep in mind that for that reseller, there is no risk as they will get the commission once the item is delivered and not returned, but the seller has to keep up with the troublesome structure of doing business here.
Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion from my experience as a seller on this platform. Your opinion and experience may be different. Kindly share your thoughts in the comments below.