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We’ll Focus On Getting More Brands On Board From Tier 2-3 Cities: Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce

We want to be part of the country’s digital revolution and enable retailers in automating their supply- chain, and have four key focus areas of expansion

How has the E-commerce sector evolved in the past 10 years from your lens and what does the future look like?

India’s e-commerce industry is set to become the fastest-growing e-commerce market in the world, buoyed by the increased availability of smartphones, changing consumer behavior, and rise in consumer purchasing power. Currently, e-commerce accounts for 8% of the overall retail, and this number is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

Looking back, e-commerce in India went mainstream post-launch of Flipkart in 2007, when the company started by delivering books to consumers. Interestingly, around the same time, BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip were gaining popularity in another niche segment of online ticket booking. By 2013, the e-commerce industry started booming steadily and people were getting used

to the idea of ordering things online. Amazon entered India in the same year and revolutionized the dynamics of e-commerce completely by popularizing the concept of online marketplaces.

As the industry was evolving with big e-commerce players selling everything under the sun, there was another emerging trend of vertical e-commerce on the horizon. This entailed companies focussing on selling niche products or services. Myntra, Lenskart, Firstcry, Nykaa, Urban Ladder, Zivame are some of the prime examples of vertical e-commerce

From early 2020, especially after the pandemic hit the world, we have been witnessing the mushrooming of D2C brands within the e-commerce ecosystem. From individual sellers to SMEs to FMCG conglomerates, companies are taking the direct-to-consumer route to gain better control over their brand image and establish long-lasting relationships with their customers. When it comes to sectors, categories such as FMCG, personal care, beauty, and hygiene are becoming an integral part of e-commerce. Interestingly, new-commerce channels such as social commerce, WhatsApp commerce, and AI-based conversational chatbots are coming into the picture and driving the growth of e-commerce in India.

As e-commerce in India becomes more mature, we expect to see the rising adoption of omnichannel, with companies looking for the right mix of offline and online channels to ensure customers get a consistent shopping experience across platforms. Another trend that’s going to disrupt the retail industry is the increasing prominence of B2B e-commerce. Increasing smartphone penetration and technology adoption and success of B2C e-commerce has led to an increase in acceptance of e-commerce in B2B businesses as well. B2B e-commerce enables effective digital supply chains and higher capital efficiencies, making it a viable option. Indian startups like Udaan, ShopX, Ninjacart, Indiamart, and Moglix, are trying to digitize the wholesale supply chain in India.

How did Unicommerce come into existence? Also, give us a brief about your business model?

As e-commerce gained traction in India, it was becoming next to impossible for e-commerce players to manage their business operations manually or with traditional software designed for offline retail. Keeping this thought in mind, Unicommerce was launched in 2012, to act as a middleware solution that helps e-tailers and e-commerce companies in managing all e-commerce supply-chain operations on a single platform. We are the pioneers of building indigenous inventory management, order management, warehouse management designed specifically to meet the e-commerce needs of e-tailers across India.

Unicommerce’s solutions have been witnessing a high demand from SME sellers and new-age D2C companies, e-commerce marketplaces, as well as global brands. We work with some of the leading e-tailers and marketplaces across all the sectors. Some of the key client of Unicommerce are Jack and Jones, Myntra, Adidas, Vero Moda, Sugar Cosmetics, Mama Earth, Plum Marico, Emami, Healthkart, Netmeds, Agrostar amongst other leading brands. Unicommerce works with 15,000+ registered customers present across India, South East Asia, and the Middle East.

Unicommerce works on a subscription and usage fee model, wherein clients pay us a monthly subscription fee for our solution and include certain transactions for free. In case the transaction quota is exhausted, a usage-based fee is charged based on the transactions processed on the platform. This provides greater flexibility to our clients, allowing them to easily upscale and downscale their operations based on demand fluctuations.

How are you different from the existing competitors? What technology solutions does Unicommerce provide to its clientele? And how is it helping them?

Unicommerce has built best-in-class technology solutions that help retail brands and e-commerce players manage supply chain operations efficiently and improve business productivity. It not only allows sellers to scale up their business across multiple sales platforms (marketplaces and websites), but also helps in managing the operations efficiently thus ensuring stronger unit economics. Some of our clients have reported 8-10X growth in just a period of 4-5 quarters.

Here is a list of multiple solutions provided by Unicommerce

· Order management – Order management solutions enable quick order processing by integrating all sales channels into one single platform. It also helps in automatically allocating orders to the right fulfillment source based on various criterias specified by sellers. An average e-tailer using Unicommerce sells on 7-8 marketplaces and is able to process 100 orders in less than 10 minutes (as opposed to spending 4-5 hours when processing those orders manually)

· Inventory management Solution– The inventory management solution provides a centralized inventory view across all marketplaces and websites so that the brands can get sales for every unit in the inventory, leading to higher business growth. Our solution can be used by any business, irrespective of the industry and size of operations. The platform currently manages inventory and catalog for over 90 Mn SKUs

· Warehouse management solution – Our warehouse management solution manages the workflows of the warehouse from picking, packing, dispatch to how goods are received from the suppliers in the warehouse. It helps in centralizing all crucial tasks and also offer location-allocation for companies with multiple warehouse. The platform has been deployed across 6000+ warehouses already, of varying sizes ranging from 3000 sq. ft. to 1 lakh sq. ft. warehouses as well

· Omnichannel Solution– The Omnichannel solution provides an instantaneous and centralized cross-channel order and inventory management dashboard by merging all offline and online sales channels to help the company optimize logistic cost and enhance customer experience. The solution already has plug and play integrations with 8+ leading Point of Sale providers and has been deployed at 1500+ stores already

· Return Management solutions- Unicommerce has designed this unique solution specifically to empower e-tailers with technology to solve the problem of high return volume and reduce the cost associated with it, thus directly helping the companies improve their bottom line. On average, an e-tailer is able to reduce the returns by at least 25% after deploying this solution

Unicommerce helps its clients in elevating the post-purchase experience and acts as a nerve center for all the supply chain operations of the company. Some of the key differentiators making Unicommerce a leading solution provider are

The largest number of integrations in the industry: With a vision to offer a truly unified e-commerce selling experience to its clients, Unicommerce’s platform has the highest number of integrations with 150+ partners across online marketplaces, logistics solutions providers, and ERP systems. It includes include the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Shopify, Magento, FedEx, Delhivery, Blue Dart, DTDC, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics Navision, to name a few.

Comprehensive product suite for e-commerce supply chain: E-tailers often find it challenging to manage different parts of their e-commerce operations, and it can lead to inventory overstocking/overstocking, high NDR/RTO, and customer dissatisfaction. Unicommerce offers a comprehensive range of solutions for every part of the e-commerce supply chain, and help sellers in elevating pos-purchase experience.

Sector agnostic solution: Unicommerce’s platform is sector agnostic and can be readily used by any brand irrespective of the industry. We have a robust clientele and we have been able to onboard some of the biggest FMCG and personal care brands on board in the last one year. This is in addition to players across other industries such as fashion, footwear, pharma etc. where the platform has been deployed at scale

Faster onboarding: Easy deployability of solutions is another key differentiating factor for Unicommerce. Our solution can be easily deployed within a couple of weeks, as compared to other solutions that take somewhere between 6-8 weeks at least to deploy. We have developed products on robust design architecture with intuitive product UI and UX, making it easy to use. Also, being an industry pioneer and a market leader, our solutions have already been used by most of the supply-chain industry professionals and its easier for them to work the familiar solutions, help us to further reduce the onboarding time.

Help us with your journey in the E-commerce and SAAS sector? Tell us about your partners?

Unicommerce started its operations in 2012, with the launch of a multi-channel solution designed to manage orders and inventory across various marketplaces. As the e-commerce industry continued to evolve, we continued to expand our product portfolio, to help our clients in elevating the post-purchase experience.

Initially, the company targeted SMEs and became a popular e-commerce solution amongst emerging e-tailers in the country. As the e-commerce ecosystem matured, we gradually shifted our focus in 2017 to acquire more enterprise clients while continuing to serve small and medium-sized sellers. Since then, we have been registering meteoric growth in our business revenue, and today, enterprise customers contribute to almost 80% of the company’s overall revenue. We make constant changes to our product portfolio to keep up with the evolving e-commerce market. The journey from a startup with a focus on SME’s to India’s largest e-commerce focussed supply chain SaaS platform has been rather extraordinary, to say the least.

When it comes to our partners, we have a robust network of strategic and reseller partners and they are the biggest evangelists of Unicommerce. The collaboration with strategic partners includes technical integration to ensure a robust end-to-end platform for the customers. We have a huge network of strategic partners and it includes companies like Shopify, Magento, Shiprocket, and Tally to name a few. The reseller partners are Unicommerce’s extended sales force, we have a wide network of resellers located across the country, which helps us to ensure a higher reach of our products to potential customers.

Top sectors and companies that Unicommerce provides services to? Give us a brief about your clients?

Unicommerce has 15,000+ registered sellers across sectors like apparel and footwear, FMCG, electronics, health and pharma, beauty and wellness, personal care, eyewear, and accessories, etc. Its sector-agnostic platform offers a wide range of features to cater to the specific requirements of clients in different sectors. For instance, fashion brands have multiple SKUs with different sizes and colors, FMCG and personal care companies need an inventory solution with expiry management, while a B2B business needs to manage bulk inventory. Therefore we made our product agile and it can easily be adjusted based on the business requirements of e-tailers.

Unicommerce works with some of the biggest ecommerce players and e-tailers of the country. In the fashion & footwear segment, we work with Myntra, India’s largest fashion marketplace, and retail brands such as Jack & Jones, Adidas, Vero Moda, Forever New, amongst others. In FMCG and healthcare, we work with Marico, Emami, Netmeds, leading Pharma e-tailer, and Healthkart, body supplements marketplaces to name a few. In the Personal Care segment, we work with brands such as Mamaearth, Sugar Cosmetics, Lakme, Nivea, and many more.

What challenges are you facing in running your business amid the second wave of COVID?

At the outset of the first wave of pandemics, we observed new categories emerging and gaining traction in the e-commerce space. For instance, FMCG and the personal care segment reported strong growth with previously offline players in these categories moving online. This trend continued during the second wave of the pandemic. We saw that there was a further increase in e-commerce adoption across the country. We saw multiple new sectors emerging in the e-commerce industry with consumers choosing e-commerce for almost all their shopping needs. Some of the new sectors that have recently become popular are innerwear, pharma, home decor, Nutraceuticals, and sport and fitness equipment, to name a few.

In terms of operational challenges, besides the initial hiccups during the first wave, we didn’t face any major challenges while deploying the remote work model. We have been working from home since

the beginning of the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020 and we plan to continue working remotely until every employee is fully vaccinated and we have a clear picture of the future.

What are the traction details (like the number of orders every month or yearly and other achievements of the company)?

At present, Unicommerce processes 20% of India’s total e-commerce volumes with over 1 million transactions every day, which amounts to an annual GMV of 5bn+ USD, making Unicommerce the largest e-commerce focussed supply chain SaaS platform in the country. We have a seller base of 15,000+ registered e-tailers across India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and we have over 35,000 active users for solutions. We have added 1500+ new clients in the last financial year, with almost 100% growth in new client acquisition.

Unicommerce is also one of the biggest warehouse solution providers in India, managing over 90 mn SKU’s spread across 6000+ warehouses across different parts of the country. We have become a preferred Omnichannel solution provider working with 1500 stores from leading brands located across the country.

In terms of geographical expansion, we set up operations in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to bolster our presence in the Middle East. We have also recently won several industry awards and accolades, such as IMC Digital Award for Omnichannel Solution, NASSCOM & Alden Global award as Best Warehouse Management Technology Solution Provider, and listed in Gartner’s APAC Magic Quadrant & Critical Capabilities for Warehouse Management Systems and GoodFirm’s as Top Order, Inventory and Warehouse Management Software

How do you look at future expansion plans?

Unicommerce is an industry leader in the e-commerce supply chain solutions market, we want to continue the growth momentum. As part of our expansion strategy, we want to be part of the country’s digital revolution and enable retailers in automating their supply- chain, and have four key focus areas of expansion

Deep Rooted presence in India: Unicommerce is the pioneer in the industry and has worked with over 15000+ e-tailers across the country. We will be focusing on getting more brands on board from Tier II and Tier III cities of India and will further leverage our strong partner network. In the last one year, we have achieved over 100% growth in our enterprise business and will aim to continue the growth momentum in the coming years.

Build International presence: We started our international operations with Dubai in 2020 and today we have clients in 9+ countries in SouthEast Asia, South Asia, and MENA region. Our customers are selling across the globe, with products being shipped to 78+ countries. We have seen increasing demand for our products in these markets, and we are positive that we will be able to build a strong client base in these regions. We aim to increase our international business by over 400% in the next few years.

Deeper presence in emerging categories: As an increasing number of consumers start shopping online, the industry will see new categories emerging in e-commerce spaces. For Instance, FMCG and the personal care segment have reported phenomenal growth over the last year and we are is well-equipped to help them in their online journey. Similarly, the industry will witness more sectors becoming mainstream. For instance sectors like sports and fitness equipment, home decor, and nutraceuticals are emerging and there is immense growth potential in these sectors

Continuous Product Evolution: As a supply-chain platform, we preempt the future challenges and upgrade our solution to the evolving industry needs. We have been in the industry for over 9 years and we are recognized as a company with future-ready ecommerce SaaS solutions. We will continue to ensure that we adapt to the changing business environment to help brands thrive in the dynamic e-commerce environment and achieve desired growth.

What are your Marketing Plans?

We are an enterprise solution company, so most of our marketing efforts are focused on connecting with relevant business owners and decision-makers at retail brands. While we follow practices like e-mailers and Google Adwords, we also organize webinars regularly along with releasing e-commerce focused industry reports.

As increasing companies started adopting digital solutions, it created a need for a platform where they can come and discuss the trends and e-commerce related business problems. Understanding their pain points and sticking true to our objective of simplifying ecommerce selling, we launched a series of virtual conferences and seminars platform called ‘SARAL’. So far, we have had two successful seasons wherein business leaders and industry stalwarts from different segments of e-commerce shared their insights. We have also organized conferences and seminars for retail brands and e-tailers in Middle-east and Southeast Asia as well.

We have also started coming up with quarterly and annual e-commerce trends reports. We recently launched an industry’s first report on emerging e-commerce segments. Over the last year, we have launched multiple and all our reports have received a phenomenal response.

What is the market size and opportunities?

India’s omnichannel and warehouse management systems market size is expected to grow from USD 231 million in 2019 to USD 488 million by 2024, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.2% during the forecast period. Major growth drivers for the market include the meteoric rise of e-commerce (projected to reach $120–140 billion by FY26 at a CAGR of 25-30%) and the growing adoption of D2C. We have observed a seismic shift in the behavior of e-commerce companies; they are focusing more on the value proposition of solutions and are ready to invest in technology to improve business productivity and customer satisfaction. Operating at the intersection of digital and traditional commerce, Unicommerce is well-positioned to capitalize on these opportunities and will play a pivotal role in driving the growth of India’s omnichannel retail landscape.

Source: Business World

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