Omnibiz gets $3M to digitize Nigeria’s informal B2B supply chain – TechCrunch

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Regardless of the prevalence of buying malls and the emergence of VC-backed e-commerce firms like Jumia, casual retail in Africa continues to be king.

A 2016 research by PwC states that 90% of gross sales in Africa’s main economies come by casual channels — markets and kiosks.

This presents a big market ripe for digitization, and over the previous 5 years, African startups have risen to the problem, elevating thousands and thousands of {dollars} within the course of. Immediately, Omnibiz, a Lagos-based startup, joins the fray and has raised a seed spherical of $three million to develop into new markets.

Omnibiz is a B2B e-commerce platform that connects fast-moving shopper items (FMCGs) producers to retailers by digitizing the availability chain stakeholders.

The platform presents a cell app, WhatsApp channel and a telephone quantity that retailers can use to inventory their outlets. Omnibiz says in a press release that retailers “can place orders at their comfort and have items delivered to their doorstep without charge.”

Omnibiz was launched in 2019 by Deepankar Rustagi. The Indian founder and CEO who has stayed in Nigeria for over 20 years began his first startup, VConnect, in 2011 as a web-based market and search engine to search out native professionals for service wants.

The platform related people with greater than 100 providers and over 500,000 listed companies throughout the nation earlier than shutting down in 2017, Rustagi claims.

Submit-VConnect, Rustagi consulted for a number of FMCG manufacturers. He figured a necessity existed for producers and retailers of products to digitize their processes resulting in the launch of Omnibiz in late 2019.

Omnibiz operates an asset-light retail distribution mannequin. When a retailer makes an order on the Omnibiz platform, it is requested from associate distributors who retailer items on behalf of producers and are historically identified to assist out with warehousing and transportation.

With Omnibiz, these distributors can focus solely on warehousing and move on the duty of transporting items to Omnibiz’s third-party logistics suppliers. The drivers of those logistics suppliers use Omnibiz to effectively distribute the orders to the retailers inside 24 hours.

“We work with producers to offer visibility. Then purchase items from them and preserve them in associate hubs that act as warehouses and distributors. Then, use the providers of drivers that work with third-party logistics drivers who receives a commission on each supply made,” Rustagi informed TechCrunch.

Omnibiz

Picture Credit: Omnibiz

Digitizing this worth chain helps retailers save working capital whereas Omnibiz connects them with greater than 20 manufacturers, together with Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark.

The B2B e-commerce retail firm is at the moment in 4 cities throughout Nigeria — Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna. The corporate will add two extra cities, Ibadan and Kano, earlier than the top of August, Rustagi provides.

By Rustagi’s account, Omnibiz will feed off his expertise at VConnect, his prior enterprise that struggled to monetize and scale regardless of the massive traction it obtained as a well-liked native market. 

“We knew about small companies and what kind of expertise they like. That was our specialization, however our enterprise mannequin didn’t work. However on this case [Omnibiz], the monetization occurs on our platform, and there’s cash to be made for the small enterprise. We’ve been rising 30% month-on-month for the final 12 months,” he mentioned.

The B2B casual e-commerce market has seen a resurgence within the final couple of years. Kenya’s Sokowatch and Twiga, Nigeria’s TradeDepot and Egypt’s MaxAB have longed vied for market-leader positions of their respective markets.

The pandemic spiked extra curiosity of their actions as all of the aforementioned startups have raised cash this previous yr, together with newcomers Kenya’s MarketForce and now Omnibiz.

Some function asset-light fashions, whereas others take up the duty of managing the end-to-end digitization course of. Rustagi believes the previous is ideal for the corporate as a result of it helps distributors develop their attain somewhat than eradicate them.

I believe scaling in a single metropolis with belongings shouldn’t be that troublesome. But when you must scale in 20, 24 cities in a rustic like Nigeria or Ghana, or Ivory Coast or East Africa, the funding required will probably be very excessive.” Rustagi continued. “So we predict with out vital funding in belongings, we can scale a lot sooner. And since we took the tech-first strategy, we’ve got good management over the enterprise. I imagine we’re in the precise area and the precise time with the precise mannequin.”

Omnibiz’s seed spherical was led by V&R Africa, Timon Capital and Tangerine Insurance coverage. The spherical additionally included Lofty Inc., Musha Ventures, Sunu Capital, Launch Africa, and Rising Tide Africa. It takes the corporate’s complete funding to $four million. Rustagi additionally disclosed that the corporate additionally obtained funding from Seedstars and can take part within the accelerator’s development program.

I believe Omnibiz would be the position mannequin for B2B retail in Africa and may scale properly into different rising markets. We are excited and joyful to be supporting Omnibiz in all methods past simply offering capital,” Raj Kulasingam and Vishal Agarwal of V&R Africa mentioned in a press release. 

Over the subsequent few months, Omnibiz will use the funding to develop in different West African cities exterior Nigeria —  Abidjan, Takoradi, Kumasi and Accra. Meals, non-alcoholic drinks, private care, and child care merchandise are the highest classes on the Omnibiz platform. The corporate is planning to develop into new classes like alcoholic drinks and OTC pharmaceutical merchandise.

Omnibiz may also use the funding to create new tech merchandise that may improve worth for the retailers. The corporate will work with companions to extend the working capital availability for the retailers and digital instruments to handle their enterprise extra effectively.

“One of many key issues we intend to do is to carry on medium-scale producers who discover it troublesome to get the last-mile supply to achieve clients. We need to scale them to allow them to attain a lot of retailers. That’s one thing we’re rolling out so we will onboard increasingly more producers,” mentioned the CEO on Omnibiz’s subsequent plans.

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