Pune-based Intouch Rewards uses customer loyalty programs to fund supply chain logistics
It’s been over two years since we last wrote about Intouch Rewards. But our chance meeting at TechSparks Pune gave us the opportunity to catchup on the startups progress, and it does seem to have been an interesting journey.
Unmesh Mayekar and Dr. Anant Mahale (Co-founder and Director), who had founded their company in August 2010, realized very early that, providing supply chain visibility to enterprises (large, medium or small) was a key opportunity in the Indian market.
Reminiscing their journey so far, Mayekar says they look at our growth journey in two dimensions. First the number of solutions they have developed and delivered. Initially they decided to focus on SMEs or retailers who had single stores, billing systems and created a non-intrusive sales data capturing solution for them. Post success with this software solution – which could be universally applied to any node between the supply chain network of the retailer, they came up with a loyalty program which was mobile based/cardless named as Intouch Rewards, which was targeted at retailers, who could offer it to their shoppers. The success of Intouch Rewards, helped the firm earn revenues and helped validate their product for future projects. It also became the headway for them to develop more robust software for mid and large enterprises.
Intouch consumer care solutions aims to offer retailers wide range of retail management requirements – ranging from very broad to absolutely specific like - tracking systems, analyzing sales transactions, order management, warehouse management, catalogue management, billing systems etc. All these software are developed in a modular fashion, where solutions could be used either with retailer’s existing systems or by replacing existing systems that they use. The direct beneficiary of these solutions is the enterprise (manufacturer), while distributors and the dealers are the secondary beneficiaries.
Retailers and companies today have a multi-tiered network that include complex flow of goods, information, money, linkages etc. right from manufacturer till the retailer’s end. Each node faces a distinct challenge and with their 10 distinct solutions, Intouch is trying to be the one solution that can repair all problems. The two flagship programs that the startup has is its -- Distributor Tracking Solution -- currently used by larger enterprises like TTK-Prestige and Dealer ordering and Order Tracking portal used by medium sized enterprises like Cotton King. These best-in-class technology based solutions deliver measurable benefits to small and medium sized retailers, their suppliers, their customers (shoppers), and other parties associated with the retail ecosystem such as shopping complex owners, media advertisers, market researchers, analysts & marketing agencies. Sale of these solution are completely driven by market demand.
The second dimension of growth for the company is the number of customer installations done. Today the company has total of over 400 installations across 30 customers including -- Cotton King, TTK prestige, Juice Lounge, Hanes from Jockey etc. To manage these installations and for smooth running of the software, Intouch rewards has a robust backend office, that is responsible for collection, archiving, processing the data and refining the online analytics as needed. The insights which come out of the data collected are presented on the Intouch dashboard where the client can see what kind of content is needed to make strategic and tactical business decisions. “We have become selective in serving clients now as we want to focus on a few and help them save cost on account of reduced wastage, manufacturing inefficiencies, inventory management, stock picking, planning efficiencies etc. This will help increase revenue by improving sales and faster response to the market demands,” says Dr. Mahale.
A very unique nonintrusive sales data capturing software has been developed by the team for small and larger retail enterprises which captures transactional data and provides them with real time mobile alerts, online alerts and business analytics information. The software being generic can be installed on existing transaction server, at any node on the distribution network of the retailer or manufacturer. But the application part differs with the size and needs of the organization. There is a one-time charge for installation of the software plus subscription charges for the continual services they offer to run, maintain, bug fix, refine the solution, hand holding, training, issue resolution etc. The charges vary according to the service offered to the customer and the kind of customization on the software. Within 2 years of operation, the company has reached a self-sustaining mode. Currently it is fully supported from revenues generated from selling solutions.
“To generate interest and attract customers to install our solutions, at the large enterprise level - we are using our network to open the doors with prospects at the enterprise level. At the SME level, our existing customers are bringing in new opportunities through their references. We have actively started participating in retail conferences recently showcasing our technology and solutions. We are yet to begin focused marketing activities” says Dr. Mahale about their customer acquisition strategy. There are many small and large competitors offering various software solutions for various players in the distribution network of the retailer, but the key differentiators for Intouch Rewards says Unmesh are its the patent pending technology used to deliver supply chain visibility across multi-enterprise distribution chains, the domain experience in supply chain management, retail and FMCG, cloud based enterprise solution and delivery across multiple platforms.
To gain work efficiencies and support business, the company had initially hired staff focusing on product development and support side. Anyone with a basic degree in computer science/engineering could join and then gain application development experience on the job. On the customer support side, candidates with good communication and customer management skills with basic ability to carry out installations and customer training were hired. Currently Intouch has a dedicated team of 10 individuals (8 full time and 2 part-time), who focus on product development, implementation, after sales support, enterprise & SME sales, lead generation/business development and are running the show. But Unmesh says they are actively scouting for talent that can help develop and deliver innovative and high impact software applications for their clients.
By telling more businesses, especially the large enterprise ones about their success so far, Intouch wants to tap into newer opportunities in the larger enterprise space and thereby gain rapid market penetration.
Come to ITC Gardenia, Bangalore this Saturday to see who the Tech30 from TechSparks 2013 are.