While working for two ventures of Rocket Internet,Fabfurnish and OfficeYes, Ali Mohammed, an IIM (L) alumnus, noticed that a lot of vendors are either suppliers to e-commerce companies or are selling on marketplaces. “There was a different mode of communication to transact for each of these channels -- either email or marketplace vendor panels. Besides these two, vendors use a third technology front to manage their own books and inventory like native Point of Sale (POS) systems, excel sheets, tally etc.,” says Ali.
This showed Ali a huge inefficiency in the retailer’s technology ecosystem which proved to be a real barrier to better business decisions. Importantly, chartered accountants seem to dominate the retailer’s decision-making because they believe one cannot live without tally. He believes that the time of such legacy ERPs and accounting systems should end and there needs to be a serious disruption in the way retail is conducted and recorded.
With the intent to weed out the pain of using different communication modes by vendors, Ali launched Primaseller, a cloud-based POS system for vendors to list their products and download orders from eBay and Amazon. “Unlike other omnichannel solutions available in the market we don’t replicate typical ERPs which have user interfaces that only specialised tech-friendly users can use. Retailers are not tech friendly. They know Whatsapp and Facebook. We aim to be just as simple as them,” adds Ali.
Ali did his engineering from NIT Surathkal and MBA from IIM Lucknow. He comes with more than seven years of diverse professional experience ranging from developing ERP/CRM software for Oracle. In his last stint, he was with two of Rocket Internet’s ventures Fabfurnish and OfficeYes, where he helped set up operations from scratch and defined processes.
Besides managing inventory in online marketplaces, Primaseller allows merchants to manage their stock levels across multiple store locations. At present, Primaseller is in a beta stage and is testing it out with a select few vendors.
The company has two subscription plans costing Rs.1000 to Rs.2000 per month except for bigger vendors who pay more for premium features.
Primaseller is not the right solution for large e-commerce companies and pure-play online traders. SaaS-based solutions like Unicommerce are already present and doing well for bigger e-commerce players. “Our true competitor today in the mindspace of a small retailer is tally,” adds Ali
Building a good team is the toughest challenge for any entrepreneur. “From convincing one engineer’s father to convincing others on the value of equity -- the hiring story or Primaseller has been memorable. While we do have some team members from reputed institutes, the only criteria we have is an analytical ability and a passion for startups,” says Ali.
Besides hiring, the biggest challenge for Primaseller is that while international marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have provided open access, Indian marketplaces like Snapdeal and Flipkart are yet to invest in building supplier friendly APIs and technology interfaces. Ali is hopeful about these marketplaces along with Shopclues and Myntra to release their APIs soon for integration.
“We hope to build traction of 1000 vendors within 12 months while making our product better, faster and stronger,” says Ali. So far the venture has been bootstrapped by Ali and is in the process of raising a seed round to take the product to the next stage.