Looking at the booming e-commerce space in the B2C segment, brothers Abhishek and Bobby Kamani realised that the next big wave would be organisations heading to the space for transactions. So in 2013, the duo launched Zoffio, a vertical B2B e-commerce player, providing holistic online solution to companies and SMEs for office supplies.
"We recognised the inefficiencies and hurdles that a business experiences within the product and service deliverables of offline as well as B2C online setups when it came specifically to their office supplies requirements," says Abhishek.
He adds that the larger enterprises in the offline space were keen to cater to a select few companies, while the smaller offline businesses showed their limitations on account of negligible depth and variety.
Combating a problem
The B2C online enterprises, Abhishek says, continue to be unaware of the needs of business establishments that require specific supply patterns and certain financial hygiene in the process of business transactions. The duo saw that not only offline setups were inefficient but even online marketplaces were wholly unsuited for meeting business needs.
Once the idea was born, the brothers realised that it was important to build a team that had relevant experience and motivation to build the business from a shared vision perspective.
They hired Vipul Jain who is the COO and had formerly been a Director in a Rocket Internet venture. "Our plan was to hire an e-commerce expert as well as an expert on the office supplies industry. With Vipul, we got lucky as he had experience in both e-commerce as well as office supplies," adds Abhishek.
Thereafter, the rest of the functional heads followed having relevant online and offline experience.
Abhishek says that one of the challenges was to do with the lack of experience available.
Three years ago, e-commerce was just about taking off, which meant that most employees had few years of experience in the space. "This was especially true for the tech team where a lot of trial and error had to be undertaken," says Abhishek.
The company is able to deliver a wide variety of products in bulk, in a single shipment across India, within a short timeframe.
Abhishek says that most of their competition can either not provide a wide variety, or cannot provide bulk numbers of certain items, or will require multiple shipments to fulfill a single order. "Many competitors can only service a small geographical area and would require over a week if they were to attempt to deliver pan India," he adds.
The external side of Zoffio's technology involves a focus on value-added services. They currently are building a SaS-based inventory management system, free for all. This will be quite useful, adds Abhishek, for the mid-sized companies that are currently managing their purchasing using Excel sheets.
The team is also introducing a predictive tool which can analyse the client’s consumption, and send alerts at the time when the inventory of a particular item needs to be re-ordered. This tool will also be able to give suggestions to companies on how best to save money on their purchases.
For larger organisations, Zoffio has corporate micro sites that host individual company’s catalogue on their contracted tiered pricing. They also have a credit and maker that acts as an approved functionality for business users."We are in the process of developing the app versions also, specifically designed to accommodate these features," adds Abhishek.
Internally, the company has a warehouse management system as well as a ticket management system.
Zoffio currently operates from two offices and warehouses in Bengaluru and Delhi with a staff strength of 150. They also have plans to open warehouses in Chennai and Mumbai in the coming months.
According to Abhishek the company saw a quarterly revenue growth of 50 per cent CAGR in 2014 and expects quarterly revenue growth of 35 per cent in 2015. Last year, he claims to have had five million site visits and currently, it is getting 25,000 daily visits.
"We are targeting over 15 million visits by the year end. We sold 3.3 million products last year. Our expected growth rate for the year-end is 1,000 orders per day and we are targeting revenue of close to Rs 30 crore by the year end," adds Abhishek.
Future plans and market space
The team plans to scale up and have its presence in 17 different locations pan India and to be among India’s top 10 e-commerce companies in the next five years.
According to some rough industry estimate, B2B e-commerce is a USD 500-billion market at its early stages in India. There are 4.8 crore SMEs that need to secure bulk supplies and it’s a much bigger opportunity than B2C e-commerce.