[Startup Bharat] ForceSight’s ecommerce enablement software helps SMBs grow online sales
Ramakrishna, Founder of Hyderabad-based Hometrade, sells homoeopathic medicines, supplements, healthcare products, and cosmetics on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Meesho, along with his company’s own website.
He has been selling close to 3,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) in the online marketplace for six years, but constantly struggled with identifying bestselling products, drawing up keyword strategies, and retain Buy Box (add-to-cart box on online marketplaces) and returns.
Almost four months ago, he came acrossvia a Facebook ad. And things changed.
Founded in 2019 by Raja Chitharanjan and Vellayan Lakshmanan, Coimbatore-basedis a sales enablement software for online marketplace sellers.
It provides end-to-end integrated technology-enabled solutions for small and medium businesses to improve profits by scaling sales, reducing operational costs, reviewing management, and offering payment reconciliation.
Ramakrishna says the sales enablement software has helped him to identify his loss-making products and his bestselling ones. It has also helped him to retain the Buy Box, identify reasons behind returns, and helped with review management.
L- R - Raja Chitharanjan and Vellayan Lakshmanan
The aha moment
Vellayan is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Altius Technologies, which provides product information management in various industries like manufacturing, engineering, plumbing, electrical and electronics, and safety supplies.
In the last 15 years, Altius has helped over 500 companies to increase sales. It specialises in building data and product specifications for industrial products.
The idea for ForceSight came about when one of Vellayan’s US clients was looking to establish a business in the online space in India and requested help to grow volumes using data intelligence.
Vellayan reached out to Raja, his cousin, to build a business in this space. Raja quit his job as Director, Financial Planning and Analysis and Regional Controller in Lafargeholcim, a building materials manufacturer, and relocated to Coimbatore.
“We realised the problem was largely unsolved for online marketplace sellers in India,” Raja says. “We felt there was an opportunity to come in with domain expertise and make a meaningful difference to their top line.”
ForceSight was built to help SMEs with sales using tools such as review solicitor, buybox protector, keyword manager and offer solutions like automated multi-channel inventory management, payments reconciliation from multiple marketplaces, review management, tracking and analysing profitability, and help retain buy box.
“We see a huge transformation happening in this space in the next three to four years and the scalability of this industry is unquestionable,” Raja says.
He adds that even if many players in the space are successful sellers, some pain points have not been addressed yet.
The pain points
ForceSight’s product aims to solve three pain points: identify the winning products to sell in the online space, the right marketplace to sell in, and help with optimization for existing products in existing marketplaces.
“The biggest pain point for a seller is: how to get more orders,” Raja says.
The startup offers a plug-in SaaS (software-as-a-servce) product that collects information from multiple marketplaces to derive intelligence, which helps SMB players with meaningful insights that can lead to better decisions.
Ramakrishna told YourStory that he did not know he was losing money in more than 700 SKUs that he sold on Amazon and Flipkart. This was due to many reasons, including huge advertisement costs and price reductions to match competitors.
“After the ForceSight software, our loss-making SKUs have been brought down close to 400 in three months,” he says.
ForceSight helps business owners get detailed information on all marketplace costs, ad spends, return costs, shipping, and GST for their SKUs—all in one single dashboard.
It also automates review request flows, payment reconciliation, and sales defence. The sales defence feature helps with customer insights to retain the buy box (the add-to-cart box on online marketplaces).
The team has also helped improve keyword performance and has managed service options for startups that need interpretation and assistance to be able to use the product themselves.
ForceSight's Profitability Tracker
Performance and market
ForceSight currently has 500 customers pan-India. Of these, more than 100 are paying customers with MRR of Rs 2,000 and the others are on a trial basis.
It offers five types of subscription plans, beginning with the starter plan priced at Rs 4,500 for three months to extra-large orders plans available on request.
The startup went live with a ‘bare-bones’ product in July 2021. It then again launched its software in February 2022; the final product went live in April 2022.
The company, which has a 25-member team, made its first sale in September 2020 where one of the beta customers on unfinished MVP.
It competes with Unicommerce (India), SellerApp (Singapore), and ChannelEngine (the Netherlands).
Earlier this month, ForceSight got accepted into Newchip, a US-based investment accelerator programme.
Armando Vera Carvajal, Vice President of Product at Newchip, said in a statement that, “Newchip evaluates a diverse number of companies across all industries from around the world, selecting a small percentage to join our accelerator. This strict selection process makes us an ideal partner for investors looking for promising startups. AI-based ecommerce enablement software startups like ForceSight can scale quickly with proper funding and guidance. We are excited for ForceSight and believe they will do well at Newchip.”
Raja said ForceSight also plans to expand its product to suit other online marketplaces.
Online selling in India is at the cusp of growth, and expected to grow 4X to touch more than $200 billion in market size, Raja says. “This will see a large increase in the number of online sellers and the existing sellers will grow at a fast clip. ForceSight is well positioned to help new entrants and existing sellers to help scale their business with little effort.”
(The story was updated to remove initial investment details, correct the relationship between the founders, and correct typos.)