This AI-based platform is helping SMBs in the travel industry make intelligent and smart pricing decisions

Mumbai-based Sciative was started by Dr Anshu Jalora and Vijeta Soni. The company is a price optimisation solutions provider that serves SMBs as well as large businesses.
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In the modern world, technology is a game-changer for businesses. Be it artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, or machine learning, all these new-age technologies have been helping small and medium businesses (SMBs) address several business challenges, including margins, stock assortment, and pricing. 

One of the companies in India addressing this is Sciative. Started in 2015 by entrepreneur couple Dr Anshu Jalora and Vijeta Soni, the Mumbai-based company is a price optimisation solutions provider. Its clientele cuts across different sectors, including retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, travel, and more.

The products offered by Sciative are Viaje.ai and Brio. The former is an AI pricing product used by SMBs operating in the travel space whereas Brio helps retailers and ecommerce platforms make intelligent decisions with respect to inventory management, discounts, promotional campaigns, and more. 

In an interview with SMBStory, the couple tells us more about the platform, how they convinced traditional SMBs to adopt it, and what’s in the future. 

Edited excerpts from the interview: 

SMBStory [SMBS]: What compelled you to come up with a price optimisation solutions platform?

Anshu Jalora [AJ]: I have done my PhD in pricing and revenue management. After working with companies like Starbucks, Overstock.com, ITC, Reliance Industries, etc., we found a very interesting opportunity in India where there is a huge rush among startups to grow and expand by all means. We noticed that in this process, some amazing, great ideas were not becoming as successful because they lacked sound pricing strategies. 

Vijeta Soni [VS]: This compelled us to put our advanced scientific skills in pricing to use. We launched a product in the retail space that enabled companies to integrate dynamic pricing tools into their systems in 2015.

It enabled retailers to position their pricing and discounts in such a way that they can achieve their growth targets without relying too much on discounts or by burning a hole in their pocket to get rid of non-performing assets. That is how the journey of Sciative began.

SMBS: MSMEs are inherently conservative and traditional. How did you convince them to use your platform?

VS: As many as 90 percent of our customers in the travel space are MSMEs. They leverage our platform called Viaje.ai. 

AJ: When you give control of your business to AI bots, it is actually scary. It is the same as using a self-driving or autonomous car. Some MSME owners have not studied beyond Class 8 but they know their business very well so convincing them was not easy but we took a proof-of-concept approach with them. 

We would plug our products into their systems for 15 days on a trial basis and encourage them to run operations both manually and through our platform. This strategy worked as the MSME owners were able to clearly see that deploying our AI tools helped them increase their margins by 20-40 percent.

Some popular SMBs who use our platform include Shreenath Travels in Gujarat, Rajesh Travels in Bengaluru, Vignesh in Chennai, and Morning Star in Andhra Pradesh.

SMBS: What if competitors of the same industry use your platform? How does dynamic pricing benefit in that case?

VJ: Before we entered the industry, a major reason for concern among MSMEs was the price war. If one player reduced the price of a product or services, the other also felt compelled to do the same and this created price wars. 

We come into the picture to solve this problem. Our algorithms use 83 dimensions while deciding the price of a seat in a bus and a competitor's price is just one of them. Other factors such as bus type, the route it takes, customer behaviour, etc are also considered. 

Price optimising is in retrospect enabling healthy competition. It offers several other benefits as well such as optimum utilisation of resources, sustainability, changing demand patterns, positively altering consumer behaviour and more. It also democratises products and services and ensures it is available to a larger pool of consumers at the same time.

SMBS: What is the revenue model?

AJ: The revenue model is different for different products in different industries. For example, in the retail industry, we charge according to SKUs, categories of products, etc.

With respect to our customers in the travel segment, we charge a percentage of their revenues. 

SMBS: What are your plans for the future? Can you mention some of the products in the pipeline?

AJ: We are very excited to launch products in the entertainment and aviation sector in this financial year.

VS: The product that we are launching in the entertainment industry will disable fixed pricing. The AI-based pricing will change the prices by taking into consideration factors like the director of the movie, number of songs, movie length, etc. Also, the pricing might change if a school student is going to watch a film. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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