• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Reliance on manual processes, major challenge for retailers, distributors – Ogwumoyi, RedCloud’s GM

Reliance on manual processes, major challenge for retailers, distributors – Ogwumoyi, RedCloud’s GM

Ebere Ogwumoyi, general manager at RedCloud Nigeria, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven open commerce company, speaks to BUNMI BAILEY about how the company surpassed a trading volume of $500 million within a year and how it is using technology to bridge gaps in the country’s trade sector.

RedCloud recently announced that its trading volume in Nigeria moved above $500 million in 12 months. Looking back to where you started from and where the business is today, how much would you say expectations have been met or surpassed?

Surpassing a trading volume of $500 million in Nigeria within a year has indeed exceeded all expectations. This significant milestone underscores the value of our Intelligent Open Commerce PlatformTM, the much-needed solutions it brings to the market, and the trust our partners, brands, merchants, and distributors have placed in us.

We are optimistic and poised for even more substantial growth in the upcoming months as we continue our commitment to innovation and transformation in the Nigerian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.

What are some significant landmarks the company has recorded in the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce industry over this period?

It has significantly impacted the B2B e-commerce sector, launching the first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered open commerce marketplace to aid FMCG stakeholders in digital transformation, covering all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

Our extensive partnerships include collaborations with tier one and tier two brands and key distributors nationwide, and we have acquired over 100,000 wholesalers and retailers within this short period.

We also introduced RedPayTM, our innovative payment solution with the largest local payment network and launched lending services tailored for micro and small retailers in the FMCG sector, reinforcing our commitment to addressing the needs of thousands of retailers in the industry.

What impact is your company having across Nigeria’s FMCG sector?

RedCloud is making a transformative impact across Nigeria’s FMCG firms. We have helped brands pinpoint and penetrate whitespaces and blindspots across the market while delivering pivotal real-time data insights essential for informed decision-making.

This has led to an increase in the average order size for merchants and has expanded the share of customer baskets for brands.

How can digital technologies solve the major challenges retailers and distributors face in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, retailers and distributors face significant challenges, primarily due to their reliance on manual processes.

For instance, without the ability to communicate directly with suppliers, retailers often have to wait for distributors to deliver products or have to travel considerable distances to get stock, and without the ability to predict demand, distributors struggle with inefficient inventory management and route planning.

Cash payments are also prevalent, which pose security risks and limit businesses from accessing crucial financial services, and the fragmented nature of the Nigerian retail market hinders access to valuable data, which is crucial for informed decision-making.

Digital technologies, such as digital payments, data analytics tools, and new B2B e-commerce platforms such as Open Commerce by RedCloud present effective solutions to these challenges by streamlining operations and empowering businesses with actionable insights for better strategic planning.

Can you tell us about the company’s Open Commerce model and how it is solving the challenges that retailers and distributors face every day?

Open Commerce is a new type of trading model that promotes fair and profitable trade across emerging markets. We solve the challenges that retailers and distributors face daily by providing the tools and technologies they need to better understand the market and uncover new opportunities.

With our Intelligent Open Commerce Platform, we provide brands and distributors with access to more buyers than they can reach in their geographic locations so they can expand into new markets.

We also have one of the world’s largest digital payment networks, which makes it possible for retailers and distributors to start making and accepting digital payments and paves the way for more value-added financial services like digital product sales and advanced supply chain financing.

In addition, we also provide sellers with access to real-life, granular data captured across the supply chain, so they can make data-driven decisions at scale to drive growth.

Collectively, Open Commerce solves the problems of lack of access to data and the dependence on manual processes that millions of retailers and distributors face across the Nigerian FMCG market.

How is RedCloud removing barriers to fair and profitable trade in emerging markets?

Removing barriers to fair and profitable trade in emerging markets is a key cornerstone of our vision of Open Commerce, and we’re achieving it by digitising traditional offline processes and facilitating online cash transactions.

We give merchants the power of choice by allowing them to filter and compare prices from different sellers to make the best purchasing decisions for their business and also provide access to data on touchpoints like stock-keeping and inventory management.

Our Intelligent Open Commerce PlatformTM simplifies payments, provides a transparent product marketplace, and delivers real-time data that businesses can leverage to make better commercial decisions.

As industry experts and pioneers, how have consumers embraced B2B e-commerce over the past years, and how have you built trust?

B2B e-commerce has received rapid adoption over the last few years, especially since the pandemic and its effect on the supply chain in the market.

Despite the competition in the B2B e-commerce space, brands, distributors, and merchants alike trust us because we are not in competition with them to sell products; we simply provide the platform.

Unlike other traditional B2B e-commerce providers, rather than monopolising the advantages of digitising the supply chain, our focus is distinctively on leveraging technology to benefit every player in the ecosystem.

As an AI-powered technology company, how are you leveraging technology to offer value to brands, distributors, retailers, and other stakeholders in the FMCG supply chain?

RedCloud is at the forefront of leveraging AI-powered technology to bring value to brands, distributors, retailers, and other stakeholders in the FMCG supply chain through our Intelligent Open Commerce PlatformTM.

Across all our innovative solutions — Red101®, RedPayTM, RedInsightsTM, and RedAdsTM — AI plays a pivotal role. Red101® is an open marketplace for buyers and sellers, facilitating direct trade and connection.

In RedInsightsTM, our AI-driven Smart Search allows users to request data using natural language effortlessly. RedPayTM has built the world’s largest local payment platform, enabling digital payments with a few clicks, and RedAdsTM offers sellers a unique opportunity to reach and engage with their audience through targeted promotions and campaigns.

What kind of services do you offer that differentiates you from your competitors in the market?

Unlike e-commerce, which is about centralising commerce and controlling it at every stage, Open Commerce is about giving brands, distributors, and merchants the choice of how to drive commerce for their business.

It’s important to make this distinction: other B2B e-commerce players still sit between buyers and sellers like traditional distributors, they own the data and the transaction – as well as trying to own the customer by creating competitive products.

While B2B e-commerce gives you little control and no access to suppliers; Open Commerce provides both. Some of the e-commerce platforms, such as TradeDepot, Omnibiz, and Alerzo, are leveraging technology to empower the entire value chain – manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

What is RedCloud doing differently in these areas?

RedCloud sets itself apart in the market by providing an open, decentralised platform where manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can trade openly, freely and directly.

Most of our competitors don’t do these; rather, they insert themselves into the middle of the supply chain and replace distributors by supplying consumer products and building their own delivery networks.

We are focused on providing existing distributors with the tools and technology they need to grow their businesses. Through our Red101 app, distributors gain access to more buyers and access critical market data to make informed decisions while retaining control of their supply chain and delivery networks.

Our growth strategy is directly linked to the growth of the businesses on our platform, as we focus solely on empowering our sellers with technology. The distributors on our platform understand this and are therefore glad to work with us to drive growth in their businesses.

Tell us about Red101® and how it is unlocking growth opportunities?

Red101® is the marketplace app of our AI-powered Intelligent Open Commerce PlatformTM, a pivotal tool for merchants seeking to unlock substantial growth opportunities. It’s an open platform where merchants can seamlessly access sellers, discover products, and compare prices, all while managing payments for stock efficiently.

Additionally, Red101 offers merchants a plethora of value-added services they can sell to their customers, including bill payments, airtime, and data top-ups, while earning a commission on every transaction.

RedCloud recently announced a business partnership with V-Martins Supplies, a beverage distributor in Nigeria. Please tell us more about that?

Our recent partnership with V-Martins Supplies, a large beverage distributor, was driven by their desire to expand their market reach and drive revenue growth, without increasing costs significantly.

By partnering with RedCloud and leveraging our revolutionary Open Commerce Technology, they gain a new digital sales channel that enables them to reach a wider network of retailers across multiple geolocations.

What is the single biggest challenge facing your operations in Nigeria and what is the single most positive factor that contributes to your business?

The primary challenge we face in Nigeria is the low level of technology adoption among retailers and distributors, many of whom have operated offline for years. In addition, they also tend to be wary of new technologies due to past experiences with complex and expensive tech solutions that did not deliver the promised benefits.

However, the single most positive factor that contributes to our success is our exceptional team, who have been instrumental in educating retailers and distributors about the benefits of Open Commerce, which has led to the high adoption rates of our solution in the market.

We have also designed all our solutions to be easy to use for any retailer, and we also provide a dedicated support team that works tirelessly to ensure that every seller’s questions are answered as they embrace Open Commerce.