Dropee releases full B2B online marketplace
By Anushia Kandasivam October 25, 2017
- A new interface and improved efficiency to benefit users
- Expansion plans in place for Malaysia and region
MALAYSIA-based technology startup Dropee launched the full release of its business-to-business online marketplace on Oct 25. Owned by e-commerce company Macro Tech Ventures Sdn Bhd, Dropee is a B2B marketplace that connects suppliers and retailers on a digital platform, enabling both to digitise sales orders and track inventories and providing fulfilment of goods and access to real-time data.
Dropee also introduced a new web interface to further streamline connections between suppliers and retails. Prior to Oct 25th’s full release, Dropee has been running a beta site since early this year.
Dropee cofounder and chief executive officer Lennise Ng explains that the idea for the platform came when she and co-founder Aizat Rahim (chief operating officer and director) noticed inefficiencies in how their respective family businesses received orders from customers, with almost everything being done with pen and paper.
Dropee started out as an in-house project to build a digital ordering system for the founders’ family businesses and when they began looking to order products online, they started creating a drop-shipping marketplace to drop-ship goods to customers of e-commerce retailers.
“However, we learned that drop-shipping alone was not sustainable as most B2B purchases still took place offline. That’s when we moved away from drop-shipping to serve offline retailers,” says Ng.
Dropee works on a subscription model, with suppliers and retailers paying rates that start from RM388 per month.
Enhancements to the platform
With the full launch, Dropee is now able to support any number of suppliers and retailers. The new interface features an improved dashboard with greater functionalities to help speed up documentation processing and better manage relationships with customers.
The improved platform also allows suppliers to launch promotional campaigns where they can specify which of their customers are eligible for discounts from Dropee’s listed prices.
Suppliers’ frequent customers are able to request to be part of this additional discount feature by clicking on a ‘Request for Additional Discounts’ button on their own dashboards.
The new interface allows for a more streamlined ordering process with retailers placing new orders or re-orders directly with the supplier without requiring a sales person from the supplier to help them as per the previous system.
Dropee now enables current Dropee retailers, easier discovery of products at wholesale prices based on the categories they select to describe themselves (such as convenience stores or restaurants).
“After months of running on beta, we’ve improved our system and can now take on any number of suppliers and retailers. We are pleased with the results. It’s now easier for suppliers to manage their sales and retailers to get the best deals that meet their needs and budget,” says Ng.
Aizat says that when running tests for the new enhancements with some Dropee users, the users noted an increase in recurring sales because of the faster replenishment process and reduced documentation time.
Current growth plans
There are currently more than 1,000 fast-moving consumer goods on the Dropee platform, a number that is growing rapidly. Dropee aims to have 1,000 SME retailers sourcing from the platform in the next six months.
Ng says that establishing partnerships is key to achieving this goal. “We intend to work with business enablers to assist, support and build a community around SME retailers,” she says, adding that the partnerships will boost Dropee’s presence within the SME community and provide Dropee better access to SMEs.
Dropee is also targeting new entrepreneurs; Ng says that Dropee has the ability to help them build their businesses and champion them within their local communities.
The startup is also starting to strengthen its sales team. About 80% of its sales and marketing will take a bottom-up approach, comprising online campaigns targeted at retailers and business owners and offline door-to-door sales.
The other 20% will be a top-down approach where it partners with business enablers and/or works with an anchor supplier for wider access to retailers.
According to Ng, one of the biggest challenges in getting retailers on board the platform is education. While the startup has managed to negotiate with a range of suppliers, including large ones such as Nestle and Red Bull, to provide prices that are 20-40% less than they provide hypermarkets or sales agents, retailers are still reluctant to use Dropee as a product-sourcing platform.
“Most retailers are not used to using technology in their business to the extent that some of our customers don’t have a POS system let alone use Excel spreadsheets,” she says.
Stemming from this, Dropee has noticed that its online marketing campaigns are not as effective as door-to-door sales. This is why it has had to allocate more resources to hiring more sales people and partnering with business enablers to gain wider access to retailers in a smaller time frame.
Dropee started with an injection of RM50,000 (US$11,809) of paid-up capital by the founders in August last year. Since then it has raised RM300,000 (US$70858) from angel investors in January this year and secured a RM150,000 (US$35,429) grant from Cradle Fund’s CIP Catalyst programme.
Ng reveals that Dropee has secured another grant but declined to say where from.
More expansion on the horizon
Dropee currently operates only in Malaysia’s Klang Valley but has plans to expand to other states in the country – Penang in the north and Melaka and Johor in the south – by the second quarter of next year. Ng says that the plan is for Dropee to be available throughout Malaysia by the start of Q4 2018.
Ng says that the startup’s biggest competitor is not in Malaysia but rather a regional competitor – mobile-based wholesale marketplace WYDR in India that connects manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers. She is still confident that Dropee can hold its own.
“What sets us apart from them is that our main focus will always be on the retailers. We believe that SMEs play the biggest role in the economy and will always be the biggest contributors to the nation’s GDP. Our unique selling proposition will always focus on benefitting the SMEs,” she says.
There are long-term plans to expand to emerging markets within the Asia Pacific region but Ng declined to reveal where to.