As Anchanto introduces its ‘free forever’ plan for SMEs in APAC and tech start-up Zowedo launches its micro vendors’ online platform to the Singapore consumer market, smaller merchants are given a leg up when it comes to embracing the region’s vision to be a truly digital economy.
By Joanne Leila Smith
Anchanto launched its ‘Forever Free’ plan to help smaller sellers and micro small and medium enterprises (micro vendors) to participate in the region’s lucrative e-commerce sector.
The plan allows SMEs to use Anchanto’s e-commerce marketplace management software, SelluSeller, which gives online sellers the ability to manage their online selling on multiple marketplaces, including inventory, orders, pricing, promotions, listings, reports etc on a centralized platform. Micro vendors can now use this service to connect to newer marketplaces, webstores and logistics partners across nine countries to grow their revenue.
Anchanto claims sellers processing up to 50 orders per month will be able to subscribe and use the software for free. Once their business grows to more than 50 orders per month, they can upgrade to any of the five paid plans to continue using the service.
A global B2B SaaS technology company, Anchanto specializes in enabling end-to-end multichannel eCommerce for businesses through its SaaS products – says it decided to introduce this plan as a part of its efforts to encourage and support SMEs. Micro vendors are key economic drivers as they account for up to 95 per cent of all business establishments, according to founder and CEO of Anchanto Vaibhav Dabhade. He says its ‘Free Forever’ plan will help this segment to embrace transformation to the digital economy.
“With the ‘Free Forever’ Plan powered by SelluSeller, small businesses can expand their sales across any number of marketplaces without accruing the costs of adding more manpower and resources. Our plan was designed with entrepreneurs and the smallest SMEs in mind, to help them scale their business across Asia through digital channels. Much of our business growth has been due to our work with SMES, and – as we are now expanding in the region – our new plan is our tribute to the small sellers and entrepreneurs who have been with us from the very beginning and who are continuing to help us grow,” says Dabhade.
Another Singapore-based start-up to watch that is keen to capitalize on the micro vendors market is Zowedo, which recently launched its online platform, of same name, to the Singapore consumer market. The company says its mission is to democratise the service industry by connecting small and medium enterprises to customers.
This tech startup says it provides micro-vendors with a suitable retail platform to promote their services and tools to embrace the digital economy without the burden of high capital expenditure.
Four months after a soft launch, Zowedo currently offers over 400 service listings and says it has a fast-growing pool of customers in Singapore. Zowedo’s proposition is to help consumers find verified service providers online easily for all their home and lifestyle needs.
Zowedo Co-Founder and CEO, Antoine Nicole says he saw an opportunity to provide a service that could make a real impact in the Singaporean Micro Vendors market.
“Finding a good service provider for personal or home services is like finding a needle in a haystack. As a busy working professional and a father of two young children, I wanted convenience. A simple way to find a service provider, knowing what I will get for the said price and determining the quality of the vendor based on other customers’ feedback plus being able to make online appointments. Such an online service did not exist across the range of services an individual or a family might need. The rest they say is history and Zowedo was born,” says Nicole.
According to Nicole, the majority of Zowedo’s vendors are small companies or self-employed individuals who lack the resources and skills to bring their business online. The Zowedo platform offers a comprehensive and easy-to-use online onboarding process that takes these vendors step-by-step from creating profiles to making the very first sale. Post onboarding, Zowedo says it provides vendors with ongoing user training.
Nicole says that according to statistics from Singstat, the Recreation, Community and Personal Services sector has been among the fastest growing industries in terms of CAGR of operating receipts between 2007 and 2017 in Singapore. As Singapore moves towards its Smart Nation mandate, Nicole says there are considerable resources and grants being made available to businesses, however, most micro vendors lack access to resources and do not have the required skills or manpower to build a strong digital presence or marketplace.
“Zowedo helps these businesses break into new customer segments through a digital platform and will empower them to grow and sustain. We also solve the issue of cash payments for small vendors – non-payment for services or preference for cashless payments – by providing an online payment gateway, which makes it easier and more convenient for consumers to pay for services,” says Nicole. “With Singapore’s burgeoning e-commerce industry and the declining footfall at brick-and-mortar outlets in the past few years, small companies and service providers cannot afford to remain offline if they want to be competitive,” says Nicole.
According to Nicole, Singaporean consumers have moved online and are there to stay.
“Today, a working mother does not have the luxury of time to research and find, and then book a cleaning service for her house. With office cubicles becoming increasingly redundant as laptops and smartphones make any location an office, there are increasing expectations for people to be online and available almost 24/7. This makes managing housework, home repairs or taking care of dependents a challenge. While there are digital options for each individual service, it is difficult to manage multiple mobile apps, passwords for different online services and track payments across different services. The Zowedo platform provides a simple and effective solution to these problems. From registering for a pottery class to getting a handyman in for repairs to booking in-home spa sessions – consumers can find reliable and verified service providers across various verticals, all in one place,” says Nicole.