Vinculum, a global software company since inception, has been enabling Omnichannel commerce and retail solutions in order to help brands and retailers to easily scale, reach and delight customers across channels globally. In an exclusive interaction with IMAGES Retail, Venkat Nott, Founder & CEO, Vinculum Group talks about the brand journey, conceptualisation and opportunity of Omnichannel retail solutions in India.
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about Vinculum – how was it conceptualised, your brand journey, and what does the company do for the retail sector?
Vinculum is a modular Omnichannel SaaS platform enabling brands to sell across online marketplaces, offline stores and social channels thereby facilitating selling on any sales channel and fulfilling from any location. Through an uberised network of digital savvy brand distributors and a connected ecosystem of IOR, custom clearance agents, and digital marketing partners, Vinculum helps brands to scale globally.
What are the services provided by your company?
Vinculum’s modular Omnichannel platform helps brands and sellers to:
– Maintain a Centralised data hub to manage consistent Product Information (PIM) across sales channels and automatically list images and description of product catalogs onto target marketplaces
– Sell on Marketplaces and manage orders, inventory, fulfillment, and payment reconciliation across channels with ready APIs to 75+ Marketplaces/3PLs and front end platforms
– Enable Omnichannel Retailing with a real-time view of inventory across stores & warehouses
– Help brands to put up inventory with distributors online and help them be sold on marketplaces, aggregator apps, webstore and do delivery direct to consumers with ready integrations to hyperlocal delivery partners.
– Automated reconciliations of Omnichannel payment reconciliations and automated reconciliations of costs related to returns / damaged goods. Amazon certified solution.
– Enable brands to scale cross border through an uberised network of brand distributors and a connected ecosystem of IOR, Custom Clearance and Media agency partners to scale glocally.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown turned out to be a huge opportunity for e-commerce, Omnichannel retail, and service providers. Did it also give your brand an impetus when COVID hit?
Due to COVID, a clear trend has emerged – that of people shopping online from the comfort of their homes. This has a long term shift on buyer behavior online. We are observing online sales going up to 170 percent of pre-COVID levels. Brands are targeting 30 to 40 percent of their overall revenues from online channels. We are seeing tremendous opportunity and growth by helping brands scale online, going Omnichannel, reaching customers directly and enabling brands to scale globally with our uberised network of brand distributors globally.
Have you tweaked your services to better suit the current crisis scenario? Elaborate.
Our focus on enabling brands to scale across channels has got terrific impetus and urgency from customers due to the COVID crisis. Some of the key opportunity areas include:
– DIRECT TO CONSUMER: Post COVID, brands from many industries including FMCG are reaching customers directly by putting up inventory with distributors online on marketplaces, webstores, app aggregators and delivering home using hyper local players like Swiggy.
– ENABLING BRANDS TO GO OMNICHANNEL: Our platform enables brands to sell across channels (online, offline and social channels) and fulfill from any location (own store, own warehouse, 3PLs, marketplace led fulfillment like Amazon FBA and Distributor led fulfillment). This also extends to multiple scenarios like Buy Online Pick up in Store, Buy Online Return in Store, Go to store, not fi nd your choice of color or size of product and sales associates deliver direct to customer etc. A few of the changes necessitated by COVID include Appointment booking system in stores to ensure maximum] people allowed in store at a time to maintain social distancing, kerbside pickups, endless aisle allowing entire catalogue to be sold from store and close engagement with customers by enabling at home trails, WhatsApp marketing etc.
– COVID IMPACT B- HELPING BRANDS SCALE THEIR REVENUES INTERNATIONALLY. Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is a Government body that helps SMEs in Singapore to scale internationally. In the month of March 2020, Vinculum became an approved partner for ESG to help Singapore SMEs to scale their business internationally globally. Vinculum is currently adding 10 brands per month to enable them to identify target markets, channels, competition, price points and enabling the brands to sell globally. Brands use VineRetail platform for listing on marketplaces, manage orders, inventory, reconciliations, Fulfillment and use our uberised network of brand distributors to scale globally.
In July of 2020, Vinculum hosted the Virtual Cross Border Summit over a week which received a phenomenal participation of 1000+ registrations. We will increasingly use digital campaigns and work closely with our alliances and partner network for customer acquisitions. Our teams have all adjusted to working from home and going forward we expect to see a maximum of 50 percent team working from office even post COVID.
What has been the retailer approach to your brand before and during COVID?
Retailers are looking at all ways to reach customers directly at home. This has led to fast tracking initiatives around selling online on marketplaces, B-B channels, going direct to consumers through creative initiatives such as store on wheels, WhatsApp marketing etc.
Which retail companies are you servicing in India? Are you only working with big players or are smaller brands approaching you as well?
We work with all parts of the Omnichannel ecosystem including brands, retailers, 3PLs, marketplaces and distributors. We accordingly have more than 1000+ customers across India, South East Asia, Middle East and USA. In India, we work with many well known brands such as Titan, Harman, Skechers, DTDC, Blue Dart, Nykaa and many smaller and medium sized brands as well.
Tell us about the reach of your company. Are you working with Tier II & III & beyond too?
We have a platform which enables brands to sell globally. We have offices and local presence in India (Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Noida), Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, MEA, USA. In India, we enable brands to reach Tier II & III towns as well. We are working on major initiatives to create opportunities in this segment as well.
Are malls your clients as well or is your software more retail store specific?
Malls are innovating to bring in more customers back to malls. One of the areas where we see is closed marketplaces to create revenues for the tenants in a mall. We have the full stack for enabling malls to create marketplaces including seller panel, listing, order management, warehouse management along with sponsored ad plugins. This allows malls to launch their marketplaces in no time and create revenues for their tenants.
Tell us about the Payment Reconciliation and the Logistics fulfillment features of Vinculum?
Revenue leakages of 1-3 percent GMV are common in marketplace orders. Some of the reasons include:
– Channel Commission Overcharges
– Shipping Overcharges
– Pick-Pack-Ship Overcharges
– Inventory Missing without Reimbursement
– Carrier Damage without Reimbursement
We started with Indian marketplaces and are now offering payment reconciliations to global marketplaces like Amazon, Lazada, Shopee etc. The product has evolved further to enable Omnichannel Payment Reconciliations for store and sales associate commissions. This is quite necessary and a critical enhancement and is very useful when a sales associate reserves stock from another store or enables home delivery for the customer.
What is the future of Omnichannel retail in India during & post pandemic?
Retailers will all sell across channels and enable seamless fl ow of experience across channels. Retailers will need to engage with customers closely and become a very tech driven company. This is critical to create customer loyalty for your brand.
What are your future plans?
We are ideally positioned to scale. We expect 10 percent growth month on month in terms of MRR (Monthly Recurring revenue- COVID) and expect to be profitable by March 21. We have tremendous support from our investors, Accel Partners, ivycap Ventures, RB Investments and Song Hoi See and our satisfied customers. We will double down on initiatives Like ESG and replicate them in other countries. We will open a larger office in the US in the 2nd half of 2021. We are also making critical additions to our team to beef up solid engineering, support, customer success and Product BAs.