SaaS solutions for supply chain management are essential enablers in an increasingly technology-driven retail sector. They are helping both online and offline businesses meet customer expectations in a fast-evolving omnichannel retail environment. In an interview with BusinessLine, Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce, a Snapdeal and Softbank-owned Supply Chain SaaS company, speaks about the growing role of SaaS solutions and the trends that are redefining contemporary retail.


How is Unicommerce redefining the trend with technology becoming an integral part of retail operations?

The widespread use of e-commerce and other emerging digital sales platforms have resulted in a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour and business strategy. Organisations of all sizes and types are increasingly looking to invest in technology that will help them improve their business performance, adopt agile business processes and maintain better financial control. All this provides a strong growth momentum for SaaS solutions organisations since they offer ready-to-implement and pay-as-you technology solutions to meet these very needs. Unicommerce is helping retail brands, and e-commerce companies streamline their supply chains and simplify business operations. Our technology solutions help brands bring operational efficiency through a centralised view of inventory, automated order allocation, inventory reconciliation, and determining optimal stock management levels.


What role does Unicommerce play with SaaS replacing customised solutions built by individual companies?

Running a retail business in today’s world is a complicated operation, with enterprises selling through many channels. Companies require technology at various phases of their operations. SaaS makes it easier for them to obtain that technology at a far reduced cost and with the flexibility to expand as their company needs change. According to a Redseer analysis commissioned by Snapdeal in August 2021, the global retail SaaS market for order processing and intelligence services has an addressable market that is estimated to grow from US$7 billion in 2020 to US$17 billion in 2025.

Over the years, Unicommerce has established itself as a technology solution provider for companies planning to scale their businesses. Our solutions provide vertical scalability allowing our clients to access more or fewer services or features on-demand. We have clients who process 50 to 50,000 orders per day. Interestingly, many new emerging brands start their association with Unicommerce at an early stage of business, and allowing them to expand rapidly


What kind of brands/retailers are utilising Unicommerce’ssolutions?

Unicommerce solutions cater to multiple sectors, including manufacturing and retail businesses. We have built a variety of capabilities to meet the diverse needs of our clients across a wide range of industries and products that are customised to solve their specific challenges. Fashion brands, for example, require a WMS with shelf allocation and a simple quality control procedure. In contrast, FMCG and personal care firms require expiration management, and B2B enterprises want bulk order management. As a result, we offer flexible solutions that can be quickly altered to meet the needs of e-tailers. Our clients include Marico, Myntra, Netmeds, Vero Moda, Jack and Jones, W, AND, Global Desi, Sugar Cosmetics, Mama Earth, Plum, Emami, Healthkart, Agrostar, etc.


Trends like Omnichannel operations, House of Brands strategy, and proliferation of D2C brands are redefining modern retail. How is Unicommerce contributing to these significant ecosystem trends?

Over the last two years, the e-commerce business has changed dramatically, with substantial shifts in customer buying patterns and platforms and their expectations of retail companies. Unicommerce keeps a close watch on these shifting trends to ensure that our solutions are fit for the future. Even before the pandemic, we predicted that the D2C trend would ramp up and were able to implement it as soon as the pandemic impacted the businesses. For example, Marico, a leading FMCG firm, uses Unicommerce’s solutions to increase its brand website. Operations from 10 to 1000 orders per day and achieve a 99.99 per cent order fulfilment rate. Many D2C brands and roll-up companies now entrust us with their supply chain operations. We are witnessing a rise in Omnichannel use by brands across categories as they start to sell across numerous channels and place a greater emphasis on customer experience. 


Is Unicommerce focussed only in India, or do you plan to expand globally?

 Unicommerce also has a presence in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. These are emerging e-commerce markets with a growing number of online customers. It has been noted that as e-commerce usage rises, so does the use of technological solutions to manage scale and improve efficiency. We want to make e-commerce selling as simple as possible worldwide and plan to expand our operations to North America and Europe.


How do you evaluate SaaS companies’ private and public market interest - both in India and globally.

The demand for SaaS solutions has grown worldwide. Multiple SaaS companies have emerged from India and have built strong businesses serving clients in various international markets while maintaining operational efficiency. SaaS companies have the potential to achieve faster profitability compared to other businesses. According to a December 21 report by Bain & Company, Indian SaaS companies are expected to generate $30 billion in sales by 2025, accounting for 8-9 per cent of the worldwide SaaS industry. The report has also highlighted that Indian SaaS firms have excellent ARR-to-funding ratios, in line with global SaaS peers, and select Indian companies even outperform their US counterparts. Investors are also excited about how Indian SaaS companies build a talent pool of professionals with SaaS-relevant skills. The report also pointed out that more than 250 new Indian firms have been founded by former employees of Indian SaaS companies, employing more than 5,000 people.