Nigerian startup Bazar is aiming to help entrepreneurs grow and manage their retail business easily and from anywhere with its cloud-based management and point of sale (PoS) software.
With owners of small businesses traditionally facing a number of challenges in keeping track of their day-to-day transactions and analysing performance over time, Bazar eases the process by allowing them to manage aspects such as inventory, sales, customers, accounting, invoicing and reporting.
The concept was conceived by co-founder Somide Olaoye in late-2014 when he was working on an application allowing students to sell items to each other on university campuses.
“While building the application, I was not satisfied with the market size and the existing alternatives, so I decided to make the application not just for students but for anyone with a product to sell,” he told Disrupt Africa.
Bazar was born from this, and officially launched in July of last year as an online virtual marketplace. Yet it struggled to compete with the likes of Jumia Marketplace and Konga Seller HQ, and pivoted early this year based on customer feedback.
Now, the startup is a provider of cloud-based retail management and PoS software for small businesses, a pivot Olaoye said has been justified by the feedback and traction Bazar has seen since. He is ambitious for the product.
“We could be the industry leader when it comes to building retail management solutions across Africa,” he said.
Small businesses can sign up to Bazar on a monthly basis on pricing plans that range from US$15 to US$50 per month. They can then input all their information to help them get the best of the platform, including inventory and contacts, and start managing orders through the platform.
Olaoye said benefits include better inventory management, better efficiency, the ability to track revenue from invoice through to cash receipt, in-depth reporting and quick real-time insights on business performance, and the ability to offer customer rewards and loyalty programme.
“Bazar ensures that all business data are well secured and backed up in the cloud. With this, businesses and easily retrieve business transaction data even in time of unforeseen situations,” he said.
Growth has been solid, with the platform having over 200 registered users and seeing revenues growing by 10 per cent each month. Olaoye said the positive uptake is due to the real problem Bazar solves.
“Effective retail management is a great challenge for small businesses both in Nigeria and across Africa,” he said. “Research conducted in late 2015 shows that over 60 per cent of the retail companies that go out of business annually due so because of very poor management and maintenance of the business. For a business to be successful and stay profitable, it should be able to know the exact figures of how much revenue it is making, how much expenses and what is the profit margin like on every product sold.”
This is where Bazar comes in, with Olaoye saying very few businesses understand the importance of effective retail management, while those that do generally employ analogue solutions, such as pen and paper, and Microsoft Excel.
“The challenge with using such solutions is that they are very manual, not easy to use, inefficient and not scalable,” he said.
“Bazar exists to make poor retail business management a thing of the past by making it as easy as possible for both retail managers and their team.”
Self-funded thus, Bazar was one of the first beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) last year, and was also selected to take part in events such as Seedstars and SpeedUpAfrica. For Olaoye, expansion is the name of the game.
“Currently we are much focused on winning the Nigerian market, with plans to expand to other African countries – starting with Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia and Egypt,” he said.