SA’s Marc1 helps retailers grow customer base, increase sales with PoS platform

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South African startup Marc1 has developed a point of sale (PoS) platform that helps brick and mortar retailers get more customers into their stores and increase basket sizes.

Launched last year, Marc1 is a PoS platform that provides an end-to-end solution for brick and mortar retailers, including installation, hardware, software, MI/BI reporting, and tech support.

The PoS platform has a built-in digital assistant that helps retailers make more money by attracting more customers through location analytics and triggered SMS, increase basket size through recommendation and upsell gamification, and reduce cash losses and shrinkage using a cash management algorithm.

Marc1 chief executive officer (CEO) Tauhir Jardine told Disrupt Africa that the real key to unlocking the platform’s value was by taking the right action at the right time. 

“Using the data captured, Marc1 prompts sales associates and cashiers during the sales interaction to drive up-sell and increase basket size through asking the customer the right questions during the impulse moment,” he said.

Retailers quite like it. Marc1 has already processed more than 10 million transactions, and expanded into Botswana in January. It now has over 300 installations in total, and is heading towards profitability. The startup was also among the 10 selected for the first Johannesburg-based edition of Knife Capital’s Grindstone accelerator programme earlier this year. 

Jardine said the impact of Marc1 had been so impressive as it is disrupting an industry that had remained relatively unchanged for 30 years or so.

“Brick and mortar retailers are struggling to compete with their online peers during the move to a hyper-personalised, instant gratification culture. Online retailers have a wide array of tools to deliver these experiences that physical retailers do not have access to,” he said. 

“But done in the right way, there is still a relevant future for physical spaces – with Amazon’s investment in Amazon Go a harbinger for this. We believe there is a big opportunity to disrupt this space.”

That is what Marc1 is trying to do, by re-imagining the physical point of sale in order to give physical retailers access to the same tools as their online counterparts. With this, they have the power to leverage the impulse buy opportunity at the point of transaction, and use the PoS as a value-creating resource rather than solely for transactions.

Jardine said the startup, which is heading towards profitability, was targeting having 200 units in the market by year two, with the grand plan having 10,000 units out there in the next five years.  This would boost monthly revenues to around ZAR10 million (US$684,000). But the bootstrapped Marc1, which makes money from monthly subscription fees, will need funding in order to scale this quickly. 

“We have completed a number of experiments and now have a view of how much we need to accelerate our go-to-market strategy,” said Jardine. “We are currently in discussion with and actively looking for suitable equity investors, with an ask of around ZAR25 million (US$1.7 million).”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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