Ghana’s Sumundi helping shop owners go digital to boost revenues

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Ghanaian startup Sumundi is developing digital solutions to help retailers better manage their stores, and has recorded over US$85,000 worth of sales on its platform so far.

Founded last year, Sumundi has developed a web-based store management programme called Keepsales, and is in the process of integrating it with its proprietary delivery and logistics app.

Keepsales, which is available online and offline, helps store owners record sales, generate receipts, and track inventory, allowing them to keep track of what is going on in their shop in real-time. 

After an initial, admittedly time-consuming stocktake is conducted, and the shop owner’s inventory fed into the system, store management becomes simpler than ever before.

“From there, anytime a customer walks into the merchant’s shop to make a purchase, he records the sale into the software, a receipt is generated, and the corresponding adjustments are automatically made to the merchant’s inventory. The merchant gets to see how many sales he is making and how much is being sold in real-time. The software becomes a single source of truth for all accounts,” Gilbert Blankson-Afful, Sumundi’s co-founder, told Disrupt Africa.

Keepsales eliminates the need for account notebooks or error-prone paper trails of any kind, and also makes life more convenient for customers.

“In Ghana, it is very common to walk into a shop to buy an item only for the shop owner to tell you he didn’t know the item was out of stock. This is very bad customer experience and merchants lose customers if this happens repeatedly,” Blankson-Afful said.

Now, shop owners are alerted when they are running out of a particular item, when delivery to a customer is due, and also able to access records and accounts with one click. Even though the bootstrapped Sumundi has conducted few marketing efforts, the retailers are coming. Through word of mouth and referrals, it is already used in 17 shops, which between them have more than 35,000 inventory items and have tracked US$85,000 in sales.

“Our customers include pharmacies, electronic vendors, boutiques, food stands and other consumer product retail outlets. We have bootstrapped our way to revenue of about US$12,000 over the past six months,” said Blankson-Afful.

While most retail-focused African tech startups have rushed into the world of e-commerce, he feels they are missing a trick in not developing solutions for the physical shop first.

“We realised most companies were solely focused on e-commerce and online transactions, ignoring the fundamental knowledge gaps, problems and myths surrounding the retail industry in Africa,” Blankson-Afful said.

“Why would you go all in on e-commerce when these same vendors and merchants still use paper and notebooks to manage their basic business activities? More than 80 per cent of merchants in Africa apply little to no technology even with their basic business operations. They don’t even understand how to go about it even if they wanted to.”

This is the market Sumundi is targeting.

“We decided to start from the very basics and enter the market from a different angle. Get them to learn how to use technology for tracking their sales and inventory. With that first step taken, hold their hand into more complex and bigger technological applications,” said Blankson-Afful.

These will come, with the startup already working on integrating Keepsales with its logistics solution, but first the self-funded Sumundi wants to raise funding. It is currently actively seeking seed capital of US$200,000 to help it pre-finance hardware components, engage in consistent marketing and public education, and build a team suited for bigger scale.

“We are currently only operating in Ghana but we plan on expanding into other African countries when we obtain the right resources and support,” Blankson-Afful said.

“Though revenue at the moment isn’t where we want it to be because of resource limitations and lack of extensive marketing, we have seen very positive revenue growth from the initial release of our software seven months ago up until now, and we believe it will only get better.”

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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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