South African startup TallOrder, a developer of advanced cloud-based point of sale (POS) solutions for the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market, is working on expansion to Europe and the United States (US) after banking US$3.1 million in funding in January.
Launched in 2014, the TallOrder POS platform, which can be deployed on suitable Windows, iOS and Android-based devices, offers integration with popular payment platforms such as SnapScan, Zapper, MasterPass, Yoco, ThumbzUp, MTN MoMo, Innervation, African Resonance, NetCash, DPO and PayFast.
In Africa, TallOrder can be deployed by retailers, service companies and hospitality businesses, with the cloud-based solution ideal for SMEs who typically have less IT skills on board and may not have the time or resources needed to deal with internet security, on- and offsite backups, disaster recovery, as well as keeping the software, databases and integrations up to date. For the international market, TallOrder has developed an offering for the hotel and guest house market.
“Our solutions are all conceived, designed and developed locally, with specific industry knowledge and expertise in mind. This is the foundation we use to meet specific business needs with greater power, speed, cost-effectiveness and ease of use – all underpinned with a top-class range of ongoing maintenance and support offerings,” Anna Groenewald, COO and co-founder of TallOrder, told Disrupt Africa.
Groenewald spent several years at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in the special investigations division, as well as at the University of Stellenbosch’s medical campus division, before she moved into the world of tech, accepting a role at chat commerce company Clickatell. Excited by the possibilities that technology ignited, she took the leap in founding her own startup, TallOrder, then called CloudOne.mobi, together with Dana Buys in 2014.
Buys, meanwhile, had successfully started and sold a number of software businesses since launching his first business while studying at the University of Cape Town in the early 1980s. Subsequently, as a hospitality business owner – notably co-owner of Vrede en Lust Wine Estate, among other interests – he became frustrated with poor levels of technology, particularly related to POS. TallOrder is the solution.
“In order to design cloud solutions that operate optimally, one needs to take the local context into account. We noticed that there was a need for cloud-based POS solutions in the SME market in Africa and developing countries. Many legacy systems make use of outdated technology that is often too costly for small businesses in Africa,” said Groenewald.
“In addition, Africa’s internet is notoriously slow, unreliable and expensive, and therefore cloud solutions created by more developed markets don’t always work as well as they’re intended over here. The local landscape demands robust offline processing capacity and the POS system must be able to be isolated from the speed and availability of the underlying internet, which we factored into our product design.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, has accelerated a move from the legacy local area network (LAN) based, on-premise offerings to cloud-based solutions which can be managed from anywhere. This has benefitted TallOrder.
“Despite the fact that our target markets were heavily impacted by COVID-19, we have seen a shift to cloud-based solutions during the last two years. Customers are eager to change to solutions that are cloud-based, affordable and trusted. We have been extremely lucky with the uptake of our products in recent times,” said Groenewald.
The startup has installations across many business types in South Africa, African markets including Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, and the Seychelles, and in Asian markets such as Indonesia, and now plans further growth after raising additional Series A funding. The US$3.1 million came from existing investors, including Investec Private Capital, as well as a consortium led by Africa-focused fintech investment firm Nurture Investment Management.
“We are also looking at expanding to Europe and America. What makes our offering unique in these markets is our integration partners and our willingness to integrate into these solutions, be it property management software or payment solutions, needed by our customers. These integrated solutions allow us to expand the value we add to customers,” Groenewald said.
As a SaaS company, TallOrder offers a subscription service. Its merchants sign up for monthly or annual subscriptions, and it works closely with various channel partners. Groenewald said it was initially hard to be recognised as a serious player in the POS market, competing with legacy suppliers who are well-known, as well as international players with big pockets and marketing budgets.
“We have had some great customers that were willing to support a locally developed product and take the leap for change with us. We learned some hard lessons trying to please many customers and take on many customer requests. We had to learn to focus on our vision for the product and stay focused. Trying to do too much all at once is not a viable solution, not only for the product but also for the business,” she said.