Pakistan is facing the 4th Covid wave with the new Delta variant worrying authorities. Scattered lockdowns have returned to urban centers to control the constant uptick in new cases. In this scenario, social distancing doesn’t look like something we’ll get rid of anytime soon. Vaccination, mask-wearing, and personal hygiene continue to be the order of the day.

With the lockdowns, despair has also returned for the local business community, especially the neighborhood shop owners who barely make ends meet on a normal day. These are the businesses that took the worst hit when the pandemic first tightened its grip on the country, and still continue to suffer as the virus shows little signs of abating.

The virus, however, triggered innovation in the digital retail space as more people began to shop online due to lockdowns. Many new online retail startups emerged, offering people the convenience to order things from the comfort and safety of their homes. But as most of these services were customer-focused, little was being done to undo the damage caused to the neighborhood dukandars (retailers).

Retailo’s Solid Proposition

To fill the gap, Retailo entered the market and began to change things. The Saudi Arabia-based startup and B2B online marketplace has vowed to simplify the retail sector of Pakistan. Being an online marketplace for SME retailers in the MENAP region, Retailo is on a mission to empower SMEs by equipping them with the latest tech tools to make their everyday lives smarter and better.

Today, Retailo serves tens of thousands of retailers, has thousands of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) in its portfolio, and has a growing team of over 400. “We are digitizing and supercharging the retail sector to make it beautifully uncomplicated,” says Wahaj Ahmed, Co-Founder, Retailo. “We aim to simplify retail through the use of cutting-edge technology while extending access by making complex supply chains breathtakingly straightforward, streamlined, and efficient.”

Retailo, which was founded in 2020 by a group of former Careem executives including Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz, and Wahaj Ahmed, allows grocery shop owners to acquire merchandise for their businesses using a smartphone app. “Retailers can depend on us for simple, quick, and reliable delivery of inventory. Our easy-to-use app and operational excellence simplify business for retailers,” Wahaj informs.

The startup is focusing on small grocery stores. It offers next-day delivery for thousands of SKUs from major FMCG brands. To fulfill orders, Retailo has its own fulfillment centers and last-mile delivery network.

But it’s the focused and forward-looking approach complementing the solid infrastructure that’s making Retailo an instant hit in the local retail space. Here are some ways in which Retailo is aiming to serve the neighborhood dukandars more efficiently.

Improving Digital Literacy among Retailers

In today’s fast-changing world, Retailo is making sure that the average dukandars of the country are in step with the rest. With the introduction of an online application, retailers can now manage their inventory in an efficient and time-saving manner while also improving their digital literacy.

This is very important as we face a technological push in all fields of life, be it education, healthcare, business, as well as the retail sector. The pace of digitization is picking up swiftly and more people are now relying on an internet-enabled smartphone to conduct business and lead everyday lives. Digital literacy, in such a scenario, plays a pivotal role.

Better Quality of Life through Increased Earnings

The SME market of Pakistan has yet remained highly underserved in terms of technological interventions. By building and introducing new and much-needed technology products for the retail workers, Retailo is on a mission to achieve its grand vision of unlocking the earning potential of 10 million SMEs.

“By making supply chains more efficient and empowering and unlocking the earning potential of 10 million SME retailers, we aim to have an outsized impact on Pakistan’s economy,” shares Wahaj. “The retail industry contributes around 20% of the GDP of countries in the MENAP region. We want to boost it and help the neighborhood retailers increase their earning potential.”

Precious Time Saving through Deliveries

Where previously retail store owners would rely on distributors to buy their inventories, they are now making the most out of online marketplaces to restock their stores. Not only is this process more time-efficient, but also more reliable, quick, and hassle-free. The increasing adoption of applications such as Retailo is a testament to the positive response and convenience such applications are providing to the local retail runners.

“Our technology and operations combine to deliver a strong value proposition not only to retailers, but also to manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers. We remain focused on offering SMEs competitive pricing, a one-stop-shop to discover products, and the ability to order whatever they need, whenever they need,” informs Wahaj Ahmed.

Access to Wide Quality of Products

The best thing about an online marketplace is the variety of options it presents when it comes to choosing from a different standard of quality. As opposed to the previous methods of shipping inventories, retailers now have a broader horizon when it comes to choosing their products, thereby allowing them to manage their finances and products with full control in their hands and all options put before them.

Moreover, the discounts offered by applications such as Retailo make them a perfect choice for the local store owners. To make its proposition even more fruitful, Retailo has partnered with a number of local players including Maersk, Shangrila Foods, Vital Tea, Coca-Cola, Hilal Foods, and more.

Efficient Inventory Management and Restocking

Inventory management and restocking are complex things even for a small retailer, which is simplified effectively by Retailo. With the app, retailers can closely track their inventory and order from within the app for restocking at highly competitive prices.

“Our marketplace enables the retailer to procure inventory for their stores. Store owners now prefer to buy inventory through online marketplaces like Retailo instead of distributors now. Plus, they love the discounts offered on Retailo’s online application. This points to the gap that has long existed in the Pakistani retail space and the effective way Retailo has responded to that need,” Wahaj highlights.