SoBanHang, a Vietnamese bookkeeping app for small retailers, has secured a US$1.5 million seed round from FEBE Ventures, US-based VC firm Class 5, and individuals such as Business Insider founder Kevin P. Ryan.
With the new investment, the startup aims to help small retailers create online stores and manage orders to tap into a market of 16+ million nano- and micro-businesses in Vietnam.
As per the press statement, the company develops according to the model of Shopify Lite & Digital Ledger for MSMEs. Techcrunch reported that SoBanHang also intends to expand its financial services to include working capital loans that can be disbursed without a digital wallet or bank account.
Launched three months ago, SoBanHang was the idea of Hai Long Bui, chief analytics and CTO at Landers Superstore (a Philippine supermarket chain) and former Lazada executive Hai Nam Bui.
The startup’s bookkeeping tool assists businesses in digitising their processes, especially family-owned businesses having less than five employees. It offers them an online storefront system to connect with customers smoothly and maintain relationships while preparing for other COVID-19 outbreaks.
The firm claims to have signed up almost 20,000 merchants as of August. It has also seen an uptake in registration from food and convenience retailers during the pandemic.
In a recent interview with TechCrunch, co-founder Hai Nam Bui said that most Vietnamese retailers are not used to the payment process with third-party logistics providers or digital wallets. “That was an aha moment when I realised that a lot of e-commerce platforms are still not touchable to about 90 per cent of retailers in Vietnam.”
According to SoBanHang’s research, many Vietnamese micro-sized businesses are local, serving consumers within a few kilometres of their location and offering their deliveries on foot. They used to do everything manually on paper since they didn’t have a point-of-sale system or a laptop.
SoBanHang, therefore, shies away from complicated logistics or payment systems, which force merchants to employ high-cost third-party delivery applications.
The co-founder believes that SoBanHang can help small businesses compete against larger firms like supermarkets and convenience stores when the lockdown measures are lifted.
“The buyers and sellers are actually within walking distance. So when they connect with buyers, they can make that order transaction, and then retailers deliver the goods themselves and collect the money at the customer’s doorstep,” said Hai Nam Bui.
In a chat with e27, Dave Anderson, managing general partner at the US-based Supply Chain Ventures, said that many small companies worldwide still rely on homegrown or excel spreadsheets to manage the supply chain part of their businesses.
“Making supply chain toolsets available inexpensively across the globe to small businesses will help these companies increase profits, compete with neighbouring shops, and generally improve the lives of millions of owners and their families,” Anderson added. “The democratisation of supply chain technology is a real and important trend, one that will help create a better world for many.”
Image Credit: Sobanhang
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