Retailo is spearheading a transformation in the retail sector within the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region, a market that’s rapidly adapting to digital trends. The startup is pioneering in streamlining retail supply chains, making retail simpler and more accessible. By digitizing retail supply chains, Retailo is not only simplifying the retail business but also expanding its reach across various markets within the MENAP region.
The venture began its journey with a vision to modernize the retail landscape, which traditionally has been informal and fragmented, especially in these parts of the world. Through its innovative B2B marketplace platform, Retailo is striving to bridge the gap between retailers and suppliers, ensuring a smoother flow of goods and transactions within the retail ecosystem.
As a first-of-its-kind regional B2B startup, Retailo is laying down the tracks for a more organized and efficient retail sector, facilitating numerous small and medium-sized businesses along the way.
At a Glance
Startup Name: Retailo
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Total Funding: $45 million
Industry: B2B, Online Marketplace, Retail Technology
The retail sector in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region has traditionally been characterized by informal and fragmented supply chains. This fragmentation often leads to inefficiencies, inadequate access to goods, and a lack of transparency between retailers and suppliers.
The complexity and informality in the retail supply chain further exacerbate issues such as stockouts, overstocking, and an inability to match supply with demand accurately. Additionally, the lack of digitalization in the sector makes it challenging for small and medium-sized retail businesses to compete and thrive in the market.
With a retail market size of $500 billion in the MENAP region, addressing these challenges can significantly impact millions of small businesses and the broader economy.
Retailo has developed an online B2B marketplace platform designed to simplify the retail business, particularly focusing on the MENAP region. The platform aims to bridge the gap between retailers and suppliers by digitizing retail supply chains. This digital transformation facilitates smoother transactions, better inventory management, and more transparent interactions between the parties involved.
The unique approach of Retailo lies in its regional focus, addressing the specific challenges faced by retailers and suppliers in the MENAP region, a market that has traditionally been characterized by informal and fragmented retail supply chains. By providing a digital platform, Retailo is not only streamlining the process of buying and selling but also ensuring that small and medium-sized retail businesses have the resources and connections necessary to thrive in the market.
With its innovative platform, Retailo stands out by providing a tailored solution to the unique challenges faced by the retail sector in the MENAP region, which differentiates it from other generic B2B marketplace platforms that might not cater to the specific needs and challenges of this region.
Retailo’s value proposition is anchored on simplifying and digitizing retail supply chains in the MENAP region. By providing a digital B2B marketplace platform, Retailo addresses the traditional challenges of fragmentation and informality within the retail sector. This digital transformation facilitated by Retailo’s platform results in smoother transactions, better inventory management, and more transparent interactions between retailers and suppliers. Here’s a breakdown of Retailo’s value proposition:
- Regional Focus: Tailored solutions for the specific challenges faced by the retail sector in the MENAP region, unlike other generic B2B marketplaces.
- Digital Transformation: Streamlining retail supply chains by digitizing processes, thus minimizing inefficiencies and promoting transparency.
- Access to Resources: Enabling small and medium-sized retail businesses to have the resources and connections necessary to thrive in a competitive market.
- Market Expansion: Providing a platform for retailers and suppliers to expand their reach across multiple markets within the MENAP region.
Retailo’s unique regional focus, coupled with its digital solution, positions it as a significant player in modernizing the retail sector, making it attractive to both retailers and suppliers within the MENAP region.
The founding story of Retailo is rooted in the collective vision of its three co-founders—Muhammad Talha Ansari, Wahaj Ahmed, and Muhammad Nowkhaiz. These individuals, before forming Retailo, had notable experience as executives at the regional ride-hailing giant Careem. Their journey towards establishing Retailo began in 2020, intending to transform the retail landscape in the MENAP region.
The trio identified a significant gap in the retail market, particularly concerning the interaction between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and suppliers. They aimed to create a one-stop solution for SMEs and retailers to discover and procure products for their stores with the promise of having them delivered within 24 hours. This initiative was driven by a broader ambition to change the perception of the MENAP region and assert it as a significant player in the B2B E-commerce space, as Retailo expanded its operations to key markets within the region shortly after its inception.
The founders leveraged their background and network from their time at Careem to attract substantial investment early on, enabling Retailo to secure a seed funding round of $6.7 million, which at the time, was recognized as a significant achievement for a Saudi-based startup.
Their journey reflects a blend of expertise, vision, and timely execution, positioning Retailo as a promising venture in bridging the retail supply chain gaps within the MENAP region.
The vision of Retailo, as shared by its co-founders, pivots around digitally transforming the retail sector, especially within the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region. They aim to streamline the historically complex retail supply chains in the region by leveraging technology. Here’s a breakdown of their vision and the impact they aim to create:
Retailo’s core vision is to technologically supercharge the retail supply chain in the MENAP region, creating a seamless connection between manufacturers and SME retailers through their online B2B e-commerce platform.
Efficiency and Transparency:
By introducing real-time data and technology into the supply chain, Retailo aims to eliminate the information asymmetry that has traditionally caused delays and inefficiencies. The founders believe that their platform can make ordering patterns more meaningful and enable better supply chain and production planning.
The founders are focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by helping them connect with suppliers and get the best deals on inventory for their stores. Their platform aims to become the main distribution channel for manufacturers and the main buying channel for SMEs.
The founders envision creating a long-term impact by solving core problems in the retail sector and creating real value. They see Retailo as a venture that can significantly improve the lives of people involved in the retail sector, be it manufacturers, retailers, or even consumers indirectly, by making the supply chain more efficient and transparent.
Retailo’s short-term plans include building a strong team to scale operations in the huge, untapped market of the MENAP region. They are laying the foundation to ensure they have the necessary tools in place to support their partners and customers efficiently.
They recognize the challenges of operating in huge cash economies and are working on digital payment solutions to accelerate transactions and document the economy better. They also acknowledge the challenge of digitizing information in the supply chain and are aggressively working towards overcoming these challenges.
Building a Resilient Business:
The founders’ approach to building Retailo amidst the pandemic reflects their resilience and ability to turn crises into opportunities. Their vision extends beyond merely surviving the pandemic, as they aim to establish a resilient business model that can thrive and expand in the long term.
This vision is driven by a larger ambition to change the perception of the MENAP region and assert it as a significant player in the B2B E-commerce space, contributing to the broader economic development of the region.
Background of Founders
Muhammad Talha Ansari:
Talha is the Co-Founder of Retailo Technologies. Talha has a rich background in operations and business development. Before Retailo, he served as the Senior Director of Operations at Careem’s last-mile delivery business in the MENAP region. He also successfully launched and turned a Rocket Internet company profitable as its Managing Director in Pakistan.
Talha, alongside Muhammad Nowkhaiz and Wahaj Ahmed, founded Retailo to build a B2B marketplace for small retailers in Pakistan and the Middle East. The venture was propelled by a $6.7 million seed round, marking the beginning of their journey to revolutionize the retail supply chain in the region.
Wahaj is the Co-Founder, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), and Acting Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Retailo Technologies. He strongly believes in creating an impact in people’s lives by providing them opportunities to improve their earning potential.
Wahaj transitioned from Careem to Retailo, co-founding the startup with the vision of simplifying retail in the MENAP region. He has been associated with Retailo as a co-founder since 2020, indicating a shared ambition to leverage technology for retail transformation.
Nowkhaiz is the Co-Founder of Retailo Technologies. Like his co-founders, Muhammad Nowkhaiz transitioned from Careem to launch Retailo, reflecting a shared ambition to digitize and simplify retail in the MENAP region.
Details about the exact amount raised in the Seed Funding round are not publicly disclosed. However, it was noted that Retailo secured substantial seed funding to initiate its operations, with a portion of it being $6.7 million, as mentioned by Talha Ansari in an interview.
Series A Funding: Raised $36 million
On February 1, 2022, Retailo raised $36 million in a mixed equity and debt Series A funding round. The equity portion of the funding was backed by several notable investors:
- Graphene Ventures
- 500 Global
- Tech Invest Com
- Mentor’s Fund
Nahda Fund led the venture-debt funding in this round.
Series A – II Funding:
On February 15, 2023, Retailo secured additional funding in a Series A – II round. The exact amount and the investors involved in this round have not been publicly disclosed. Several reputable investors took part in this round, including:
- Graphene Ventures
- Shorooq Partners
- IMM Investment Global
- Abercross Holdings.
The funding has been utilized to expand Retailo’s operational footprint, enhance its technological infrastructure, and further its market penetration within the MENAP region.
Based on Retailo’s recent funding rounds and statements given by Retailo’s founding team, their future plans include:
- Market Expansion: Expanding their market presence within the MENAP region to serve more retailers and suppliers.
- Technology Enhancement: Improving their platform’s technology to provide better services to their users.
- Partnerships: Forming partnerships with other companies or organizations to enhance their offerings or market reach.
- Increasing Workforce: Hiring more employees to support their growth.
Challenges and Risks
Below are some of the problems Retailo can face if they don’t take preventative measures and plan accordingly:
The retail industry is closely tied to the overall economic health. A slowing economy can lead to reduced consumer spending, which in turn can affect retail sales adversely. For startups like Retailo, this can mean lower revenue, potential layoffs, or a slowdown in expansion plans.
Retail businesses have access to a plethora of data which, if analyzed and utilized effectively, can lead to better customer experiences and operational efficiencies. However, managing and making sense of this data can be challenging, and failing to do so can result in missed opportunities and inefficiencies.
Delivering a superior customer experience is critical in the competitive retail market. Consumers have come to expect seamless shopping experiences both online and offline. The ability of Retailo to meet or exceed these expectations could significantly affect its market share and overall success.
Global Retail Sales Decline:
With the recent downturn in global retail sales, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Retailo may find it challenging to achieve its sales targets. This trend could also affect investor confidence, which is crucial for startups to secure necessary funding for operations and growth.
In a market that’s continually evolving, staying updated with the latest technologies is vital. Technology can help in mitigating the effects of some of the challenges mentioned earlier, like enhancing customer experience and managing data effectively. The ability of Retailo to adapt to new technologies quickly and efficiently could be a significant factor in overcoming these challenges.