ShopUp is a leading full-stack B2B commerce platform for neighbourhood shops and online sellers in Bangladesh. Can you please elaborate on your business model? What kind of services does it offer to its users? How do they help solve their (stores) existing issues?
ShopUp is a leading full-stack B2B commerce platform; it implies, we are a platform that provides 360-degree solutions focusing on business-to-business services only. Our clients are SMEs, MSMEs, micro-merchants, small businesses.

Afeef Zaman, Co-founder and CEO, ShopUp

ShopUp primarily has four services:

  • B2B Sourcing
  • Last-mile logistics – RedX
  • Embedded Finance
  • Business Management Solutions

The SME(s) involved with us can procure goods using the B2B Sourcing service from wholesalers at a minimal price. It also saves them a lot of time as they do not have to travel around to procure the goods, neither are they having to deal with multiple wholesalers or distributions channels. Our last-mile logistics which is also currently the leading last-mile logistics in the country with a footprint in all the thanas of Bangladesh supports the SME’s by helping them deliver to the end customer.

ShopUp’s Embedded Finance support allows the SME and MSME(s) involved with us to pursue eLoan and Digital Credit as working capital solutions with the help of various financial institutions.Business Management Solutions enables our SME partners to avail of various services that increase efficiency in their business. Through our services, we are enabling SMEs to focus on their business and enabling them to operate smoothly.

How will digitising the mom-and-pop stores will benefit them in terms of sustainability and revenue generation?

Digitalising mom and pop shops facilitate a more efficient supply chain for the businesses, paving the way for higher revenues. Often, the owners have to deal with numerous wholesalers and distributors, that too in between their business hours.
Through ShopUp, they have access to different brands, distributors and suppliers under a single platform – this in turn not only saves their business hours but also gives them more options to explore more brands and products.

What are the challenges that you/your team have faced since the start of this journey? How have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges that we have faced is the lack of a skilled workforce. Skilled labour is essential for the growth of any entity irrespective of the sector. Unfortunately, the best talents in the country are not very eager to work in startups. Instead, most of them lean towards the established companies.

I focus a lot on recruiting. As a founder, I think it is my responsibility to make sure that the right talents are there to take the company platform forward. As we are intensely focusing on engineering, our target was to recruit promising talents from the sector. Considering the situation, we opened a ShopUp Bengaluru Engineering Centre. Currently, we have a local (Banglore) company merged with us, allowing us to hire engineering talents from India.

The pandemic has facilitated the mass adaptation of digital services in Bangladesh. How has that contributed to ShopUp’s recent growth? Can you please share some details?

COVID-19 has increased the strain on the traditional supply-chain ecosystem, with a sudden rise in demand from consumers looking for essential goods. The number of neighbourhood shops transacting weekly on the ShopUp platform has grown by 8.5 times between April and August 2020. Additionally, to cope with the impact of the pandemic, many smaller retail shops in Bangladesh have moved to online channels such as Facebook to reach new customers. It has created a massive long-tail demand for last-mile logistics. ShopUp’s last-mile logistics team, RedX, is partnering with these shops and is now the largest last-mile delivery service provider in Bangladesh, processing thirteen times more parcels daily than it did in April.

The pandemic has facilitated the mass adaptation of digital services in Bangladesh. How has that contributed to ShopUp’s recent growth? Can you please share some details?
The pandemic has increased the strain on the traditional supply-chain ecosystem, with a sudden rise in demand from consumers looking for essential goods. The number of neighbourhood shops transacting weekly on the ShopUp platform has grown by 8.5 times between April and August 2020. Additionally, to cope with the impact of the pandemic, many smaller retail shops in Bangladesh have moved to online channels such as Facebook to reach new customers. It has created a massive long-tail demand for last-mile logistics. ShopUp’s last-mile logistics team, RedX, is partnering with these shops and is now the largest last-mile delivery service provider in Bangladesh, processing thirteen times more parcels daily than it did in April.

The pandemic has undoubtedly facilitated the adaptation of digital services among the general population. It has helped our target population to adapt to technology as well. At the same time, our SME and MSME partners could procure goods from online for their shops, while RedX has also helped them to extend their reach. We are currently, the country’s leading last-mile logistics service provider.

Recently, ShopUp has raised $22.5 million in a round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures. What new features and innovations can we expect from the company?

We are trying to digitally transform the most fragmented offline retail in the region.
This investment is aimed at introducing and driving new features to our current services.
We will expand our R&D and operations and hire capable talents for the cause who will be a part of the journey where we enable more micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs to drive Bangladesh forward. We want to ensure that our retail reach is increasing and partnership with manufacturers is deepening while we focus on building tech-first infrastructure.