Africa’s informal retailers supply most of the continent’s population with a broad range of consumer goods and generate over $1 trillion in sales annually. However, troubles with outward inefficiencies and inward challenges have led to the prominence of B2B e-commerce startups across the region, which provide various tech-enabled solutions to address access to products and capital.
One of the players TechCrunch has featured in this space within the past year is Omnibiz, a Lagos-based B2B e-commerce and retail platform that connects fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) manufacturers to retailers by digitizing the supply chain stakeholders. Deepanker Rustagi founded the company in 2019 after years of running the now-defunct VConnect.
Omnibiz operates an asset-light retail distribution model. When a retailer makes orders on the Omnibiz platform, the goods are requested from partner distributors (traditionally known to help with warehousing and transportation) who store goods on behalf of manufacturers. With Omnibiz, these distributors can focus solely on warehousing and pass on the responsibility of transporting goods to third-party logistics providers, who distribute orders to the retailers within 24 hours.
Last August, the startup raised $3 million to expand into new markets within the country. The platform, which offers a mobile app, a WhatsApp channel, and a phone number that retailers can use to stock their shops, has since expanded its footprints into 12 cities across Nigeria while completing its first Pan-African move into Ghana.
“We have expanded in terms of the number of retailers,” Rustagi told TechCrunch about the company’s growth since its seed raise. “We’ve expanded in cities, geographically, and we have improved the overall system; the retention of the retailer, even with growing competition, has been phenomenal. And I think that’s what equips us for the next race.”