The Silicon Review
Fintech has the potential to improve the banking experience for people from all walks of life. It is a rapidly growing industry that aims to bring the convenience of top-of-the-line banking services and e-commerce facilities to users’ fingertips. While a lot of Fintech companies provide services aimed at customers, there are a few who target businesses.
Rise Retail provides cutting-edge technology solutions for the retail industry. The company has developed a digital platform to help retailers engage their customers better and consolidate their sales and revenue generation.
In conversation with the founder of Rise Retail & Payment Solutions, Ajay Prasad
Q. Please describe the early stages of running your company.
Rise Retail was founded in Aug 2014 with a mission to develop enterprise skills and process automation in the small & medium enterprises to help them sustain and grow the challenge being faced from the online stores and large format stores who are targeting customers in and out. We spent the initial 8-12 months on bringing the technology infrastructure in place. Our initial product suite focused on enabling retailers using the consumer loyalty platform. Slowly we started developing propositions around analytics. In this journey, our aim was to focus on both propositions to retailers and on business front having a balance between key business matrices i.e. price, sales cost, and sales productivity. We worked extensively on the pricing front by continuously enhancing our product value. At present our service offerings have two different product suits – basic and advanced. This strategy is helping us in not just competing with the existing players but also gaining an edge over them.
It was a huge challenge to develop products from the scratch, take to the market and put a price tag to it. The business results on the quantitative front were not exactly as per our budgeted calculations. We were always on the edge in the initial years we focused more on riding on the learning curve and understanding the associated risk that we carried in parallel. At the same time, defining them clearly and estimating the effort/cost against it was important. We must accept that every small step helped us in achieving larger goal and failure is the biggest guide for success.
Q. What was the market scenario that inspired the idea for Rise Retail and Payment Solutions?
The Indian retail tech industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate and looks very promising in the coming years. From a technology perspective, India is a highly under penetrated market, with extremely poor penetration in the unorganized sector. However, the organized sector, which is concentrated in the major cities, the businesses have started being innovative. Overall, the industry lacks a stable distribution infrastructure, which increases acquisition costs which is a big challenge to growth. Slow technology adoption in the unorganized sector creates challenges for the businesses to keep adjusting their value positioning in the retailers’ minds. Lack of structured fund and high mortality rate of retailers adds to the challenges.
Rise Retail believes that the industry requires patience to educate retailers and works along with them to align offerings in the way they require. Staying relevant on the ground certainly pays off in the long run. Rise Retail has taken the lead and is firmly dedicated to educating retailers on managing the consumers using technology and analytics and help them to channelize their resources on micromanagement. This process itself will help Rise Retail build a large network of retailers.
Q. How was your company’s first project?
When we launched our loyalty platform, it took a lot of effort to educate and convince retailers to use the platform as a standalone product. This industry has an inherent challenge where every retailer wants a short cut to enhance their business and customer base. There are multiple companies who are thriving on the apparent fulfillment of this gap and keeping retailers away from handling the real issues. The industry has low acceptance of any solution which is “slow and steady” in approach in improving business health. In the initial days, our push to retailers did help us create a good branding for the company. Now things are very different and are under greater control.
Q. How do you manage your company’s offerings in a highly volatile market?
In my view, market needs are not too volatile (at least in our industry and segment). The key to success is to understand and estimate the need of consumers and making an effort to fulfill the same in an affordable manner. With a larger customer base, we must identify the right target customer segment and work around that. Any market sophistications are enablers of the delivery of our commitments. When you look at the organized sector (5-7 % of the base), volatility comes from the availability of newer and sophisticated products. And this process creates a niche segment on its own.
Q. If you had to list five reasons for your company’s success, what would they be?
Q. Where do you see your company a few years from now?
Like all successful companies, Rise Retail & Payment Solutions has a vision for innovation, growth, and expansion. The company is focused on horizontal growth which will help them expand their portfolio of solutions and services at the same time. This could be achieved by creating a distribution system which is a first ever in the retail sector. Though many companies struggle to balance scalability and profitability, Rise Retail & Payments Solutions aims to perfect this balance by first building a strong base and then bring in the products. Web-enabled products and solutions are the company’s next project which would let them connect all the consumers engaged with the retail stores. Furthermore, the firm also looks at expanding its retail base drastically and enabling it with payment solutions.
Background on the stalwart behind Rise, Retail and Solutions, Ajay Prasad
Founder Mr. Ajay Prasad is an expert in the payments domain and has held leadership positions in the industry. A management graduate from IMDR Pune, Mr. Prasad has worked in the corporate sector for 14 years before starting Rise Retail in 2014. During his corporate exposure, he worked with various banking corporations (ICICI/HSBC Bank) and payment Processors (Prizm/ Electra Card) in India. He has also served in a leadership role of a JV between First Data and SCB where he managed Indian and Sri Lankan businesses.
Ajay Prasad is an avid sports person and a singer with a deep interest in human psychology and Indian politics.
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