BY TOM JACKSON
Ghanaian retail-tech startup Shopa says it is “redefining” informal retail distribution and supply chain by connecting last-mile retailers with suppliers, and enabling access to stock on cash or credit.
Formed in August 2020 after identifying challenges faced by informal retailers in their restocking process and their inability to access credit facilities, Shopa leverages digital tools and an integrated delivery network to help informal retailers restock and receive delivery within four hours, without leaving their shops.
“We identified the inventory sourcing for informal retailers from suppliers was costly in terms of extra cost they incur on transportation, revenue lost due to shops being close to go to the market to restock, and lack of access to microcredit due to being considered as not credit worthy,” co-founder Michael Hammond told Disrupt Africa.
Shopa aims to fix these problems, allowing shop owners to make orders via SMS, WhatsApp or web app, and have goods delivered straight to their stores. So far it has helped more than 2,000 customers make almost 14,000 transactions, and it is seeking further growth.
“We are operating in Ghana at the moment, and there are plans to expand to other African countries in the future,” Hammond said.
There is capital available to speed this expansion. Shopa raised pre-seed investment from MEST, and has since secured grant funding from Google and Catalyst Fund. The startup makes money from commissions on the products sold through its platform, as well as via credit given to its customers through third parties. Hammond said it is confident of carving out market share for itself in what is an increasingly busy space.
“Traditional distributors and wholesalers are our potential competitors. Other players such as TradeDepot, Alerzo, Omnibiz, Sokowatch and Boost Technology in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana respectively are doing similar things,” he said.
“However, this industry is huge, and together we are pioneering a new model of distribution.”