A technology start-up, Ucaaz, has kick-started its journey towards re-attracting buyers to retail grocery outlets in the neighbourhood from distant supermarkets, as it aims to improve customer experience through deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in retail stores throughout Pakistan.
“We aim to revive retail outlets by improving the supply of grocery items and delivering quality products at the best possible price,” Ucaaz Chief Executive Officer Syed Saad Ali said while talking to The Express Tribune.
He elaborated that retailers had lost business to supermarkets for reasons like lack of investment and professional team to successfully run their stores.
Lack of investment did not allow them to maintain stock of products and variety of each product. Besides, they failed to offer best possible price due to the presence of middlemen and wholesalers in the supply chain management of goods from factories to their shops. More importantly, some of them were lacking the environment to attract customers.
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Besides, there are at least two people required to successfully run a shop; one to remain present at the reception and another to bring in supplies from wholesale markets.
“We have addressed such problems through deploying technology and artificial intelligence (AI),” he said, adding that Ucaaz would invest in maintaining stock of groceries at shops no matter how much capital every shop requires to run it successfully.
Ali, who has a 20-year experience in IT and software designing, said that IT and AI would keep the startup updating round-the-clock as to which products, variety and brand is in demand at each location through the retail network nationwide.
The system would highlight which product’s stock is near finishing and by what time the stock is required to be refilled so that customers do not return home empty hands or go to other shops to acquire goods in demand.
The startup charges a franchise fee on an average of Rs1.5 million from retail partners and supplies goods worth as much as required. The deposits would be returned if and when the partnership ceases to work.
“We have spent a huge amount of money to deploy technology hardware and software, AI-based cameras to know customers’ demand, point of sales (POS) to charge payment through plastic cards,” the CEO mentioned.
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“Initially, we supply goods worth Rs3 million to Rs4 million at each store,” he said. “We are also taking online orders of minimum value worth Rs200 per each order and the orders are guaranteed to be delivered maximum in 90 minutes.”
“We are targeting to open a total of 140 outlets alone in Karachi over the next six months. Then we would start doing so in other major cities of the country.”
Ucaaz is targeting to open as many as 500 stores throughout Pakistan. Later on, they have plans to tap the international market including Turkey and Indonesia.
“We received an offer to kick-start the startup from Turkey, but we are Pakistanis and preferred to do it first for our own country,” he said.
The startup has Pakistani investment partners living in the US, and UAE.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2021.
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