Brothers Rajul and Romil Jain and Anshuman Agarwal have more in common than being IIT graduates. They had all dabbled with start-ups and e-commerce companies before founding Increff (Incredible Efficiency). The start-up is a technology and analytics enterprise that uses data tools to help fashion and lifestyle brands optimise their inventory turnover, thereby helping them improve the return on capital. Their warehousing solution, for instance, acts as a marketplace, and allows brands to access warehousing services without incurring any capital expenditure.
Rajul recollects how his e-commerce days exposed him to the challenges and opportunities that retail offered. "Inventory is the biggest risk and at the same time the biggest asset. Inventory is everything," he says. But uncertainties like sale of stock, warehousing, right quantity of distribution and inventory management pose a big risk, especially for fashion brands. Rajul says, "If someone is able to solve the supply side problems in retail using technology, brands and retailers can grow phenomenally faster." Increff was set up to provide a solution to this problem.
Rajul used to head the supply chain at Myntra, India's largest fashion e-commerce player. Before that he had co-founded yebhi.com after having worked in the textile sector for almost a decade. Agarwal was also with Myntra, and had then joined Freshmenu as Senior VP in charge of national operations. Romal comes with the experience of enterprise software products, having worked with NGPay and DevFactory.
Increff, which was established in August 2016 in Bengaluru, began operations in January 2017. Their SaaS (Software as a Service) platform has two products - Iris and Assure. Rajul explains that the supply side of the retail sector has a few major components: what to make, how much to make, which store to showcase in, and what to replace. This is where Increff comes into play. "We help merchandisers take a far more informed and faster decision, after taking into account the historical data of the product, the company and consumption. We semi-automate the process," said Rajul.
The next step is for companies to either manufacture or source the products. Once they have the required products, they have to decide on distribution channels, and maximising inventory showcase. Increff's Assure automated platform helps here.
The platform allows brands get a single view of the inventory in warehouses as well as all sales channels (online or offline). This increases the speed of sales and Increff manages the outflow of supply by packing and dispatching from the warehouse using a unique barcode for each item. For example, using the start-up's platform, the customer can get the status of Amazon Prime demand without having to dedicate inventory for this.
"This gives brands and retailers the surety of maximising the sale of produced stock and efficient rotation. This essentially means better rotation of working capital and lesser need for capex," says Rajul.
The start-up's WaaS (Warehousing as a Service) management software manages the inventory of retailers and brands. "The focus is not managing the warehouse, but maximising the sales," says Rajul.
"Solving complexity at scale, Increff provides Puma with a stable platform that drives inventory efficiency across all channels, successfully bringing down order-to-ship SLAs (service-level agreements)," says Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India.
The start-up charges clients either a percentage of their revenue or pay-per-use. For WaaS it is per packet or item. Rajul says they have been able to improve client revenues by 25-30 per cent and margins by up to 5 per cent.
The start-up competes mainly with Unicommerce. Its automation software Uniware also helps e-commerce and physical retail supply chains. This seven-year-old start-up claims to have over 10,000 clients and is present in 220-plus cities in India and West Asia. While this seems like a huge gap to fill, Rajul says Increff has superior technology integration as well as warehousing support, which plays a critical role in overall efficiencies. Plus, while Iris has been built for fashion brands, Assure and WaaS have the potential to be explored by any sector.
Increff claims an annual revenue of $3 million 2017/18. In 2016, it raised an early seed funding of $2 million from Sequoia Capital and some domestic angel investors to build its technology products. Earlier this year, the company raised Series A funding of $2 million from 021 Capital (Sailesh Tulshan) and $1 million from Binny Bansal. The company currently has around 20 clients and manages 35-40 brands including Puma, Reliance Ajio, WROGN, Myntra, Arvind Group, Espirit, Mango, Ms Taken and Shopnaari. Increff plans to go international in Europe and West Asia with its Iris and Assure platforms.