Exclusive Interaction – Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce

SaaS markets take different turns in different parts of Asia because of the local characteristics of these markets. To a large extent, these variations will also impact other segments in the IT industry. Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce, whose Indian SaaS company transcends international boundaries, discusses these aspects with us

After lockdown, how is the market situation of West Asian countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia for Indian IT businesses such as SaaS providers? What are the advantages for the Indian entrepreneurs doing business in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

Kapil Makhija – The overall SaaS market across the world has grown in the last one year as companies have accelerated their digital transformation journey to build a strong foundation for the future. Companies across sectors are coming online and adopting technology solutions. Specific to West Asia, UAE and Saudi Arabia are two markets with the highest internet penetration making it a perfect choice in West Asia.

Additionally, we have seen that post lockdown, the market situation is similar to India. There has been increasing acceptability towards technology solutions and faster adoption. KSA and UAE E-commerce market overall is at a similar position where India was 3-4 years back. These regions are currently in the process of building the overall ecosystem and it’s an opportunity for Indian companies as the technical understanding and advancement in India is much higher which enables them to solve the business problems in these markets easily.

We recently further strengthened our foothold in the West Asian market with setting up operations in Saudi Arabia. We understand the challenges faced by E-commerce companies and E-tailers in an emerging E-commerce market like Saudi Arabia and will provide them with best-in-class software solutions which will enable them to improve business efficiency and help them grow at a much faster pace.

How is the market situation in Malaysia after the lockdown? What advantages do the Indian entrepreneurs have there?

Kapil Makhija – E-commerce in Malaysia is on a growth trajectory. While the country is dealing with the pandemic, E-commerce continued to grow. The region is also witnessing a lot of SMEs adopting E-commerce solutions. Social commerce as a trend is also picking up in the country, just like in India. Furthermore, we believe that Indian entrepreneurs have an edge over others as the online business is growing and there is increasing acceptance for digital solutions in the country.

We at Unicommerce are uniquely positioned to provide E-commerce supply chain technology cloud solutions to help industry players of all sizes and across regions to manage their business efficiently.  We offer seamless integrations across marketplaces, shopping carts, logistics providers and ERP solutions.

How do the West Asian and South-East Asian Markets compare to the Indian market?

Kapil Makhija – India stands tall as one of the strongest digital hubs across the globe. Moreover, the Digital India programme has spurred technology adoption among Indian enterprises and consumers. The country is detail-oriented, with great knowledge and expertise in technology for businesses. It is also a price-sensitive market. South-East Asia is very similar to India and the region has people with strong technical skills and competitive in nature, with similar levels of price sensitivity as in the Indian market.

On the other hand, the West Asian market is more impact-driven and needs more hand-holding in the initial phase. The language barrier also exists to a certain extent, therefore, these markets become relationship-driven.

One thing that stands common for all regions is the basic requirement of local presence. Companies often look for a team/ people they can reach out to in the region if they face any trouble. In order to address that, companies should build a partner network or create a local team that can be there for customer service.

How is the reception of the SaaS platform in India after lockdown?

Kapil Makhija – India’s SaaS market has seen a sharp increase in acceptance of digital solution post lockdown. Companies across the sectors realised that digital solutions can help in improving business efficiency. According to NASSCOM, Indian SaaS companies are growing 1.5 times the growth of the global SaaS market. A report released by Bain and Company in 2020 suggested that India’s SaaS market share could double in the next three years. Multiple SaaS startups have become a Unicorn in the span of last one year.

It’s not just companies; consumers are also going digital, the consistent increase in E-commerce adoption across the country is the testimony of the changing retail industry of India. The increased adoption of digital platforms amongst consumers will have a ripple effect on organisations. Companies will have to adapt and invest in technology solutions to meet the rising consumer demand. There has been increasing acceptance in the India market too for SaaS solutions. As per IDC, most organisations in India have adopted Cloud at some stage, and with the current situation, Indian companies are expected to spend more on public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions, and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Our company has witnessed a 400% increase in business queries and faster conversion rate. Furthermore, the enterprise business saw phenomenal growth in the last few months with traditional sectors like FMCG now adopting online solutions.

Do you face any challenges in these markets and how do you resolve these challenges?

Kapil Makhija – Every market has its own set of unique problems. The first step is to understand the local problems and work extensively on feedback by the client. While building a strong foundation in the country, we have dealt with a variety of customers facing different kinds of challenges.  We bring along this expertise which has made us prepared to deal with challenges in different markets.

For example, in markets such as KSA and Vietnam, language is a barrier but that can be addressed by a partner network or small but agile team in the region.

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