Emerging market B2B e-commerce platforms

type - big idea
Big Idea
sector - media & technology
sector - retail
B2B e-commerce start-ups in emerging markets are championing small retailers, enabling them to order more cheaply and service a broader customer base

Brazil: Olist

Online retail in Brazil is growing fast, accounting for 12.4% of overall sales, up 12.6% between Q1 2022 and the same period the previous year, according to the MCC-ENET index. Leading categories include: office supplies (42.5%); furniture and home appliances (28.7%); fabrics, clothing and footwear (10.5%); drugstore items (7.2%); general merchandise (5.4%); and grocery products (3.9%).

Olist connects small businesses to larger marketplaces. It offers merchants support by managing product catalogues, inventory, pricing, fulfilment, customer service and payments in a single place. The SaaS (software as a service) product integrates operations across the fragmented Brazilian market. Without the system, the typical small seller has to use seven different systems to access the five main marketplaces, while needing to understand taxation in 27 states to comply with government requirements.

Egypt: Cartona

Egypt's retail market is worth £101.6bn ($120bn, €120bn), with food and beverages alone valued at £59.3bn ($70bn, €70bn). An estimated 400,000 retailers, including shops and international and domestic brands, are operating across the country, with the retail sector growing at 8% a year (source: TechCrunch).

Cartona is an Egypt-based B2B platform that is digitising the traditional trade market, enabling retailers to streamline operations through online ordering solutions. The platform connects retailers with FMCG producers and wholesalers, and already has more than 60,000 users, and works with more than 250 FMCG companies including brands like Henkel, Unilever, Bel and Mondelez. The start-up is also considering other verticals beyond FMCG, and says the product boosts financial inclusion for suppliers and retailers through its embedded finance, payments and operational integration.

Published by:

30 August 2022

Author: Savannah Scott and Petah Marian

Image: Minoan, US


Cartona, Egypt

West and Central Africa: Betastore

There are more than 10m informal retail outlets in West and Central Africa, representing more than 90% of the total trade in essential goods. In Nigeria alone, there are more than 1.5m outlets selling more than £10bn ($12bn, €12bn) worth of FMCG goods (source: Betastore).

Betastore is a B2B retail marketplace for informal retailers in West and Central Africa, that allows small retailers to order via SMS, chat, WhatsApp or through its app, improving on current processes in which store owners close their shops to go to open markets to source their products. It removes sales middlemen, allowing traders to access FMCG directly from manufacturers and distributors, keep products cost-competitive, while also giving businesses access to smart financing. It also integrates with logistics partners to ensure orders arrive in 24 hours. The Nigerian firm is planning to grow beyond its current footprint of Nigeria, Senegal and the Ivory Coast to include Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon.

Mexico: Miferia

E-commerce accounts for a relatively small proportion of Mexico’s overall retail sales (6% in 2020), but this figure is forecast to grow to 15% by 2023 (source: Barclays/Statista). But less than 1% of the country's B2B transactions are online, with the industry still largely reliant on cash transactions that require retailers to pay upfront for merchandise (source: MIferia).

Miferia is a B2B wholesale marketplace that connects independent retailers in Mexico with domestic brands across categories including cosmetics, food, beverage and home décor. Most retailers supply their stores through offline distributors and sales representatives, which requires a lot of manual labour and pushes prices up. In addition, shipping is expensive, so many retailers pick up their own inventory from the distributor. Miferia brings the supplier relationship online, helping retailers to expand their product selections and get more favourable credit terms. The platform offers more than 5,000 skus from over 500 brands, offers free shipping and handles payments.

‘We will continue empowering [mom-and-pop stores] via efficient and seamless solutions… aligning with our mission to help people better manage and control their businesses.’
Mahmoud Talaat, CEO and co-founder, Cartona

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