With the increased modernisation of the retail market in India, the point-of-sale (POS) segment too is rapidly growing to cater to this growing digitisation of the market space. However, a huge chunk of the retail space is yet to be organised, and is highly fragmented. The local kirana shops, owner-manned general stores, chemists, footwear shops, apparel shops, paan shops, hand-cart hawkers and pavement vendors are still going strong, and are yet to be digitised with point-of-sale.
While the POS systems are available online on different portals, the idea of an online store for POS is relatively new in India. “We established JusTransact as an e-commerce portal for POS exclusively to bring brands and even our competing distributors under one point. This just gives greater impact and reaches the needed segment. We need to begin with engaging and teaching the market on the relevance and importance of POS and this needs to be a joint endeavour,” says Bhaskar Venkataraman, Founder of JusTransact.
JusTransact was established to reach out to a larger segment of the Indian retail landscape, and give them access to the best POS products and solutions as used in the organised space. JusTransact was started by Bhaskar Venkataraman, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. He says,”I began my professional life as an accountant, but felt that I was more suited for sales so I joined Epson India.”
Talking about his foray into the POS segment, Bhaskar says, “When I was working with Epson, they had launched point-of-sale products, and since then I have been a part of the POS category.” During that time, it was a very niche product, and the team had to educate the market from scratch on the relevance and importance of the product. “It was a difficult task as the product pricing was two times the price of the standard printers that was used in the retail markets. Our target focus was restricted to the retail industry,” says Bhaskar.
Beginnings of an inclusive POS marketplace
Even after quitting Epson, for which he was managing the southern markets, Bhaskar continued to work closely in the POS segment. In 2009, he started his own business, Millennium Softech, where they became the distributor for Epson and added Honeywell for their scanning and mobility products, like the bar code scanners and hand-held terminals. Soon, they tied with a Taiwanese multinational into touch screen systems and POS machines. Then the team tied up with Social Bar, for the bar code scanners.
This distribution network and tie ups do not compete but rather compliment one another and work towards the growth of the point-of-sale industry. “If you take Epson for example into point-of-sale printers, Posiflex is into terminals, Honeywell is into bar code scanners and Toshiba, the bar code printers. So all of these put together make an efficient POS terminal for a customer,” says Bhaskar.
“This year, we had a turnover of over INR 40 crores, and we’re looking for a wider expansion of the business,” says Bhaskar. While they have offices across different metros, expanding into new offices meant more investment and a longer time. Talking about the movement into establishing JusTransact, Bhaskar says, “That’s when the e-commerce industry started booming in India. We felt that Internet would be a better platform to support our expansion plan. As they aren’t as expensive as a brick and mortar structure, and the coverage the Internet has just cannot be challenged. So we thought let’s sling our current line of products online.”
Elaborating further, he says, “But then, we thought of our customer and realised that the current problem in the point-of-scale category is the problem of awareness. Only eight-to-five percent of the entire retail market in the country is point-of-scale-enabled. While the biggies have POS in their stores, a huge chunk of the unorganised market still remains to be automated. This is purely because of the lack of awareness. We thought rather than just promoting our product, we will educate the market on the importance of automation. We wanted to take the whole POS segment with us; everybody has a role to play. We even got in our competitors, because we believe that nobody will eat into each other’s share. Customers need to know about the various options that are available, and they should be able to pick and choose for themselves.”
Idea of an all-inclusive POS e-commerce portal
With this idea in mind, they began talking to several manufacturers to contribute to this endeavour. “We got a good response from a few, while few others were apprehensive as to how it would benefit them. It was a long process, and now it has been over a year. Many manufacturers understand the value we have and give,” adds Bhaskar.
The portal was launched in April 2014, and initially worked as an information only site. It provides information on products and services in the POS segment for varied businesses. “While retail is generic, each vertical needs a different set-up. We have broken it into grocery, food and beverages, entertainment, apparel and many other such verticals. It has all the information needed by any kind of retailer, thus, we have ensured that the content remains simple,” says Bhaskar.
The portal currently houses more than 40 of the world’s leading manufacturers spread over 1000 and more products that cover over 15 categories and over 12 industry wise solutions.