Inside TradeGecko’s Bid to Transition Southeast Asia into the Cloud

CEO says their software works best for brand creators and wholesale distributors

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 25 May 2017


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Singapore-based inventory management software TradeGecko was born out of a failed traditional business. Co-founder Carl Thompson had been operating the Crowded Elevator, a clothing company based out of New Zealand. But the company went bust because of operational issues, such as inventory management, cash flow issues, and payment collection, among others.

To help other entrepreneurs, Thompson, together with Cameron Priest who serves as CEO, decided to build TradeGecko, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company targeting SMEs. It develops online inventory and order management software, and is arguably one of the most successful start-ups to emerge out of Singapore-based accelerator program JFDI Asia.

And while TradeGecko can be used for many different types of commerce businesses, Thompson says it works best for brand creators and wholesale distributors.

“TradeGecko lets them run their business from a single dashboard and offers wholesalers a private B2B e-commerce and ordering platform. They can build price lists for individual retailers, sell globally, and enjoy brand consistency with customized invoices and paperwork,” Priest says.

Businesses can avail of TradeGecko as a subscription they can either pay monthly or annually. The firm currently has over tens of thousands of enterprise users, spread over 90 countries.

Reliability is key

Priest understands that moving to a cloud-based platform is a big move for any business. Hence, TradeGecko must communicate its reliability. “TradeGecko is the system of record for their business, so knowing that we’re always on and ready to go is critical,” he says.

TradeGecko also has to address some region- and customer-specific issues. Priest notes that Asia is still transitioning to the cloud stage, for example.

“The first difficulty we faced was selling to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) as they’re hard to acquire in a cost-effective manner. Singapore is considered a good market, but SMBs in the region are slow to adopt cloud software. How do we teach the 80,000 SMBs in Singapore about cloud-based order and inventory management software? That’s a challenge,” he says.

In addition, some companies may leapfrog straight to mobile products.

“We are also seeing an interesting shift regionally where a lot of companies will skip using laptop computers and move straight to mobile business software where possible. In the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, U.K., etc., they’ve already gone past that, so regional awareness and education are very important,” he says.

As part of this education process, TradeGecko creates a lot of content designed to help customers solve the problems they face every day. Their early partnerships with SaaS products Xero and Shopify also taught TradeGecko best practices in user acquisition and customer support.

Companies who avail of TradeGecko enjoy many benefits. Priest cited the case of FCTRY as an example, which began as a way to showcase an artist’s work but has since evolved into a wholesale and retail business.

“TradeGecko serves as a hub for all their separate sales channels and integrations, and they’ve even built custom integrations that let them use TradeGecko for their business in a unique way - such as an integration that provides FCTRY with shipping estimates from USPS, FedEx, and UPS,” Priest says.

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