Enabled By Artificial Intelligence, Malaysia-based B2B Marketplace Startup Dropee Aims to Empower Mom-and-Pop Stores In the Region

Dropee, a Malaysian artificial intelligence-powered business to business wholesale (B2B) marketplace startup, utilizes technology to distinguish itself from its competitors by leveraging predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to enable local retailers and mom-and-pop stores to better source products and manage their inventory in a more efficient manner, by predicting which products will be in high demand beforehand. This sets Dropee apart from the other business to business marketplace platforms, which primarily operate as online distributors or as intermediaries. The edge that technology provides allows the Malaysian startup to offer an intriguing solution to local retailers and family-owned businesses that enables them to transform and innovate the way they stock inventory by lowering barriers, minimizing risks and providing capital access.

Lennise Ng, chief executive officer of Dropee, said that the recent emergence of e-commerce platforms means that traditional large chain retailers have to steel themselves to adapt to the new commerce landscape. Nevertheless, small retailers such as mom-and-pop stores still retain a competitive advantage that is not so easily duplicated by other businesses, and that is their profound connection to their local communities. When it comes to direct interactions between customers and retailers, family-owned businesses are still the best at servicing their customers and have done so for many years.

According to Aizat Rahim, chief operating officer and co-founder of Dropee, one of the primary motivators that drive the startup to succeed is their dedication and commitment to helping local independent retailers to maintain their traditions and way of living. For instance, their local neighborhood retail shops are operated by business owners who have a keen stake in the local communities’ well-being. As such, they understand how to best serve the needs of their local communities, and Dropee wants to help them go further in this regard. Aizat added that the interests of local retailers such as family-owned businesses are frequently neglected even though they often make up a significant portion of the economy and play a crucial role in the supply chain industry.

In order to help local independent retailers thrive, the B2B startup addresses two pain points that they face in running their business: inventory risk and access to credit term payments. Dropee offers risk-free returns on products so that local retailers are emboldened to try out new products and introduce them to their local communities. As for financing, the startup offers sixty-day credit terms to all physical local retailers when they buy things on their platform. This allows small local businesses to overcome the issues of having no collateral for loans and undocumented paperwork.

Recently, the Malaysian startup has been selected by renowned American seed accelerator Y Combinator to be a part of its Winter 2020 batch. This makes Dropee just one of two startups from Malaysia to be accepted into the distinguished Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator program, the other one being food delivery startup dahmakan which graduated from the program in 2017.

Moving forward, Dropee plans on expanding its presence across its existing market of Malaysia. It also has its eyes set on entering new regional markets such as Thailand and Indonesia, and is currently searching for promising marketing and technology talents to join its ranks.

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Derek Tan

Derek is the news editor at Absolute Market, a news media focusing on the Southeast Asian tech and startup scene. Contact him at derek [at] absolutemarket.org for any news pitch.