15 November 2016 09:19:23 IST

Propelling ‘inclusive growth’ by empowering small enterprises

B2B e-commerce start-up Tolexo shows how business can drive ‘deep social impact’

Startup Island zooms in on how Tolexo, a leading B2B e-commerce player, claims to have gone about empowering both sellers and buyers on its platform. We ask how a business can potentially impact the stakeholders it serves while ensuring its own health.

Since starting off in early 2015, Tolexo has sought to “change the way businesses shop”. As an IndiaMART company, Tolexo leverages the parent company’s buyer and seller networks and offers more than 10 lakh products, serving SME customers in over 900 cities and towns across India.

Brijesh Agrawal, Founder-CEO, says, “Empowering both sellers and buyers involves creating price transparency, product authenticity and convenience for our buyers while encouraging Gen X talent and local labels among its SME sellers.”

Buyer advantage

From technology to services, Tolexo attempts to offer “an integrated experience” and “frictionless commerce” through smoother selections, payments, customer support and fulfilment. But authentic products and transparent prices needed to back this up. Agrawal gives the example of a Jabalpur-based dealer in tools and safety products who would spend a few days every month scouting Chandni Chowk, going from seller to seller, hoping to buy genuine products and negotiating for the best prices. He’d often end up paying more or buying a fake product, which increased the ‘cost of ownership’ for his business. Tolexo has reportedly changed this by making a range of prices from genuine sellers visible to such buyers. “Small businesses we talk to say around 15-50 per cent of their purchases can end up being fakes. We’ve been able to bypass the offline channel altogether for our buyers,” says Agrawal.

Seller benefits

In industrial hubs and markets like Chandni Chowk, many B2B sellers deal in jewellery to textiles, hardware to electrical and electronic products to food. Agrawal provides the example of another seller of industrial safety products whose business had been growing steadily over two decades, even hitting revenues of ₹25 crore. After partnering with Tolexo, the business made ₹35 crore – a change that came about when a younger member of his family, who didn’t initially view the family business as a career prospect, realised the shifts online platforms like Tolexo were bringing about.

If such examples are to be believed, they indicate whispers of change happening in India among Gen X in small town India. Agrawal says, “It has a deep social impact when the younger generation is instrumental in growing the family business. ”