RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Singapore

How Tinvio is automating multiple aspects of supply management

It built a communication platform made solely for streamlining the merchant-supplier process.

Retail businesses, especially ones that constantly need to keep their shelves and inventories stocked, such as the food and beverages (F&B) industry, are constantly in touch with their suppliers to keep their business afloat. But as simple as it may seem, the process takes time and is also prone to multiple human errors from order to delivery. Tinvio, a communication and commerce startup, has digitised this experience by setting up a platform where merchants can interact and transact with all their suppliers in one interface.

Ajay Gopal, founder and CEO of Tinvio, shared that most restaurant owners take a look around their kitchens, estimate how much they will order and scroll through their Whatsapp in search for different suppliers. The sales representatives of those suppliers will then transfer the details via email into the head offices, before heading into the suppliers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or warehouse management system.

“So it's a process that has multiple human touch points and multiple points for mistakes, and it's completely not traceable. So if tomorrow someone says, ‘Oh, it was a mistake with the order’ and wants to try to figure out whose fault it is, it sort of becomes a goose hunt where you need to look through WhatsApp conversations and figure out what went wrong,” Ajay added.

Tinvio offers a chat-to-order app that replaces this. It also includes a smart feature where a merchant can review past transactions in a data-structured manner so that merchants do not always need to type in their orders. Users will also be able to track their orders and automate their invoices. They can also make a customised report of their orders through the app based on these transactions.

“If you want to place an order, have that clear black-and-white transaction history, report an issue very clearly instead of using a text, let's use a very structured format so that there's always visibility, accountability and transparency,” Ajay said.

He also added that they’re taking a lot of opportunities from SMEs that are looking to digitise their supply chains, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in. Most of Tinvio’s clients are in F&B, medical clinics, retail stops and snack shops. Tinvio’s app is free to use unless their clients request a special, custom workflow.

“We want to convince people to use [social communication platforms] for their lifestyle conversations and to use Tinvio for all of the order experience. That's what we think about as the biggest challenge in terms of convincing people to join in our view,” Ajay stated. “However, we have the benefit of building and designing products that solve a very specific set of use cases for our customers.”

In April, Tinvio bagged $7.65m (US$5.5m) led by Sequoia Capital’s Surge accelerator programme. This brings its total funding amount to $9.04m (US$6.5m) since they started in July 2019. The fresh funds will be used to add more features in their app, addressing more merchant-supplier pain points, such as manual reconstruction of invoices, the use of cash and cheques, as well as the manual search for new suppliers. 

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