EMERGING ENTERPRISE 2022

Eezee makes B2B procurement easy

The one-stop marketplace allows hassle-free purchasing of industrial and business supplies

PROCURING low-value items for one's business - safety gloves, cleaning tools and stationery, say - can be a chore, but business-to-business (B2B) marketplace Eezee is trying to make this easier.

Co-founder Logan Tan realised the troublesome nature of such bulk purchases when working as head of procurement in a construction firm in 2014. His team of six was bogged down by the sheer number of loose, one-off purchases of low-value items - termed as "tail spend" in procurement - that they had to make.

"They needed to source for multiple quotations from different sources, then liaise with suppliers who are traditionally offline - through phone calls, emails or sometimes even faxes," Tan told The Business Times. As a result, the entire procurement process could take over two weeks, from sourcing to the eventual issuing of a purchase order.

He figured that there was room in the market for an "Amazon-like" platform where suppliers could list products and companies could make purchases in minutes "with a few clicks".

And so, in 2018, Eezee was born. The firm's B2B digital procurement platform integrates with businesses' existing enterprise resource planning systems such as Oracle and SAP, enabling "seamless" data transfer, so that these procurement decisions do not need to be manually entered, Tan said.

Instead of having to source independently for quotations and screen suppliers, buyers can treat each listing as a quotation. Eezee has over 2,000 suppliers, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which have all been verified and authorised by the platform.

Tan wanted to build an "Amazon-like" platform that would make procuring industrial and business supplies easy. PHOTO: BT FILE

After setting up separate platforms in Malaysia and Indonesia in December 2021, Eezee now has monthly sales of more than 10,000 unique items - each of which may consist of multiple units - across its three markets.

"There are many legacy businesses out there who know how to sell products, but they don't know digitalisation. That's how we come in to help them, by creating a centralised platform that's easy for them to just list products for sale without any upfront costs," said Tan.

On the demand side, Eezee's customers are mainly larger enterprises, with the majority from the oil & gas and aerospace sectors. It also serves government agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and GovTech.

"Buying is very fragmented for large organisations; they could be buying anything from lightbulbs, to safety helmets, to ball bearings," said Tan. "It's a huge pain point for them to control these procurement expenses, as they are buying so many different items for so many employees."

Stronger, sustainable supply chains

The novelty of Eezee's platform meant that it took some time for companies and suppliers to warm to it, after its launch in Singapore. Its first milestone was securing a multi-million dollar contract with energy giant Shell in June 2019. Though organisations can simply purchase items from Eezee's marketplace without such arrangements, having a contract allows them to stipulate obligations in areas such as fulfilment and delivery.

Then the pandemic hit, and Eezee saw a spike in orders as businesses rushed to procure masks, test kits and other Covid-19 related supplies. The company, which takes a cut of every transaction on the platform, has since seen a fivefold increase in revenue year on year.

"Many firms were initially sceptical about us, and weren't sure if they could trust us to give them the best price and deliver their products. But then a lot of them actually came back to us to say they needed masks," said Tan.

Despite its recent growth, Eezee is not resting on its laurels. To tackle ongoing global supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations, the company introduced new features to its platform to better serve customers, Tan said.

In September, it launched a service called "Ex-Stock", where customers can pay to store supplies in Eezee's warehouse and draw down from that stock when needed. This gives companies greater assurance of securing inventory at a fixed price, and strengthens the resilience of their supply chains, Tan added.

Sustainability is another key focus for the firm. Eezee is working with the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme to roll out a green catalogue in six months' time. This is a curated list of suppliers that have achieved Singapore Green Label Certification.

"Let's say you're buying a product from us. We can tell you what's the greener alternative, how much (buying that would mean) you're contributing to your ESG (environmental, social, governance) initiative, and send you a report on that," said Tan.

Crossing borders

Tan's goal is for Eezee to gain customers and suppliers in more industries in Singapore, such as the semiconductor and maritime and offshore engineering sectors. He is aiming for the company to reach profitability in the next six to 12 months.

Eezee is also eyeing Philippines and Thailand next for expansion: in August, it raised US$7.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Ayala Corporate Technology Innovation Venture Fund, a venture capital firm backed by Philippine conglomerate Ayala.

Tan hopes for Eezee's platforms to enable cross-border B2B e-commerce in the future. At the moment, suppliers on each Eezee platform can only sell to their respective local markets.

"Our dream is to have platforms across all the countries in South-east Asia that will allow SMEs to sell to whichever markets they want to penetrate," he said.

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