Metacrust eCommerce Platform for CE Industry

Bangalore-based start-up Business Fuel LLP recently launched its new platform Metacrust.com – the first end-to-end e-commerce platform for the Infrastructure, Mining and Construction Equipment industry. The platform will act as a Resource Centre, a Decision Support System, and as a Ready Reckoner for the industry. Seema Gupta interacts with the young entrepreneurs to understand the unique business model of Metacrust.com

Surya Prakash Singh
"Metacrust.com will revolutionize the way infrastructure, mining and construction industry works in India. This fun and revolutionary H2H e-commerce platform will focus on both B2B and B2C markets. Through this trading platform for construction machinery, equipment, and their spare parts, customers can search for different brands and models of various companies, make comparisons, and place orders via web or through their smartphone, SMS/whatsapp," announced Surya Prakash Singh, co-Founder & CEO of Business Fuel LLP, during the launch.

Elaborating on the concept, he said, "End-users in the CE and mining industries are facing problems such as information gap, difficulty in financing, inability to make comparisons between products, need for timely maintenance, and quick availability of spare parts. Similarly, the OEMs are facing issues like unqualified leads, increased cost of marketing, difficulty in lead nurturing and customer rapport. With this new platform, we aim to eliminate most of the pain points faced by the people in the industry. Our prime focus is to make this comprehensive portal a default platform, and an end-to-end solution for all end-users."

Metacrust will cover Agriculture & Forestry, Cranes, Drilling, Earth Moving & Construction, Material Handling, Mining & Bulk Material Handling, Mining Plant & Machinery, Pile Driving, Plants & Machinery, Port Equipment, Public Utility Vehicles and Transportation Vehicles.

"The B2B e-commerce is twice as big as B2C e-commerce, and we fall under B2B cum B2C model. Opportunities are abundant but very less has been explored. For OEMs, service providers and allied industries, the benefits are enormous. They will get increased market reach including exposure to new markets, increase in enquiries and sales, and increase in customer satisfaction as this platform meets customer's entire needs. What's more, they will get a worldwide active digital presence, assurance of verified and qualified leads from potential buyers, skilled manpower supply, low cost marketing, low cost lead nurturing, quick redressal of complaints, and access to the network of Metacrust enablers working indirectly for OEMs and bringing in new customers," informed Surya.

One-click / One-call platform

Metacrust, a fully automatic, modular, H2H e-commerce enabled automated store will be able to handle hundreds of SKUs. Consumers can order their requirements 24/7. Retailers with low investment and operating costs can implement an actual store in strategic locations, reaching and meeting new customer's requirements for products, spare parts, maintenance services etc, by leveraging on proximity and convenience afforded by the virtual store.

Ashish Choudhary
But how viable will this business model be given that the industry is by and large not Internet savvy? "We understand the pain points of this industry with respect to Indian conditions. After due diligence, we have built a platform that can answer both traditional and digital market customers. The end-user or buyer can register on our platform free of cost, and pay by debit/credit card and Internet banking; and we will be introducing the EMI pay option too. While almost all the industries have solutions online, the heavy industry largely remains offline and non-tech savvy. Metacrust aims to help these non-tech savvy users to look for solutions online. We call it a H2H (Human to Human) e-commerce platform where we intend to be the voice of the seller as well as the buyer, and not just a lead or enquiry forwarding system. No other e-commerce player or platform has made this kind of effort for the heavy machines industry," said Ashish Choudhary, co-Founder & COO, Business Fuel LLP.

No doubt, the Metacrust,com platform for the CE industry is an ambitious project. Though the initial response to the online sales platform has been somewhat skeptical, the team has found encouragement too and has on board 162 companies within four months of its inception. During the 'testing' period it initiated sales to the tune of Rs.11 crore, and is currently in talks with leading OEMs like JCB and Caterpillar amongst others to register with them.

Assistance and advice

An end-user coming to the platform can view product ranges of different companies and their specifications, read reviews, make price comparisons, and also seek region-wise price quotations to negotiate the best deal after factoring in transport costs and taxes. Most showrooms and company brochures do not mention the TCI fees, and the customer is taken by surprise when the final cost is presented to him. This would enable him to make an informed purchase decision.

According to Surya, most OEM company websites see a lot of visits and enquiries, but very few or no closures. This is because the customer has to contend with both verified and unverified information on the websites, which leaves him confused and indecisive. The Metacrust solution will make available only the right, updated and OEM verified/authentic information, which would address all his queries.

A chat support system on Metacrust.com will enable the user to chat real time with an expert on the platform, who will seek facts such as: is the customer time centric, quality centric, or price centric. A first-time buyer will be advised on what, when, and where to buy, and whether it would be more financially feasible to rent/lease the equipment. With this understanding, Metacrust will do due diligence on the enquiry and then forward it to the supplier, who will take up the enquiry directly with the customer.

The Metacrust team will also extend assistance in documentation and other legal paperwork. It also plans to rope in sales agents as 'business ambassadors' who will forward leads to the platform and will be given incentives/commission in return, irrespective of deal closures. Metacrust has already roped in 2000 agents in Karnataka and Kerala.

Gamut of services

Metacrust.com will comprise of three platforms: for buying new equipment/machines, for selling and renting machines; and for buying spare parts and accessories. Additional services will include logistics, insurance, and financial loans to the user. These platforms are designed to ease information sourcing, make enquiries, negotiate prices, place orders, and ensure timely delivery of the goods/products ordered at buyer's doorstep.

Prashanth Narayan
"Explained Prashanth Narayan, CMO, Business Fuel LLP, "The recently launched Metacrust.com/shop is a platform for availability of certified aftermarket spares and accessories, and will also facilitate management of inventory, sales and logistics. Our team is already working on inventory management system, which will be offered free of cost to dealers and service renders for the time they are with us. Currently, we have partnered with logistics providers covering 16000 pin codes in India. Getting spare parts and timely maintenance service are the biggest challenges for equipment users as they come in short supply from the OEMs, and can take days to reach them. By offering all of these services, we hope to act as a troubleshooter for the industry. We are confident that a huge number of service providers will register with us."

The company is currently in talks with different loan providers like HDFC and Kotak banks and NBFs like Srei to get the best deals on ROI on loans, and cash-back offers for customers. Given India's price-sensitive market, Metacrust has been negotiating for lower interest rates, which currently range between 11-14%. Going forward, it is also mulling tapping the government sector for project leads and tenders, besides which, it aims to facilitate sales and auction (both offline and online) of used domestic and international equipment.

As regards customized requirements, he said, "E-commerce sites are built to suit only standard products, however, we are working to make our platform more robust wherein customers can build their machine requirements and submit their final RFP for their required machines. This is very niche and not being done so far." The company will bring in technologies such as an API-enabled platform that can be integrated with OEMs' existing systems; reporting systems like Tally, SAP, custom invoicing as per inter-state transport taxes, and forecasting using data analytics, which big players consider very important for their business strategy.

Metacrust.com was verbally launched in bauma China this year, as according to the founders, many China-based OEMs are keen to enter the Indian market, either directly or through JVs with Indian companies. In the next phase it plans to enter other Asian countries and go international too in a phased manner. The team is confident about the platform's revenue generation potential. For the current financial year 2016-2017 it has estimated a total revenue of Rs.15-18 crore, and for the next fiscal 2017-2018, a topline revenue generation of Rs.26-28 crore.

The Metacrust Advantage

Metacrust's one-stop-solutions for the CE industry
  • Knowledge resource
  • Loyalty programme based on referrals.
  • Real time advisor
  • Incorporating new technologies and selling techniques from time to time
  • Customizing
  • Human verified business model
  • Optimize procurement with lower inventories and best prices
  • Build partnership as additional sales channels
  • Order fulfillment and logistics support
  • Reduce sales cycle time as the platform will do data exchange, comparisons, monitoring, algorithms, auto triggered business processes
  • Easier payment collection with wide range of payment options
  • Build digital presence and reach wider target customer base
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