SME Times News Bureau | 13 Apr, 2018
of digital technologies is almost non-existent in this industry;
it retailers are difficult to reach digitally, said
Suresh Satymurthy - Co-founder & CEO,
Tarnea, a cloud based platform that helps small
and medium-sized pharmacies to go digital.
of the interview…
tell us about Tarnea and its entrepreneurial journey.
Suresh Satymurthy: Tarnea is a B2B
Transaction and Data Analytics
company based in Bangalore. We have built, India’s first and
perhaps the largest cloud based digital platform for pharmaceutical
retail - the Tarnea SmartMile™.
The company launched its platform Tarnea
SmartMile™ in 2014. We have already transformed hundreds of
independent small and medium-sized pharmacies into Digital
Pharmacies. The platform has
been implemented across 100+ locations in India and handles over 8
million transactions. We have served over 500,000 end-customers and
run one of the largest customer loyalty programs in the industry. We
have one of the largest datasets in the industry of over 110,000 SKUs
and track over 200 market leading brands.
The platform enables brick-and-mortar
pharmacies to become Digital
Pharmacies with an ability to
transact with customers and suppliers both online and offline. It
completely automates their sales, purchases, inventory management and
GST accounting. It also provides them with deep business insights
through real-time data analytics.
Tarnea has been selected into Microsoft's
Accelerator program from over 2,000 startups across the world. IIM
Bangalore has written a case study on Tarnea and has been published
by Harvard Business Review. Tarnea was selected into the Microsoft's
Accelerator program from amongst over 2,000 startups in 2016. Our
product has been selected for showcase in the first ever DEMO
Conference in India.
is the idea behind starting this company?
Suresh Satymurthy: The idea of founding Tarnea goes back to
the early 90s. One of the co-founders
was working in the area of Retail Distribution. The company he worked
for was a pioneer in the retailing of fresh and frozen fruits &
But not having visibility to the stocks
and sales at the retail shelf was the single biggest problem for the
company. There were extremes - loss of sales dues to stock-outs and
quite often product losses due to perishable nature of the products.
As a result, sales were erratic, and the morale of the consumers and
retailers was quite low. However, there was no solution to solve the
problem of visibility to the retail shelf, in sight.
Fast forward to 2018, Retailers still face
the same problem. Less than 15% have any technology in their stores.
The technology doesn’t harness the power of their own data for them
to make better decisions. The technology is too complex and too
expensive. And they are on a slippery slope with respect to the rapid
changes in the market, where they face competition from a new breed
of online retailers and their consumers are increasingly digital. But
they are lagging behind both.
Tarnea believes that the small Retailers
have two unique advantages - Local Availability and Human Touch. Both
of these advantages cannot be easily supplanted by online retailers.
All they lack is digital enablement. Tarnea has helped hundreds of
retailers, to Go-Digital. It is now a $750 billion opportunity. India
is already the 5th largest retail economy in the world. As it grows
to become one of the 3 largest retail economies, some of these
problems need a creative solution.
This enormous business opportunity brought
the co-founders together - to offer a digital platform to retailers.
Tarnea helps pharma retailers?
Suresh Satymurthy: Tarnea is enabling the brick-and-mortar
pharmacies to Go-Digital. Going digital for a retailer means he is
able to establish his digital presence through the Tarnea SmartMileTM
platform. A “brick-and-mortar”
pharmacy will be able to transform into a fully digital pharmacy in
typically 5 hours!
When a brick-and-mortar pharmacy
becomes a digital pharmacy, it will --
tell us about this MSE dominated sector?
Consider this, China
with a comparable population has only 200,000 retail pharmacies,
covering a larger geographic area. But India has over 800,000
pharmacies! Again, if you look at the distribution, China has about
13,000 distributors but India has over 80,000 distributors.
There are around 60
doctors per lakh of population in India, and about 20 Primary
Healthcare Centers and only 2 Hospitals per lakh population. But
there are over 100 pharmacies! They are the first line of defense
against diseases and morbidity. They play an important role in
helping patients with consultations and advice. What
are the biggest challenges you have faced as a start-up? In which
areas the ecosystem lacks?
Over 80-90% of the retailers do not use
any form of automation. So competition in the traditional sense is
not very significant. But we do have a challenge to take a
contemporary digital technology to a segment which is not reachable
are the services you offer?
Cloud based platform: The
platform provides 100% secure business operations which means no
data loss, no crash issues, & no virus attacks. It works on
military grade servers and Tier 4 Data center hosting. Also,
retailer need not spend any effort or money to stay updated with any
government or industry norm such as implementation of GST.
Everything will be done remotely as and when it happens.
Customer engagement: The
ability to delight customers and increase loyalty! The platform
provides an ability to the retailer to digitally engage with
customers, send them offers & promotions, provide invoices in
the form of e-bills, run loyalty programs, etc. and thus give them a
reason to come back happily. Also, the ability to learn purchase
behavior and do up-selling & cross-selling accordingly makes
customer management a seamless experience.
Inventory Management: First
level losses to a retailer happen at store level itself. With expiry
stock piling up and stock-outs happening, the chances to make money
reduce. Tarnea offers an automated inventory management ability to
the retailer to reduce these issues dramatically. Features like
stock dynamics’ alerts keep retailer updated with stock levels
throughout the day.
Purchase management: The
platform provides an ability to a retailer to place e-orders with
suppliers as and when required. Features like auto-replenishment
learn the stock movement behavior and take care of when, what, and
how much to order. After the supplies have arrived, retailer can
update his stock by directly importing the invoices into the system
in the form of a CSV file, thus eliminating the time and effort
required to record every item manually.
Business intelligence and analytics:
Tarnea offers a unique ability
to a retailer to grow his business significantly. Useful insights on
business performance are available in the form of visually rich
reports that can be downloaded any time, thus providing a check on
lead and lag areas. Tarnea EagleEyeTM
mobile app keeps a retailer updated in real-time with store
operations and daily performance, which makes sure no issue goes
unnoticed. Imagine a tool which tells you what’s happening right
now in your store and also gives you useful information and insights
on how to improve business!
share your future plans. What is your growth plan in the coming
years? Suresh Satymurthy: For 2018, Tarnea aims to cover the 5 South
Indian States, Western India and key North Indian markets. With a
quarter on quarter growth of 75% and with 1.5 million customers
served till date and 6 million transactions done, Tarnea is slowly
and steadily trying to pave its way within the unorganized
pharmaceutical sector within India.