SaaS to significantly enhance trade experience

SaaS, or software as a service, is crucial for Indian businesses because it provides affordable, scalable, and adaptable solutions that may support their success in a fast-paced and cutthroat business environment. By utilising cutting-edge technology and retaining cost effectiveness, it enables firms to concentrate on their core capabilities.

India Business and Trade spoke with Mr. Haresh Calcuttawala, CEO and Co-Founder of Trezix, on the rapid adoption of SaaS technology in different industries in India. Mr. Calcuttawala says that Indian exporters are focusing on expanding business in the international market which means cutting down on the cost of transporting and warehousing. He says SaaS comes at a crucial conjuncture where a company should introspect if it can real-time submit documentation, provide trading visibility, and have an insight into the whole transaction so that they work with a minimal inventory to the importing nations. 

Trezix SaaS import export

Photo Credit: Trezix

IBT: Every country is working towards increasing its import and export capacities and strategies, for which SaaS is an integral tool. How are we utilizing SaaS in comparison to other nations?

Haresh Calcuttawala: Taking cross-border transactions or global trade, every country has a game of survival. Every country has one objective in mind: if their economy has to be stable they have to earn the Forex i.e. the foreign exchange. Now there is a huge competition. So, how do you attract foreign buyers in your country? That is the situation across the globe with all the countries. Whether you talk about developed nations or underdeveloped nations, everybody is going through the same notion. In that race, the first important thing is how you make your whole trade experience better than other countries. The technology is going to play a major role in this. So, everybody is trying to make use of various technologies and SaaS is an integral part of this technology because if you have to really scale up quickly, those are the days where on-premise you have your own custom solutions and then you take a lot of implementation time and all the stuff. So, the old days are gone and now you have to just take advantage of SaaS and quickly adopt the technology. That is where the game is.

IBT: One challenge is that some Indian businesses not being familiar with other countries’ trade compliances, which may lead to losing a business opportunity. Where does India stand in terms of reducing trade compliance complexities?

Haresh Calcuttawala: See, compliance is now gradually becoming a big subject. Earlier, there used to be a post facto which means audit and then there were some observations and something used to crop up. Now compliance has also become digital, which means real-time compliance. Your transactions are immediate and if you have to really grow and focus on your business you have to comply with the digital compliance and this is what we keep hopping to entrepreneurs across the globe. If you talk about India, we have two sets of entrepreneurs. It is not that India has been in trade for the last couple of years, we have been in trade for centuries. But there is a little bit of baggage of doing it the traditional way, with a philosophy of “we will see when it comes”.

However, this mindset needs a significant shift. The emerging generation of entrepreneurs approaches business growth with a fresh perspective, aiming to minimize the time spent grappling with compliance intricacies. Their strategy involves implementing streamlined processes and systems that automate due diligence procedures. India is currently undergoing this transformation. Globally, developed nations have established systems and processes, but India is rapidly adopting the latest technology trends. I frequently travel to the US, other developed regions, Europe, and several Asian countries. While they have embraced technology, it’s increasingly becoming outdated. India holds a unique advantage with its youthful technology and skilled workforce.

This is crucial, as our Prime Minister’s vision focuses on digitalizing India, improving the ease of doing business, and reducing logistics costs. Numerous initiatives are underway to achieve these goals. One notable initiative is the Unified Logistics Integration Platform (ULEP) introduced by the Indian government. ULEP is revolutionizing digital compliance by enabling real-time verification of shipping bills, EGM/IGM status, and Bill of Entry. This innovation greatly reduces the time and complexity associated with compliance procedures.

IBT: Trezix began its operation in 2019. As of now, how many clients do you have on board and from which industries is there a particular industry which is still facing difficulties when it comes to import and export?

Haresh Calcuttawala: We started this thought process in 2019 and the Government of Gujarat also helped to get connected with various ecosystem players for example Chamber of Commerce. They understand the business well and they know that there is a real pain on the industry side. So we got in touch with the South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and they brought us different industries, South Gujarat is known for textiles, gems and jewellery, and chemicals. We also got into metal and mining. Right now, we have over 7 industry verticals which we straight away support. On average, every month we are adding at least in a range of 5 to 10 customers. We are a very young startup selling SaaS-based services as products in the market for the last 6-7 months. When I talk about the size of the organization we have small, and medium enterprises to very large enterprises like top brands in apparel, metal and mining as well as textiles.

IBT: European countries and the U.S. are in economic turmoil. How has this affected Indian businesses in terms of exports as cotton textile is particularly suffering quite a bit? 

Haresh Calcuttawala: The post-pandemic market witnessed a surge in buying activity, followed by a subsequent dip. While Indian exporters faced challenges, they demonstrated resilience by swiftly embracing two critical strategies: product innovation and harnessing technological support, including Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. SaaS services have received positive feedback, emphasizing the importance of investing in technology during these times. Quality and process improvement have taken centre stage, along with a crucial focus on global competitiveness by offering enhanced services. It’s no longer just about manufacturing and exporting goods; it’s about providing real-time documentation, visibility, and transaction insights to minimize inventory for importing nations. Business relationships have evolved from transactional to strategic in this context.

IBT: Sir, the newborn trade policy was introduced earlier this year. Has it already had an impact on SaaS platforms or do you have a notion as to how it may benefit industries?

Haresh Calcuttawala: The recently announced foreign policy for 2023 places significant emphasis on four key pillars, one of which centres on improving the ease of doing business and reducing transaction costs through various E-initiatives. The third pillar underscores the role of technology and automation in risk management, particularly concerning approvals for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Trade Policies (FTPs). This highlights the importance of facilitating seamless trade transactions between countries, supported by initiatives like advanced authorization of licenses such as EPCG and streamlined single-window operations.

A primary challenge in international markets is enhancing competitiveness, chiefly by reducing logistics costs. Over the past decade, logistics costs have hovered around 13% to 14%, and the goal is to bring them below 10%. Achieving this reduction can translate to a 4% to 5% margin improvement, which ultimately benefits foreign importers. Additionally, the focus on quality improvement complements the strategy of offering competitive prices and higher product quality to succeed in global markets.

IBT: The other challenge for businesses of import and export is the warehousing facilities. Now the government has announced that in other countries facility will be established but then as of now what are the reality and how does Trezix address this problem?

Haresh Calcuttawala: From the company’s perspective, it is all about ensuring the complete visibility, complete optimization and complete traceability of whatever we do in foreign trade. We are there to help them in their whole journey right from getting an order to completing their entire trade cycle and assist in supply chain perspective, compliance perspective or management visibility perspective. We are very much aligned with all new dynamic requirements which are coming globally. At the end of the day as a businessman, what you want is the flexibility of your system and processes to accommodate any dynamic things which are happening globally, which means I don’t have to worry about tweaking my systems or visibility getting lost. This is where we come in.

Now let’s come to the government perspective on helping through various means. When you import in India and if you have to do goods clearance at port, you can very well put it into a bonded warehouse without payment of duty. When you actually get where you want to trade, at that point in time you can remove from that particular place by paying the duty. So, how does it help? Today, you are putting in some investment and paying the customs duty. You defer it for a period of time till you do not want to use those goods. This is now already getting in place across. If you even think about the trade which is happening, there are various centres being opened up. There are various ways and means to support the exporters, to make sure that they continue producing their goods, their core focus on their manufacturing remains as it is, there is a continuous market available to them and there is a continuous rotation of money available to them so that they do a sustainable business.

IBT: SaaS is very much dependent upon the cloud services, on the internet services. So, how do businesses who are in tier two cities or tier three cities where maybe a 5G connection has not been reached yet, leverage these tools?

Haresh Calcuttawala: Jio has promised that more than 90% of India will be covered by 5G by the end of 2023. Even if we take on practical approach, every large telecom player whether we talk about Jio, Airtel or Vodafone, they are making sure that the tier one, tier two and tier three cities are largely covered, starting from top four metros to top eight to top hundred cities. Right now if you really look at the current status of 5G, more than 100 cities are already covered and they will be covering 700 cities by December. The importers or exporters are operating from the top 600-700 districts. So, 90% is already going to get covered. Probably in the next coming year, I think 5G will be almost across India. We are optimistic that 5G is going to be a game changer and I think it’s not so far to have all these things in place.

Haresh Calcuttawala is one of the founders and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Trezix, a unified SaaS platform for importers and exporters across the globe. In his current capacity, he is responsible for product development and strategizing roadmaps for the organization. Being at the forefront, Haresh aims to establish Trezix as a global Foreign Trade (EXIM) SaaS platform. With the core idea to transform end-to-end process management for importers and exporters, he intends to streamline documentation, visibility and predictability in the import-export sector.

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