Mumbai: The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has forced many industries across the world to opt for digital ways in a bid to sustain their business and continue moving forward. Many sectors, including the sugar trade were feeling the heat due to Covid-19 induced lockdown. Thus, digitisation in sugar trading was the need of the hour, as physical trade had taken a toll due to various restrictions, and it became vital to maintain the sugar supply without any hindrance. And that is when Kolhapur based entrepreneur Uppal Shah, decided to resort to digitisation in the sugar business.
He launched eBuySugar.com, in April 2020, to bring digital transformation in the sector aiming at smooth functioning of the sugar industry. The platform that began during the pandemic is growing by leaps and bounds. Uppal, founder and CEO of eBuySugar, says, “We launched it as a digital platform where we could bring buyers and sellers together. Trading began almost immediately. So far we have received an immense response.”
He comes from a family that has been involved in the sugar trading business since 1981. Uppal joined his father Jitendrakumar Shah in the sugar trading business in 1997. When all commodities were advancing with the help of technology, school dropout and now tech-savvy Uppal found an opportunity to transform the sugar business by taking it to the digital world in a time of need.
Explaining the sugar trading business, Uppal says, “A trader makes a deal to buy sugar from a manufacturer over the phone. The trader, later on sells it to a semi-wholesaler, again carrying out the entire business over phone calls. Every other commodity has seen a big role in technology and digital solutions, but sugar trading has witnessed no such progress.” The medium of communication in the business was through phone calls and he decided to bring in modern technology to take it to the digital world that would transform the sugar sector.
The sugar sector’s monthly sale is decided by the Government and allocates quantity through release mechanism system to every sugar mill. They have to ensure sale and deliveries, so that cane payments are made to the farmers within the frame time. But many mills fail to do so which creates a financial crunch and leads to the accumulation of cane arrears. Studying the lacunae of the traditional sugar business and to make the entire chain smooth, Uppal launched eBuySugar during a pandemic and the platform has helped in changing the sugar business.
Uppal asserts that through the portal they have provided a platform to all the sugar manufacturers, traders, and wholesalers. Sugar mills are getting more buyers through this platform than the earlier traditional way of business and can sell sugar immediately. For the mills, it meant a much better realisation of the price for their produce, which means they can pay the farmers better and on time.
Asking about how the platform works, Uppal explained that payments for sugar are upfront, which means a buyer has to pay first and then the sugar is shipped. We take care of the entire process, from payments to delivery, which makes them confident to make larger purchases. From April 1 this year, the model has been restructured into a system where every trade takes place through eBuySugar. The buyer pays eBuySugar, and we will pay the seller and, in turn, ensure logistics and delivery with insurance.
Uppal Shah – Founder & CEO – eBuySugar – A product of JK Sugars & Commodities Pvt. Ltd.
For small traders, it has become easy to buy directly from sugar mills and prominent sellers in the process. Highlighting how eBuySugar is beneficial for clients, He says, “What attracts them most is the complete responsibility we take, from sales to ensuring the sugar gets delivered to the buyer. We have been able to organize the sector on a platform and we even provide logistics and insurance. We have a tie-up with Tata AIG for insurance and ensure we generate an e-way bill for the destination.”
Immediately after launching, the portal has become a huge success. More than 1.9 million tonnes of sugar have been traded so far and eBuySugar has crossed a turnover of Rs. 600 crores till date.
Uppal’s experience in the traditional sugar business helped in evolving a portal that would address all the gaps in the sector. He says, “As a family, we have done business with different sugar millers and traders in the country and this helped us to get a response from buyers and sellers from across the country to the new digital platform. It is definitely the right time to get on to the train of digitization.”
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