MarketForce 360 is a Kenyan-based sales and distribution management platform — digitising supply chains and creating visibility for sales and distribution teams. The startup leverages the availability of mobile phones in emerging markets and enables sales agents to record transactions, manage customer relationships, track promotions, and monitor inventory levels and incentive schemes. The platform also provides route planning and route optimisation functionality, and allows companies to geofence their sales teams to ensure productivity.
Real-time data is visible to FMCG manufacturers, distributors, and financial service organisations — providing them with sales reports and data analytics to better manage their sales and distribution teams across outlets and regions. The Nairobi-based startup was founded in 2013 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti.
The startup also launched MarketForce Troops for the Kenya market — a crowd-sourced workforce that generates retail orders for distributors and suppliers. Troops sales agents are independent contractors, work within a specific zone, and provide a basket of goods to retailers. The service reduces the labour cost for distributors, as the cost is shared by several distributors. Sales agents don’t receive a fixed salary, but are paid on commission. The programme creates much needed jobs in the informal sector and provides essential goods to informal retail outlets.
Retail order app
MarketForce 360 is also venturing into the B2B ecommerce arena with its RejaReja retailer ordering app — connecting micro retailers with their nearest supplier. Dukas or neighbourhood stores, will be able to browse thousands of products from local suppliers, compare prices, view promotions, purchase products, and receive delivery within a few hours. This would not only save dukas time — but help them to build up a credit score and qualify for working capital loans.
Kenyan retail market
The Kenya retail environment remains informal, with traditional traders still dominating the retail landscape. For FMCG companies, 90% of retail transactions take place in informal markets — and servicing thousands of dukas or neighbourhood stores is difficult and expensive.
Many companies lack supply chain visibility and still struggle with limited technology infrastructure. Often paper reports coexist with Excel spreadsheets and poorly integrated ERP systems. The lack of visibility in supply chains often leads to stockouts at retail level, poor customer services, and error-prone data collection — with staff lacking timely data to make management decisions.
With low volume per outlet in traditional trade, in the past it was often too expensive to provide a salesman with the tech tools to service the market, and companies and suppliers struggled to manage sales teams in these fragmented markets.
However, increased internet penetration, cheaper smartphone technology, and affordable software as a service (SaaS) solutions such as MarketForce 360, are changing the business landscape in emerging markets — and creating visibility in even the smallest outlet in Africa.