New Delhi: GreyOrange, a warehouse automation firm focused on e-commerce, is looking to expand to new sectors such as packaged consumer goods and pharmaceuticals at a time when online retailers are trying to conserve cash.
The company, which gets over 90% of its business from e-commerce and related clients, expects nearly half of its revenue to come from new sectors by March 2018, said co-founder and chief executive officer Samay Kohli.
The Singapore and Gurgaon-registered firm automates warehouses through two of its flagship products: Sorter and Butler. Sorter—used by the bulk of its clients—is a conveyor belt system fitted with robotic arms and advanced tools like dimensioning and weighing modules capable of sorting up to 6,000 packages per hour. Butler is a storage and retrieval robot that moves on the warehouse’s floor.
“In India, now we have started doing a lot of CPG (consumer packaged goods) and FMCG, their warehousing and storage,” said Kohli. FMCG is short for fast moving consumer goods, marketing industry jargon for products such as shampoos, soaps, toothpastes and packaged snacks.
Top Indian firms in this industry are tweaking their own warehousing strategy ahead of the goods and services tax that is expected to come into force on 1 July. As a result, the category has emerged as a big focus for the robotics firm.
“With GST kicking in, our orders are increasing as people are beginning to realize how it will change their warehousing,” said Kohli. “Not only does it change where they put the warehouses, what they put in the warehouse also changes.”
For one of its clients who had five small warehouses spread over Delhi, Noida and Gurugram, the company is setting up a larger warehouse close to Manesar in Haryana to take care of the entire distribution in north India.
Reconfiguration of warehouses has favored automation firms like GreyOrange. In 2016, the company signed up three new clients in this category, one of which is a top stock exchange-listed packaged consumer goods maker, Kohli said.
He declined to name the clients.
“Though we are awaiting final fine prints of the GST Act and rules, we have our strategy for optimization of supply chain, including warehouse consolidation to leverage synergies post GST,” said Lalit Malik, chief financial officer at Dabur India Ltd, in an emailed response.
“GST will make India one unified market, so FMCG companies are obviously preparing for it. It will put an end to the price differential for manufacturing in different states. So the strategy now is to move the hubs and depots closer to the main markets,” said Kaustubh Pawaskar, an analyst at Sharekhan Ltd.
Started in 2011 to cater to the warehousing needs of e-tailers like Flipkart and Jabong, GreyOrange diversified to logistics in the last few years. Today, its solutions power automation at courier companies like Aramex, DTDC, Delhivery, GoJavas and Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics, besides retailers PepperFry and Myntra.
Last week, the company announced it had signed Ninja Van, a Singapore-based logistics company, as a client for warehouse automation solutions.
The company has so far raised $35 million from Tiger Global Management and Blume Ventures.
Currently, its solutions are installed at over 55 warehouse sites that range in size from 25,000 to 250,000 square feet in size—in India and overseas.
The company sources its equipment from various original equipment manufacturers in India and China and assembles the systems at its facility in Gurugram.
Kohli declined to comment on the company’s financials. Its India revenue slipped 14% to Rs84.4 lakh in 2015-16, according to filings with the registrar of companies.
GreyOrange faces competition from companies such as Falcon Autotech Pvt. Ltd. which has its systems installed at facilities of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Amazon India, Flipkart and Britannia Industries Ltd, among others, according to its website.