Smart enterprises can’t do without apps that help manage their business and enhance efficiency, just like many individuals can’t live without mobile apps to manage and enhance their lives. Business apps that are generally grouped under Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play a vital role in supporting sustained business development.
Towards the end of the last century, manufacturing enterprises began to adopt ERP in droves, marking an information revolution in the business sector. ERP consists of multiple modules for customer relations, finance and accounting, payroll, logistics tracking and business analysis. The modules support the management of human resources, plus everything from raw materials, inventory, capital, customer databases and income. Today, ERP efficacy has become a yardstick to measure the modernisation and management excellence of an enterprise.
Using ERP to enhance operational efficiency
HKSTP partner company Appcider is a home-grown developer of ERP systems. Its co-founder Taurus Cheung says that the company was set up between 2013 and 2014 by four co-founders who had been in the enterprise software field for more than 10 years. They observed there was plenty of scope for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong and Asia to apply information technology to enhance operational efficiency and that the ERP systems developed by major software developers might not suit their needs. So Appcider focused on providing a one-stop solution for SMEs. The strategy proved effective, and the team has since expanded to 12 people as the business has grown.
Taurus is pleased to have received HKSTP support for marketing and promotions, product and brand planning, and connecting with investors. The association with the HKSTP brand also instils confidence in SMEs who do not know much about Appcider. Indeed, many clients chose Appcider because of its links to Science Park. HKSTP’s team provided recommendations for the company’s product promotion strategy, which has helped generate greater interest in its software among target users.
Capturing attention in mainland China and Southeast Asia
In recent years, Appcider has been developing and implementing ERP systems for SMEs in Hong Kong, mainland China and Southeast Asia. Its customers are in the fields of manufacturing, wholesale, distribution and retail. Taurus says that Appcider’s clients are mostly suppliers for major American and European retailers that use China and Southeast Asia as manufacturing bases and export finished products to North America and Europe. These enterprises use ERP systems to enhance their efficiency in meeting the demands of buyers from the West, especially the critical process of syncing logistics management with their clients’ sales cycles.
A single platform matching online stores and shippers
Guided by experience and business acumen, Appcider has been training its focus on meeting the delivery needs of online shopping companies. It set up the logistics matching platform ShipAny in 2018 to take this business to the next level. Taurus observed that many small to medium-sized online retailers around the world aimed to improve their delivery services by allowing customers to specify the delivery hours and sending frozen goods, for example. But it was an uphill battle because retailers found it difficult to connect with the systems of major logistics service providers to offer such convenience. On the other hand, local delivery firms who were able to offer flexible services did not have the means to connect with the retailers.
ShipAny applies crowdsourcing and Cloud technology, ERP process management and online store interfaces to connect online stores with multiple logistics companies that provide diverse shipping services, giving customers more control of delivery. This service is now free of charge to online stores.
Taurus says that Appcider was conceived to improve lifestyles through technology. The team found renewed motivation after winning the Outstanding Cloud-based Retail and Supply Chain Management Integration Solution Award at the FinTech Awards 2018, organised by the Economic Times, as well as a Best Retail Innovation (Product) Award from the Hong Kong Retail Technology Industry Association.
Offering wider logistic choices
Having established a solid base for its ERP business, Appcider intends to focus its efforts on growing ShipAny. Taurus is keen to see more online stores and logistics service providers joining the platform. This will help to expand the range of options on the platform and grow its user base. The company has introduced the ShipAny Locker, in partnership with a smart locker company, to offer lower cost delivery services for online stores in order to attract more price-sensitive shoppers. It is also working on blockchain-based Smart Contract technology, which will enhance the credibility of logistics orders and provide more assurance for online shoppers.