Former Country Manager – Apple India, Sanjay Kaul has launched his own start-up named ‘Sofyx’ — a social commerce platform for general traders dealing in smartphones and accessories in India.

Sofyx, which was launched on Monday, would bring together the mobile reseller community along with other stakeholders like telecom operators, device manufacturers, distributors and other vendors on a single platform, Kaul told IANS.

“Our first and foremost objective is to strengthen and improve the General Trade (GT) business in India. At the basic level, the platform would enable information exchange, engagement, real-time feedback and community building amongst the stakeholder group.

“At a functional level, we would help drive business transactions between various stakeholders. Our platform would streamline and digitize in-store operations, buying, as well as customer interactions,” he added.

During his days at BlackBerry and Apple, Kaul observed and identified various challenges in the unorganised retail sector that constitutes 93 per cent of the total retail business in India.

Although a significant contributor to the country’s economy, the unorganised General Trade sector in India has been disconnected from the digital ecosystem. In 2018, 140 million smartphones were sold in India with just over half of those being sold by General Trade retailers.

Sofyx would enable business networking, engagement, real-time feedback, and community building amongst the stakeholders. Besides, it helps drive business transactions between various partners.

One of the key goals for the company is to improve customer retention and drive footfall to these small retailers. With this intent, the company is launching its services with top smartphone selling shops in Delhi-NCR. These shops contribute over Rs 2,000 crore in smartphone revenue per year.

According to Kaul, while larger businesses may be positioned well to plug into a rapidly evolving digital India, smaller businesses still lag behind. “I firmly believe we can transform these small stores into a significant channel that brands distributors and customers would love to engage with it,” he said.

“Our estimates show that General Trade in India sells over $12 billion worth of mobile phones a year. In the next five years, this business will grow to about $16 billion a year as feature phone market transitions to smartphones.

“There are more than three lakh General Trade shops selling mobile phones in the country and they are spread out in every nook and corner of India. Sofyx will enable a significant number of these stores by partnering with them as their single point technology partner.” Kaul said.