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Illiteracy, inventory and raising working capital are three of the big challenges facing small retailers all over the world. SAP addresses all of those concerns with a comprehensive solution released Wednesday.

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An SAP Ganges-enabled POS device helps Bangalore shop owner Anand Babu monitor his sales and inventory — and may even help him secure a bank loan to grow his business.

SAP Ganges uses HANA to help mom-and-pop shops monitor sales and performance in real time, linking these small businesses with big consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, such as Nestlé, as well as their distributors.

“It focuses on improving the IT infrastructure of micro-businesses, such as kirana shops (small, usually family-owned shop selling groceries and other sundries),” Richard Hirsch  wrote in a sneak-peak of SAP Ganges in August. “These are non-traditional customers usually ignored by traditional vendors, yet they represent the most promising avenue to increase SAP’s global reach.”

Billion-Dollar Business

Helping micro-businesses grow could be a billion-dollar business for SAP, according to Abhijit De, VP and initiative lead for SAP Retail Network. De’s team at SAP Labs India spent two years developing SAP Ganges.

“We did not design it for India,” De told SAP TV. “Our teams worked in South Africa, Brazil and in China to see if the markets were similar … so that we can scale it to all these countries.”

Huge pain points for many small retailers are depleted inventory and a lack of working capital, both of which prevent growth. But an SAP Ganges-enabled point-of-sale (POS) device in the hands of each shop owner can change that.

Easy Reading

Retailers can use these POS devices to scan each sold item and record the transaction. This gives the shop owner a real-time overview of sales; it tells the distributor what to deliver on the next run; and offers the banks trustworthy data to justify small business loans.

But 70 percent of all retailers are semi-literate. Some can only read and write numbers.

“We are looking into creating an icon-based device wherein the retailer can identify an item just by looking at the icon,” said Raghavendra Bhuvan, developer associate, SAP Ganges. “He can get a visual overview of his sales basket.”

Readable devices that track sales and provide data for banks offer micro-businesses a better chance than ever to grow.

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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