Q&A: Sander Roose, founder and CEO of Omnia Retail

We have a chat with Sander Roose, founder and CEO of Omnia Retail, about scaling up the business and how it's doing now.

One of the greatest challenges for small businesses is making the move to a scale-up.

In the spirit of learning from someone who’s been there, we speak to Sander Roose about how he scaled up his company, Omnia Retail.

What’s the business, when was it started and what does it do?

Omnia was established in the Netherlands in 2013. We are a software as a service
(SaaS) solution for integrated pricing and online marketing automation. Our intelligent core
algorithm, which automates optimal pricing and maximises returns from online marketing
channels, helps retailers regain control as well as save time and drive profitable growth.

The e-commerce boom – which has made it increasingly difficult for retailers to stay ahead
of competitors – means that pricing strategies are now more important than ever.

Our products simplify this process. They use artificial intelligence to collect and analyse vast
amounts of data, then automatically adjust retailer’s prices to provide the most competitive
market rate.

However, rather than simply creating a race to the bottom, wherein retailers continue to cut prices to remain cheaper than other brands, our system takes into account a huge range of factors. These include individual commercial strategy, stock levels and price elasticity to determine the optimum amount for each product and maintain margins.

Since founding the business five years ago, the team and I have gone on to secure over 100
major clients including Decathlon, Samsung and Office Depot.

Where is the business at now in terms of headcount and products?

After receiving several million pounds worth of investment, we have just launched Omnia’s first UK office and will be focusing on increasing our footprint within this key market throughout 2018 and into 2019.

Other aims for this year are to roll out into Germany, France and the rest of the EU.

Currently, we have 35 employees, but the aim is to increase this to 50 as the company continues to grow.

We offer a range of products that help businesses boost sales and improve product visibility. Our comprehensive Pricewatch platform allows businesses to gain actionable insights into competitors’ pricing, while our bid management tool, Dynamic Marketing, uses an intelligent algorithm to calculate bids on both internal data (e.g. purchase price, logistics costs) and external data sources (e.g. competitor pricing, Google Analytics data).

Additionally, Dynamic Pricing – our solution for high-frequency pricing automation – boosts profit margins by generating the optimal pricing for products, based on price elasticity.

Lastly, our Feed Manager enables retailers to manage all product feeds in one place, as well as advertise those products on all relevant marketing channels with ease.

So far, these products have helped our clients see up to four times more growth on marketing channels like Google Shopping and up to 50 per cent improvement in sales and margin growth. To build upon our success, our R&D team is continually developing our products to stay ahead of the extremely fast-paced retail market.

What are your scale-up goals and how will these be achieved?

Our main aim is to secure partnerships with Europe’s top 500 retailers by proving to them how our unique and innovative platform can stand them apart from competitors.

After establishing the company within the UK, Germany and France, we plan to branch out to America by 2020 and from there, continue to scale-up across the globe. We aim to do this in a similar way to the UK launch; by firstly ensuring that we have a robust foundation in place before individually scaling up each aspect of the business. Approaching investors to help fund this process will also need to be considered.

To ensure Omnia continues to adapt to retailers shifting needs, we will also start looking into further developing the AI side of our software to help better predict pricing patterns and trends.

Our scale-up plans have already brought a really unique dynamic to the company and I cannot wait to see how it continues to develop and grow as we expand further.

How’s it going so far and what advice would you give to other scale-ups?

I am extremely happy with how far the business has come in such a short space of time. Plus, setting up our UK office has given us the momentum to continue pushing for growth across the rest of Europe.

From my experience, I would definitely advise other software and technology businesses to use venture capital (VC) funding when scaling up, as banks are still quite traditional and don’t fully understand the SaaS model.

Investors want to back successful up-and-coming businesses so, if your company is doing well, it’s important to shout about it externally in order to secure investment. From there, you need to analyse all aspects of your organisation to ensure that robust structures and processes are in place that can be seamlessly scaled up. This will put you in great stead to kick-start your company’s growth.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk and GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.