Payment Expert spoke to Soumaya Hamzaoui of RedCloud, on the evolution of digital ecommerce as she revealed some of the key barriers that they are seeking to eliminate. 

PaymentExpert: Firstly are you able to tell us more about RedCloud and your role at the company?

Soumaya Hamzaoui:  I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at RedCloud.  

RedCloud is an open commerce platform that aims to grow global access to the world’s consumer products and improve the efficiency of supply chains by connecting and enabling brand manufacturers, distributors and merchants to trade digitally. Among the services we provide is access to digitised payments, which eliminates the risks associated with cash handling, while offering real-time data about inventory management. We also enable the mass, low-cost distribution of consumer goods through a single app, anywhere in the world. The app, called Red101, is designed specifically for use by small, local merchants. 

RedCloud is on a mission to digitise and empower an economy of one billion micro-businesses on a global basis, giving them the freedom to trade anywhere through an open commerce platform with the world’s largest local payment network. 

I have a 10-year background in software and telecommunication and oversee the operations and product strategy for RedCloud, as well as head the design and business development and customer engagement teams. My main expertise lies in product management for highly evolved digital financial services. Previous to RedCloud, I worked on the development of Orange Money in Africa and supported multiple industries including transport, banking and telecommunication in their transformation towards new technologies.

How pivotal is digital eCommerce when it comes to benefiting merchants and boosting emerging economies?

Moving to digital is vital for merchants to survive. After all, their customers are going digital and they are facing an increasing threat from eCommerce giants who are forcing them to redesign their business. Commerce is being disrupted through many channels, not only in traditional eCommerce but also social media as well as online gaming associated with commerce and emerging technologies like the metaverse. Merchants must embrace the change and start adapting their strategy to the new lifestyle of their customers.

Having said that, the trust element that these merchants provide to their customers is very hard to compete with. Despite all the marketing budget, Amazon has spent over the last decade, many consumers would still choose to buy from local merchants than buy online. That’s precisely where the opportunity for small merchants sits – combining the comfort of digital commerce with the trust and confidence that local commerce brings.

Over the past year, inventory finance has risen significantly, what is next for the payment journey and can it expand to new commerce markets?

Ultimately, digital payment will become a commodity and the payment experience will become so easy and quick. It is interesting to see how contactless payment has increased the usage of card payments. Take all the new experiences through the likes of Apple Watch which try to make the commerce experience easy so the “payment step” is not even a step anymore. Where innovation will go next will depend on how more data can be integrated at the payment points, how the payment cost can be automatically calculated and how it can be adapted to the products people are buying.

I think these will be the next steps, adding more intelligence and more flexibility to the payment journey to make them accessible to all types of commerce.

What are some of the key barriers in traditional e-commerce that RedCloud is seeking to break down? 

Our current global commerce system is broken. In the digital domain, a small handful of tech giants like Amazon and Facebook continue to exert enormous influence on nearly every aspect of the commerce experience, taking all the cake while leaving millions of sellers struggling to survive.

Of course, this represents but a tiny fraction of overall commerce. The vast majority of the world’s population pay for goods locally in stores, served by 500+ million merchants who are entirely reliant upon vast and sprawling supply chains that haven’t changed since the 1970s. As we’ve seen from the recent news agenda, these inefficient, offline and manually-driven supply chains are increasingly vulnerable to external pressures.

The reason most merchants in emerging economies cannot trade digitally is that they’re locked out of the financial system – unbanked and forced to carry on using cash; unable to establish a trading profile and thus prevented from borrowing to invest in their businesses. 

For consumer goods manufacturers, this is a disaster, because cash is slow-moving and expensive to handle. What’s more, without digital trading, they have no way of knowing who their merchants are, what is being sold or who ends up buying it. They’re disconnected from their merchant base by a complex web of distributors and intermediaries. The largest manufacturers simply have to place bets and distribute products according to their best guess. For everyone, these emerging market opportunities remain largely off-limits.

Profound change is, therefore, necessary because the level of inefficiency in our current commerce ecosystem is unsustainable. 

How important is it that RedCloud unites merchants, brands and distributors for eCommerce? 

It’s absolutely essential that there are platforms that unite merchants, brands and distributors to allow all parties to trade and maximise sales opportunities. 

RedCloud connects brands, distributors and retailers globally, accelerating sales growth and market reach with RedCloud’s easy-to-access open commerce digital marketplace. 

The platform offers an easy-to-access digital marketplace to sell products more efficiently, reach more customers and build better relationships.

Instant secure and commission-free digital transactions are possible with hundreds of payment options to accelerate sales volume and capacity.

Data-led intelligence forecasts demand and inform digital marketing campaigns that drive new orders. 

A single easy-to-onboard app allows retailers to browse, compare, buy, pay for, and manage stock online. 

Lastly, what are your predictions in terms of trends for the e-commerce market?

We are about to see the greatest shift in the history of e-commerce. It’s called open commerce, and it promises to fundamentally change the way goods are bought, sold, shipped and distributed around the world.

Open commerce is not a technology. It’s a movement, built upon the same principles as the original Open Source movement, that is designed to champion the ‘sell anywhere’ economy and enact profound, positive change for merchants and retailers of all sizes.

It is best understood within the context of an ongoing evolution in the make-up and structure of the internet – increasingly referred to as Web3.

The Web 2.0 world has involved individuals and organisations creating content, interacting and buying/selling on centrally controlled platforms like Facebook or Amazon. In contrast, Web3 is about moving to decentralised platforms that are open and accessible to all, with no central power controlling the terms of use.

In the case of open commerce, it involves the creation of decentralised, trusted digital trading networks open to all manufacturers and merchants, irrespective of size or location.