11.11 Sales. A festival event for so many. There are so many news out there. Of course the most eye catching tag is Alibaba 25 Billion USD sales in a single day example of Forbes news . In Malaysia one of the well reported 11.11 information will be from EcInsider using Lazada, 11street and Shopback. There is also a good breakdown comparison from Malaysian Access using google trend.
I tried to search for some information or stories from the perspective of a Malaysia seller. However I couldn’t find much searching after a week from the sale. Thus what the heck, a half-cook eCommerce passionate guy like me can be thick face and add a little perspective in Malaysian Ecommerce. It is not a snapshot of what we do for 11.11. It is a sharing of our experience how we start our Journey, and how we solve our problem over the 1 year period.
Let’s start with my background. Before I joined this train, I was the Senior Sales for Consumer Huawei Device. Remember those Celcom USB modems or Unifi modems, Hehe I sold it to the Telcos then. But then it had been always corporate career for me, working for multinational cooperation. In 2014, I got bitten by the contagious Ecommerce and Entrepreneurship Bug. At that time, I was Huawei consumer top sales, but yet I don’t know, I felt I must do something in life. Thus to the shock of my colleagues, I resigned! As I only had an engineering education, there is not much I know about running a business. Thus I spent for a Strathclyde MBA and my thesis was on Ecommerce. Some friends always laughed at me on this as they believe that if the money was used to start an Ecommerce in 2014, I will be better position now. Who knows if their right haha!
First I need to select the location of my new venture. This location need good access to High Speed Internet and 3PL services. Additionally the living standard need to be comfortable for my family. The human resource need to have acceptable level of English proficiency and yet the cost low enough so that business can be more competitive. After thought, I selected Ipoh because Ipoh was well known for food and water, comfortable living standard, near to Penang and KL and had great schools and colleges around! Yet for Perak, the household Income is the fourth lowest after Kelantan, Kedah and Pahang at RM4006! This translate to affordable good level human resources. I had blog about this previously.
So we packed our bags and move from KL to Ipoh, to many friends disbelief again. Haha. But I did not start an eCcommerce Business directly. I wanted to have some practical experience. Like it was arrange by the heaven, a company was hiring in Jobstreet for an eCommerce marketing executive in Ipoh. In the interview, told the boss not to fret about my previous five figure salary and just pay me anything he wanted. It felt good in a way saying that :). Luckily the boss is kind enough and paid my standard Ipoh manager salary and I’m in. This company was doing eCommerce in UK and Europe, in Amazon and Ebay marketplace. Before I join, sales was deteriorating. After I joined, the company performance improved a lot! Sales and Profit increased more than 300%. I was that thick face to type the testimonial of this achievement and force my boss to sign myself. At that time 11.11 is not our focus, Amazon Prime, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas is our prime event.
Yes! it is time to Start My Engine in real this time! In late 2016, I called my first community member out by offering to treat her DIM SUM. I heard she is doing Local eCommerce on her own. She was previously employed but decided to resign to start her eCommerce Business. I wanted to steal some secret from her to start my own local eCommerce Business also hehehe. Of course at the start she didn’t reveal much, but one thing I know was to dig information from past sales experience. But information I got was not what I had thought of! It is not anything near Secret of Success. She shared much of her problems and difficulties. Her eCommerce business was not doing well, and at times no sale for days. At that time, the 2016 11.11 sales just passed, she didn’t see much increase in sales and got frustrate and sad seeing other seller enjoyed great sales. She was on the brink of giving up…
At that time, I had already attended multi seminars and classes. By all means, these events were full of positive energy. It is supposed to be like that in order to encourage you to take the step to become an entrepreneur. Everything was so easy and everybody were willing to help. If these events were hot shower, the discussion with her was a cold shower in comparison. In reflection, after having many hot shower, a cold shower was needed on the problems and horrors of Ecommerce. During the night, didn’t slept much and kept thinking of what she shared, and suddenly a moment of truth shine! Hey, if she had tried and facing the difficult issues now, then I had no need to walk the same road again. I should work with her to solve these issues!
So next morning, called her up for more discussion and that’s how we started on her project. My “New Business” again was put on hold, and I started ‘working’ again. But this time, it’s not for multinational or even for a small size company, but for a person which is struggling in her startup business. I became a part timer for the current company and work part time to look into her issues. Did we manage to turn around? Well after 1 year, in the 2017 11.11 as above picture, we finally saw our effort bear some fruits. At least the feeling is way better for her this year hahaha.
So what did we do right? First most important thing is about Work Environment. Whether working in home and in office, the work place must be right. Even Steve Jobs needed his garage. She was working from her room in her parents’ home. Too bad typically Malaysia house do not have garage. Now imagine a girl room, supposed to be warm and cute, but now cluttered with boxes of merchandise and packing materials all around the room. It had become a place where the chi has been distorted, not suitable for rest nor work! We had to find, before anything else! But then if she had difficult running a business, how could she afford to find a place outside? So those fancy expensive office was out of the mind. We need a Simple, Cheap and Effective work place.
If there is a will, there is a way. First we need to identify an area which is near to a center which serves multi 3PL provider. There is a Mailbox Centre (MBE) in a Caltex Station in Canning Garden. Why Canning Garden? Haha for a selfish reason, it is near the place I stay. As the mailbox center is nearby, Poslaju and Gdex courier van could stop at our place without much difficulty and resistance. Then we searched around the area, and viola, we found a single story house for rent. The 20 X 70 single story was asking for RM 600 (previously declare RM1200 as I felt it is not good to share this cost openly base on few consideration, so i selected a higher rate) with all bathroom amenities, air conditioned and autogate. We approached the owner and explain in detail what we plan to do with his property. Luckily there were much news on Jack Ma visit and Ecommerce initiatives then and he was much interested. Capturing on that interest, we tried to convince him to support a girl in her startup business by providing free rental for few months so that her business will grow and she can afford the rental. In return, we will be transparent and report to him the bank and sales transaction transparently, and once we earn more than the operating cost, we will pay him rental. He agreed! He told me later why he agreed was because the house had been idle for some time as he was afraid of the hassle of dealing with bad tenants. He also found our business very interesting and there was no harm for him to borrow the place and observed our business. Now he had a good tenant which pay him on time monthly and looking after his property carefully, in return of his kindness.
First she started with a single desk and rack, but now she had extended to below. It is nothing fancy, but she had a comfortable workplace, a meeting / photo room and a store room and packing area
Then we discuss on the marketplaces where we went to sell her products. She was selling aggressively on Qoo10 and 11th Street at that time. Now as above graph, Lazada was definitely the leading marketplace. Why she was not doing it? Few reasons was provided, she heard that Lazada seller charged higher comissions, the system was unfriendly for seller and allow customer to abuse and return easily and also short of time. I beg to differ at that time. As a seller, We should not choose which marketplace, base on our preference or our assumption of what we heard. We go where the Customers go. Undeniably customers like to go to Lazada. So we had to go to Lazada to sell. We need to make ourselves competitive in Lazada no matter what, adapt to Lazada system and make it friendly to us. We need to allocate our time and resources base on the market size. For example if Lazada is taking 60% market share and others 40%, then lets spend our time 60% in Lazada and 40% in others, rather than 100% on the 40% market and sacrificing the 60% market in Lazada. At the end why customer likes to go to Lazada? Lazada must had spent much for advertising and consumer buying experience, so in such, its worth paying the commissions. Retail 101 is always to sell in place with a lot of foot traffic where the rental is high, than to sell in a place with very little foot traffic but cheap rental. So without looking back we plunge into Lazada marketplace. How are she doing now - not bad as below:
Wow, this is blog is going too long. Not sure if reader will like to read such sharing of experience. If you find this blog interesting, and like to see more, please like, It will be great motivation for me to keep blogging if there are audience outside. Haha. Please do like it on our facebook. https://www.facebook.com/kkecommerce. The next blog I like to share how we attack the product problem. Cheers