My story perhaps began with my father, who started selling books by riding on a bicycle back in his hometown. From that humble start, my parents began to sell stationeries at the night market. However, the night market was a tough environment to sell stationeries at. They managed to keep going for about three to four years, before deciding to open a retail shop. With that decision, they ceased to sell at the night market, and we shifted our focus on our store.
I helped my father to look after his stationery shop from the beginning. I would help them to pack items, carry items, perform stock takes and everything else involved in running the business. I learned by doing, and all these practices helped me to understand the processes involved in running the shop before I came to inherit it.
I took over the running of this business in 2008. People often wonder if there is a market for stationeries. The answer is, yes. While the digital world is ever revolving, stationeries has its very own fanbase and is still very much valued today even with all the technology around us. However, there is no doubt that selling stationeries is certainly a niche market.
Venturing into the ecommerce world
My mother wanted to join the eCommerce scene a long time ago. We attempted to sell online a few times, but unfortunately were unable to get good results. We made many mistake in the beginning. We built a website to sell our product, but the truth was we knew nothing about eCommerce or how to set up an online business successfully. We didn’t know how to implement marketing strategies such as SEO or what it meant. It was all new to us.
At the time, there were also not many good online platforms available. Eventually, we discovered Lazada, which was when we finally felt like we were on the right track. When we began our journey with Lazada, we had little expectations due to our previous experiences. We were not really expecting eCommerce to contribute to the growth of our business and we were amazed by the impact and results online selling brought to us, from our exposure on Lazada.
There’s no doubt that Lazada brought extra revenue to our business. It also taught us a lot about selling online and how to use the platform successfully. We were used to operating a retail store, and did not have a strong marketing sense. I learned a great deal about positioning myself and my brand, as well as implementing effective marketing strategies with Lazada’s help. It was a vastly different experience compared to the few attempts I made to start a website in the past.
Lazada brought our sales number back up when we started our online journey with them. During the second MCO, our sales increased by 170%. We were quite frankly shocked by the results of our returns. At a time when many businesses were struggling, we had to hire more than 40 new employees just to keep up with the sales and aid with the new growth of our business.
Keeping it simple
I am a person who likes to plan for the future, and my goal is to work hard now so that I can reap the rewards of my hard work during my later age. My focus is simply on building my own brand. I try to keep it simple for myself and not compete with others. I think if you focus on your own business, invest or use your own profit margins, and concentrate on what your goals are, you can be more successful in your online business.
My father started selling books by riding on a bicycle. His dream was always to start a stationery shop that is affordable and accessible to many. With the help of Lazada, I can thankfully and happily say that my mother and I have made that very dream came true.
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