BUZZING BUSINESS ONLINE : RAJEEV AMATYA
Start-up culture has definitely been revolutionizing the world economy in a lot of different levels. In a time where technology rules and e-commerce business is considered the “Big Thing” even Nepal has been seeing the boom of e-commerce businesses. Mind boggling facts state that almost a thousand websites have been established just in the last five years. Most of the websites may not make it to the next five years, we are of course hoping against it. However, one stands out of the crowd: Kaymu.
Kaymu Nepal is an online marketplace founded in 2013 which provides services in Africa, Europe and Asia. We met up with Rajeev Amatya, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Kaymu Nepal in order to understand the e-commerce scenario better in our country and the potential it holds.
Amatya feels that Nepal was not ready for e-commerce business when the Kaymu Nepal team initiated their business here. It started out like a test market led by a French guy and a few interns with a small team of 5-6 members from his apartment. He was in Berlin when he met the Managing Director of Kaymu Asia and was pleasantly surprised that they had ten transactions per day because he had expected less. According to him Kaymu did not look like a proper e-commerce business back then. Nevertheless, his confidence in the potential of e-commerce business in Nepal has been spiked in the last six months.
R.A: It’s important to remember that Kathmandu is a small city which ironically consists of 65% of the market. Newroad is basically half an hour to 45 minutes from every corner of the city so people can just go and buy things
they want from there. The market is fragmented and proper information lacking. We have given a chance to around 8000 sellers. We have trained a lot and seen how Nepal is doing in comparison to other countries; and Nepal is quiet quick at adapting to changes.
As a market, we are actually bigger than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka so that means people here seem to have money and they want to shop so you can find a wide range of products.The big players are finally being well informed and are interested to participate in this business. The good thing is that it’s very scalable and we have third parties doing our delivery and handling payment .This is still a very difficult phase for us but then, in a year or so, once everything is settled I guess things will get better. The seller base is strong now and is interested in ecommerce.
Most of the importers have problems with distributors or dealers because of the credit period. The credit period is shorter in e-commerce business compared to the traditional ones, and in case of Kaymu we will have 10 days or less. Yes, we are reliant on third parties for delivery and inventory of the products which can be a liability. But if we do it well it works perfectly fine. Quality and consistency kept in mind, everything will fall into place.
TNM: NEPAL’S ECOMMERCE SCENE ISN’T FLAWLESS, AND THERE HAVE BEEN ISSUES PARTICULARLY REGARDING THE DELIVERY OF PRODUCTS?
R.A: If you are buying from Kaymu and you are getting the product late for now it is probably not the delivery company’s fault. That’s usually because of the sellers who fail to dispatch the goods on time. Delivery companies are doing their jobs just fine. But yes, there are some minor glitches in the business.
Some sellers fail to update their accounts on time and some products are wrongly displayed as being available on our website when they clearly are not. From the buyer’s side about 20% of the products ordered are cancelled after dispatch. Also since there is no specific address system in Kathmandu it is kind of challenging to figure out the proper delivery point. So if you are unavailable on the phone during the agreed upon delivery time, the delivery guy can’t just leave the product at your neighbor’s place. All problems are solvable at some point or the other but the seller issues should and will be our primary point of concern.
TNM: THE POOL OF CUSTOMERS IS VERY SMALL IN NEPAL. IF THERE ARE A BUNCH OF DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS THEN DON’T YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LOSING YOUR CUSTOMERS? HOW DO YOU TACKLE THIS PROBLEM?
R.A: I see this with two perspectives. Firstly, this isn’t the best news for Kaymu. Acquiring a single customer is a long process which incurs a lot of costs. We do marketing and a lot of other work and put in a lot of effort. A dissatisfied customer is a lost customer. We won’t say we lost the customer forever though, maybe for the next half year the customer might not re-buy from us. This is something I would like to solve right away. The larger portion of the pool in Nepal is still not online. If someone who buys from us is not satisfied then we don’t know what the reaction will be. Will they never buy online again? Or will they buy from another ecommerce business? Going to another ecommerce business under a different name is not a big problem, as the prospering of the industry is of more importance. It is
a bigger problem if they lose faith in ecommerce as a whole; especially when it is in its growing faze. Buyers deterring from buying anything online is a loss for the industry. Building the buyer and seller base is tough but you need to put through the message that it is important to join now. The customers want a wide assortment of products and the sellers want more customers.
TNM: WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND HOW ARE YOU APPLYING IT IN KAYMU?
R.A: I am very good at starting from zero. Every once in a while I try to forget everything I know and start from scratch. If you keep building something and look at it from the top you do not know where you have gone wrong. In order to get to the core of the problem instead of playing blame game so it is important to do this.
If customers have a problem I do not guess I get into the facts because my team calls up thousands of sellers. Facts instead of opinions matter. I am pretty good with data. To elaborate if there is a cancellation of the product then we make sure we have the data of at what point of time it was cancelled and why. How much time was taken after placing the order in order to cancel? We make sure we keep the entire details.
TNM: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT WORKING WITH KAYMU? WOULD YOU CHANGE THINGS IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN?
R.A: There are a lot of things I have learnt and of course there are things I would do differently if I knew these things then. For instance, starting with a smaller seller base would have been better to start with instead of an open market model system. We had a point at which there were actual 4000 live sellers, I would probably start with just 400 rather than such a big number because right now we are adding and losing customers very constantly. This is not right and this could be better. I am learning to manage people and teams a lot better too. I had the pressure of meeting the targets so I ended up hiring a lot of people to meet these targets, I’d look for better human investments.
TNM: ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE STARTING E-COMMERCE?
R.A: It is a very complicated business. People think that it is easy because it is very easy to start .There are websites such as Shopify that has made it very easy to start websites, you can hire a few people and just start it like that but to sustain you need to understand how it works. You need to understand what acquiring a customer means and how acquisitions work. At the end of the day you have to build a business where the customers will come and buy from you without any marketing cost.
If you look at the best e-commerce businesses in the States, they do not market anymore. Marketing is not the most important part in e-commerce. You are not trying to sell products people do not need or want. People need to buy things, they might not need e-commerce but they need products. It’s a sure shot model. It’s very unlikely that an e-commerce business will fail in any country. Of course, you need to understand and figure out the right time for it. People need to understand that it is more than what it seems. When you are trying to start here, I would recommend you to work here as a seller. Work for an ecommerce company before starting.
“I am very good at starting from zero. Every once in a while I try to forget everything I know and start from scratch”