Sharp learning curve for e-commerce startups


You need to learn as much as you can about a good number of things if you want to try to break into e-commerce startup. Well, at least that is what you will gather if you speak to people who have gone through the mill.

“We learnt as much as possible about e-commerce. We met many web developers, anyone with an “e” title behind them,” said baby products e-commerce company Babydash Sdn Bhd co-founder Tay Shan Li.

But it hardly ends there. They would need to differentiate themselves from competitors and stick their heads above the crowd. How did they do that?

We are not just an e-commerce store. We are a community of mums and parents, says Tay (Pic by Ismail Che Rus/TMR)

“We are not just an e-commerce store. We are a community of mums and parents. If you have a question, you can call and talk to a mum. These are the little things that we need to provide more of personalised attention to customers,” Tay told an audience of eager new entrepreneurs and those keen to join the startup world at an event in Cyberjaya, Selangor, last month.

By creating a community of mothers, Babydash is able to set itself apart from many other outfits that are also involved in the same space.

Tay was one of the dozen of e-commerce entrepreneurs who spoke at the Exabytes eCommerce Conference 2017.

The seventh conference organised by web hosting service provider Exabytes Network Sdn Bhd targeted e-commerce players like freelance webmasters, new online startups, bosses, Internet entrepreneurs, branding and advertising specialists, and business school lecturers. The Malaysian Reserve was a media partner for the event.

Tay, who co-founded Babydash with Lavinie Thiruchelvam, was one of the members of the panel, moderated by Digital News Asia Sdn Bhd founder Karamjit Singh, discussing the importance of branding in e-commerce.

“There is a lot noise in the online space. How do you cut through the noise and position yourself as a brand that can be remembered by consumers? That is where branding comes in,” said Shopback Cashback Sdn Bhd country GM Malaysia Alvinraj Gill.

The other panel members included The Chic Initiative founder Siow Hui Ling, PitchIN and WatchTower and Friends Sdn Bhd accelerator CEO Sam Shafie, Uniqueens founder Esther Zhen and Vape Club International co-founder Jeremy Ong.

In another presentation, Exabytes founder/CEO Chan Kee Siak spoke about the Exabytes Cockroach Startup Programme created to assist and empower ideas and entrepreneurs.

Under the programme, startups will receive RM3,000 worth of Exabytes credits, which can be used to purchase services crucial to the success of the startups such as domains and cloud hosting. Qualified startups will also receive RM500 free credits from EasyParcel Sdn Bhd, a web-based parcel consolidator and e-commerce shipping solution provider.

The requirements for the first stage include that the company/ startup should have been established less than 24 months ago and is attached to an accelerator such as MaGIC, Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, MAD Incubator Sdn Bhd, Second Startup and Founder Institute.

In the next stage, when products and services have been successfully built and the startup has graduated from an accelerator programme, it will receive RM30,000 in Exabytes credits and RM20,000 in cash. In return, the Exabytes Group will own a 5% equity of the startup.

Here, the requirement is that the company/startup has graduated from one of the accelerator programmes and it will be required to pitch their products or services.

Exabytes provides web hosting services and helps small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow their businesses online. Established in 2001, it now serves 75,000 customers, which include individuals, students, SMEs, government outfits and public listed companies, in 121 countries. It manages over 1,000 servers with more than 100,000 websites and one million email accounts.