While some may use e-commerce as an avenue for a side income, others have bigger plans to turn their products into full-time ventures to conquer not just the local market, but the international as well.
Two sellers on Shopee are already looking at how to take advantage of the e-commerce platform and slowly expand their businesses nationwide and overseas, by selling books for children or sending out coffee beans to cafes and homes.
For Penangite Cheryl Ho, 35, starting up a business was something she had tried a few times but she was not successful due to the same business plan.
While still working as a marketing and public relations manager for a hospital, Ho decided to try yet another business: creating and selling handmade, customisable learning books for children aged two to eight through her online CeeTee store on Shopee.
“I heard a lot about e-commerce but never actually started it until August 2020 on Shopee. At that time, I didn’t even know how to do proper listings in my store. I only learned how to do that in June this year,” Ho said.
Since then, Ho’s CeeTee online store has observed a three-fold increase in sales compared to when she first started.
Ho’s best selling products on CeeTee are called Montessori Kids Learning Busy Books, which are customisable interactive books for kids. The product allows parents to pick content from 25 activities for their children to work on.
When the revenue of her online store reached almost RM6,000 a month, Ho saw the potential of devoting her working hours to the CeeTee online store.
Ho also said that she has bigger plans with her Busy Books, including keeping her products handmade to gain the “Made in Malaysia” status from the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), which will then provide support in exporting her books overseas.
“Because of the #ShopeeSapotLokal campaign, I even blasted all my contacts and ex-colleagues to suggest that they put my Busy Books on sale, so we’re now working to supply retail pharmacies,” she said.
Ho added that she has been participating in the double digit shopping festivals on the platform, and the upcoming 12.12 Birthday Sale is no exception.
“I’m giving more discounts during the shopping festival, and there will be a surprise for my customers as well,” she said.
So, what is the former manager turned handmade children’s learning bookmaker looking forward to in 2022?
“First, I want to triple my monthly revenue. At the same time, I am also trying out packaging from Barber Miller with hopes to go towards 0% plastic on packaging. And finally, I hope that one day I can become a ShopeeXpert, a Shopee-certified seller who teaches others how best to sell on Shopee,” Ho said.
Gan Jun Qi, 36, said Drum Coffee Roasters started off in 2018 and was in the early stages of becoming a retail joint with wholesaling coffee as a venture when the pandemic hit.
While they decided to start taking orders manually in July the same year, it was a struggle to reach customers organically.
“We would have to take photos of the products for each customer, and then ask them if they wanted full beans or to have it ground down. We usually ask them if they would like the grind to be fine, medium or coarse, and then inform them about the cost. After that, we would wait for them to get back with a receipt and forward them a tracking number – it was a hassle,” Gan said.
For this move into e-commerce, Gan thanks Khaled Hamwi, 21, who convinced her to start on Shopee.
Starting from scratch, Khaled learned how to onboard Shopee by reading up articles and exploring how to work the platform on his own.
Khaled also recalled his joy when the company got an order from Singapore via the Shopee International Platform.
“It was a very smooth experience to ship our product to Singapore. When it comes to shipping overseas, a lot of businesses worry about the logistics and transit issues. All we had to do was print and attach the airway bill and pass it to the courier. Shopee does the rest of the shipping to the customer. As a way of expanding our market, it is a good idea,” he said.
For Gan, starting on Shopee has been an eye-opening experience, leading to the coffee roaster achieving five-figure sales in November – their highest so far.
“We sold about RM3,000 in January this year, but it has been gradually increasing every month since we started listing our wholesale products. Our customers now come from businesses including small cafes in Kemaman and Dungun from our neighbouring state Terengganu. We have also started getting orders from Sabah and Sarawak,” she said.
At the same time, the roastery is focused on being part of more offline events in order to promote their Shopee store, such as the Pesta Kopi in Central Market which took place on Dec 4 and 5.
“Customers who leave us good reviews on Shopee are really sweet. They are repeat customers and when we see their orders, we always forward them some new coffee blend to try out. People think that online stores are impersonal and the relationship ends when we ship the products to the customer, but it does not. We see these new virtual relationships coming alive, and look forward to meeting them in person when we attend events, hoping to meet some regular customers who turn up,” she said.
For the current 12.12 Birthday Sale on Shopee, Gan says Drum Coffee Roasters will be joining the Digital Malaysia Coffee Week which is ongoing till Dec 11. The company is offering vouchers of RM5 off with a minimum spend of RM20, as well as 15% off for timited Time deals for six products on Shopee.