The problem for new startups trying to secure a slice of the ecommerce pie is an issue of differentiation, which will shape the future of ecommerce in Southeast Asia. Most stores are vanilla products – you log on to the site, search for products that interest you, compare prices and place your order. The likes of Amazon, Lazada, Flipkart, and Alibaba already have millions of items for sale, why should a user buy from someone else unheard of?
“That’s precisely how iBuySell aims to set itself apart,” says Kaustuva Mukhurjee, the startup’s CEO. What is iBuySell?
A mobile shopping marketplace with a very unique feature – a “live sale” section where new products across several categories are listed every few minutes.
The price of each item drops every second until one person decides to purchase it, thereby “locking” it.
Once the price is frozen, the item is taken offline and reserved for the shopper. It does not follow a bidding mechanism similar to how eBay functions. Shoppers have to decide whether to wait for the price to drop further, in which case they risk losing it to someone else, or purchase straight away. There’s initially a free, one-month-long trial through which they can familiarize themselves with the dynamics of the store. Afterwards they have the option of paying a transaction fee anywhere between 5 and 15 percent or a monthly subscription fee which starts at US$29.
A win-win strategy for sellers and consumers
Kaustuva says there’s plenty of incentive for sellers to come onboard the marketplace too. “Listing process is simple and fast for sellers – click some product pictures and upload from their phone or desktop. Enter the item title, description, a few details such as size, brand, and shipping costs,” he adds.
The discount window is small, lasting about 90 seconds.
The trick behind this 90 second discount model is that prices do not fall under a minimum ceiling indicated by the seller. This helps eliminate the uncertainty associated with online auctions as sellers do not know what price they might get and may also end up sustaining losses.
Kaustuva explains the idea for his store came about after he thought about consumers disliking the seven day wait period for the auction to close or having to bid several times in order to nab the item.
‘The online bidding systems on sites like eBay were frustrating and time-consuming so why not make thing fun and exciting while moving products fast for sellers?’
And that’s how iBuySell is different from other flash sales sites. Discounted products on those stores are usually available anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.
“The ultimate goal of ecommerce is to engage consumers and encourage them to make a purchase decision. People don’t buy stuff just to get the things they want but also have an exciting experience,” affirms Kaustuva.
A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on July 11. Read the full article here.