How did you start this business?
The idea for BuyMeStuff came out of pure necessity. Spending endless hours browsing the internet and running around town visiting various stores to get the best deal in the market was getting too cumbersome. The Co-Founders AbhishekVohra and Mahendra Harish came up with the idea where retailers try to win the buyers business.
I got involved in the business at a later stage. We kept going back to the drawing board to come up with solutions that addressed the pain points in the online retail industry. It was a good idea but bringing it to life was certainly challenging.
We now have a model that is a win-win situation for everyone. The retailers get the traffic to their doorstep and the buyers get to choose from different offers from the comfort of their couch.
What are the challenges you’ve encountered in building a start-up online marketplace business?
We have encountered the same issues everyone else faces in the start-up community. In the early stages, identifying the right people and company to develop our customized platform was a daunting task. We experienced significant delays, compromised quality of work and a lot of inefficiencies. It was also chewing up a significant portion of our resources. Over a period of time we put together a great bunch of people and thankfully we now have a great IT team.
Marketing and getting the word out through the right channelshas been tough but it is a work in progress. There are so many marketing “gurus” that we have had to tread carefully in this space.It’s also a catch 22. You need to engage a person/company before you can see results. If there is no engagement then it is hard to judge the quality.
We have learnt our lessons along the way and I am sure there are plenty more where that comes from.
By nature of your business as an online marketplace, it’s essential for BuyMeStuff to build an online brand. How much does the online space, including social media, matter to the company?
Building a brand is very important to the core business of BuyMeStuff. Social media is a vital tool to reach out to new customers. Other online marketing channels are equally essential to grow the business. Online marketing targets areas that traditional marketing cannot reach. A brand represents credibility, trust, engagement, loyalty, consistency, quality, perception, etc – all of which takes time and various methods including the use of offline marketing.
What are the best tips to growing your audience for an online marketplace?
In my opinion, building a community and growing organically with the help of Social Media should be a priority for every business. Often small businesses ignore the power of Social Media. Spending a lot of money for Pay Per Click (PPC) does not lead to conversion. PPC may drive traffic to the website. However, for the leads to turn to conversion it is essential to have a website that is fully optimized to gain the trust of buyers. Building a community, understanding their needs and testing the market also helps in growing the online audience. It is difficult for start-ups to have a big budget for marketing. In order to stand out from the crowd, thinking outside the box, harnessing the power of video marketing etc and coming up with innovative ideas gets the word out quicker.
If you could leave our readers with one last piece of business advice, what would it be?
Every business needs have the aptitude to change. The most important stakeholder of a business is the customer. Listen to them and act on the pain points by providing solutions. Changing with times is a sure way to grow.