Malaysians love malls and shopping. But most of all, we love discounts. In pre-pandemic times, we may have even gone out of our way to visit Genting Highland Premium Outlets and Johor Premium Outlets just to get branded items for cheaper.
Inspired by this demand he noticed in the locals, Kyle and 3 of his long-time friends set out to create a marketplace that replicates these premium outlets called CepatBeli, which was launched in May 2021.
One man’s (almost) trash is another man’s treasure
“During the pandemic, I was exploring different ways I could sustain myself and one of the ideas that came about was how to save usable products that are close to their expiry date (less than 6 months),” Kyle shared his lightbulb moment with Vulcan Post.
“I realised then that with the economy this bad due to COVID-19, there may be a way to get these unwanted goods to consumers who may want it at a huge discount.” Kyle further explored this idea and included discounted clothing too, inspired by the premium outlet concept.
Hence, Kyle and his friends (who came from supply chain, sales, and marketing backgrounds) set out to invest RM15K each into this idea. Kyle is the only one working on CepatBeli full-time while the others come in every now and then to help out when needed.
Onboarding vendors took a straightforward approach with the help of a “thick face”, Kyle said. “I would say that firstly it was a combination of proper and concise explanations on what we can offer them. We want them to understand that there is no loss on their side to work with us.”
By getting brand owners and manufacturers directly on board, they cut out any middlemen or resellers, helping CepatBeli cut down the costs of what they’re selling.
Easing the e-commerce hassle for merchants
On their site, you can find some notable brands like Aik Cheong, DC Comics, Volkswagen, etc. The type of products they sell includes fashion, babies and toys, electronics and accessories, and dried food.
The team provides these merchants with free warehouse spaces, pickup, and delivery, order fulfilment, and even graphic designing services, as they want them to experience a hassle-free end-to-end solution. To monetise, they then take a small percentage of the sales that merchants generate.
Because they’re a new team without backgrounds in IT and e-commerce, they sought the guidance of MDEC through talks, meetings, and entrepreneurship classes like Go-Ecommerce.
It was also through MDEC that Kyle and his team met their angel investor who pointed out the weaknesses in their business plan and taught them how to get the right product-market fit, and how to focus on their market reach.
Convincing merchants and users that they’re legit
It was tough for them as a new business to convince brands to trust their site, which is why they offered the aforementioned hassle-free services to incentivise brands into getting on board.
However, it was harder to convince users that the products and brands on their site were genuine. “Many consumers had concerns on the products’ authenticity as these products were discounted up to 70%,” Kyle explained.
Hence, they’re currently addressing these concerns through brand awareness campaigns and Facebook Live events where they provide hefty discounts to the first few customers in hopes that positive reviews would grow. As of now, they’re seeing a lot of household products being bought from their site.
“Malaysians are very price-sensitive and are always looking for the cheapest bargains. Campaigns with free shipping above a certain amount always attract consumers that are far from reach,” Kyle said, adding that they implemented that strategy upon realising this.
Initially operating from Kyle’s home, they now have a warehouse space in Shah Alam in order to accommodate their growing stock.
Earning enough to give back during the pandemic
“One of our big mistakes early on was trying to save cost on our initial web development, and this resulted in us having to rebuild the website from scratch again when users increased and the platform couldn’t keep up with the requests,” Kyle recalled.
But Kyle cut their team some slack because their first website was also a pilot without any market validation, hence why they didn’t dare to invest more for a better website at first.
Fortunately, the overall pandemic didn’t affect them too much as they’re an e-commerce business, which we’ve seen generally thrives at times like these.
While Kyle declined to comment on their revenue growth, he proudly shared that the team was able to run a CSR campaign to give back to the community during the second MCO. They gave out masks, easy-to-cook meals, and daily essentials to delivery riders who dropped by Centrepoint Bandar Utama.
“Currently we are doing another round of CSR campaign to provide care packages to the white flag programme and charity houses. We’re working closely with the town council to determine the location of the needed households and will be sending directly to their doorsteps,” Kyle said. Their ability to give back was also what he defined as their proudest moment so far.
Thanks to their connections from businesses and MDEC events, they’re able to procure goods from big brands and delegate them to those in need. “As times are hard during the pandemic, providing reliable products is in itself a huge bargain,” Kyle concluded.
Featured Image Credit: Kyle Keah, co-founder of CepatBeli