When he was a second-year scholar at Nanyang Technological College, Mr Tan Jiayu’s fondness for biking spurred him to begin a motorbike store in Sims Avenue.
However the then 26-year-old dismissed any concepts about going surfing as he felt it might not be a helpful technique for Bikemart SG, which, moreover retailing bicycles, additionally does repairs and offers in second-hand bicycles.
Mr Tan, now 29, a former nationwide triathlete, mentioned: “For top-value objects, individuals do not actually buy them on-line. And for a bicycle, individuals normally want to come back to strive it earlier than deciding on whether or not to make the acquisition.”
When Covid-19 got here alongside, nevertheless, Mr Tan may solely restore and repair bicycles, with Bikemart SG’s core enterprise of promoting new and used bicycles suspended through the circuit breaker from April 7 to June 1 final 12 months because it was thought of non-essential.
Greater than half of the store’s month-to-month income was worn out then, and there have been additionally few walk-in clients.
Mr Tan mentioned: “It was then that we determined we needed to discover methods to achieve out to extra individuals. We had a variety of time on our fingers, so we began going surfing and seeing what we may do there.”
After enrolling the enterprise within the SMEs Go Digital programme final June, Mr Tan determined to get it on board e-commerce platforms resembling Shopee and Lazada, as a substitute of organising his personal web site for direct purchases.
He wished to faucet the big buyer base that these platforms have already got. As an alternative of itemizing bicycles for gross sales, he determined to promote parts and equipment, resembling tyres, pumps and gears.
By the top of June, Mr Tan had seen his revenues improve by about 15 per cent, which took him unexpectedly.
Though enterprise is generally again to regular now, the extra income from on-line gross sales has helped significantly within the firm’s restoration.
Mr Tan mentioned: “If I knew that there could be an final result like this, I might have began this a lot earlier. I assumed nobody would purchase bicycle elements from a web-based market, as a result of as a former athlete, I would favor to go to specialised websites to purchase issues.
“However as e-commerce turns into extra in style, I feel persons are beginning to be extra receptive to purchasing issues on-line so long as it’s from a reputable platform.”
In just some months, his enterprise has risen to turn into one of many high 5 sellers on Lazada, hitting near 70 to 80 transactions a month. These make up 40 per cent of the bicycle firm’s income.
However whilst on-line gross sales boomed, the agency’s back-end processes resembling inventory stock administration have been nonetheless being performed manually, and somebody needed to make a deduction at any time when one thing was purchased from on-line platforms. When this was not performed precisely, it led to errors resembling clients with the ability to place orders on-line even when there was no extra inventory. Mr Tan would then must make a refund and apologise to the client.
After about 10 such incidents, Mr Tan determined to undertake digital software program that automates the stock-taking course of by syncing the inventory depend throughout the completely different platforms.
He mentioned: “Ideally, we’d wish to make it to a degree the place the e-commerce aspect can be doing a lot better than the retail retailer. Within the occasion of one other Covid-19 outbreak, we’d not be as affected and would nonetheless have the ability to cowl our working bills.”