Targeted mobile shopping business opportunities and the principle of ‘making friends’ with consumers via social media and live streaming are essential skills of E-business.
Many people believe that to be an online e-business is to establish a comprehensive source of supply, develop good logistics and cash flow models, and display products on a shelf one by one, and it’s done. KuoBrothers co-founder and CEO Kuo Shu-Chi believes that online e-businesses need to adopt a proactive mentality and communicate with their customers if they genuinely want to shorten the sense of distance between them.
KuoBrothers has moved on from their beginnings with the founding of Atlaspost to join the group buying website GROUPON, and from there to the founding of KuoBrothers and the development of their online e-business; still, the most important single lesson Kuo ever learned came out of those early days at Atlaspost: the most vital aspect of online e-business development is making friends with customers in order to create bigger marketing opportunities.
Kuo believes that many people feel that since Taiwan is a small market and its physical stores provide convenient shopping, it must not be easy for e-business services to expand development. However, since the density of smart phone usage in Taiwan is high and logistics services are robust and convenient, it is actually an advantageous place for the development of e-business services.
Kuo states that KuoBrothers is currently adopting a segmental marketing approach and the ‘small is beautiful’ marketing strategy to avoid decreases in the quality of service due to too many products being on the shelves at the same time. Therefore, although the company currently has over 3,000 supplier partners, the actual product on-shelf rate is only 50%. Moreover, by making the review process more transparent through the use of social media, the company has also optimized consumer reviews. Even very popular products are taken off the shelves if their consumer review scores are too low, and fresh food products can be returned or exchanged unconditionally.
Although returned products are not necessarily good for business and the costs can add up, Kuo believes that a trusting relationship with consumers is more important and only by eliminating consumer doubts can he push for further e-business marketing development opportunities.
Traditional e-businesses can expand marketing opportunities via social media and search services
Social media and search services such as LINE, Facebook, and Google are starting to actively focus on e-business development, and Kuo believes that this has enabled more people to become familiar with the various modes of online consumption. As for whether or not this poses a threat to existing e-business services, Kuo believes that existing e-businesses can instead seize even bigger opportunities for development through these resources; for example, Google’s precision search engine makes it easier to market products.
With the hope of creating more opportunities to engage with its consumer audience, KuoBrothers recently added live streaming to its services. The company is also testing the waters with live streaming, as it has done so with the once popular group buying and the booming mobile shopping models. Kuo notes that mobile shopping only accounted for 3% of total trade volume just a few years ago, but now it has increased by over 70%. Therefore, he believes that one must be on the lookout for all potential developments when managing an e-business.
Kuo pointed out that while traditional large scale e-businesses still possess many advantages such as their existing supply channels, logistics resources, and brand prestige, their past experience and established practices may hinder their transformation, making it difficult for them to attempt changes to their operations. This opens up an opportunity for emerging e-businesses to enter the market offering new services. For example, when KuoBrothers was starting out, they implemented individually themed websites with varying marketing intensities to attract different consumer groups. This resulted in greater repeat purchase rates and gave way to vertically integrated campaigns that led to further sales.
Jerry (Shu-Chi) Kuo founded Atlaspost with his brother Andy and their wives in 2007. Atlaspost made the list of Taiwan’s top twenty websites in three short years. In the course of seeking a new business model, the four decided to use their existing base of more than a million members to found the “Million Net-Friends Group Buying Network” and joined the group buying market. The company was acquired by Groupon in December 2010. After working as general manager of Groupon Taiwan for more than a year, Jerry decided once again to create a new startup and founded the KuoBrothers Corp; it made its official IPO in Taiwan’s capital market in October 2016.
Kuo, with his years of experience running vertical e-businesses, will be offering his incisive input to e-business managers at DATE SUMMIT.
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