Lelong’s Richard Tan sees opportunity

  • Sees Rocket Internet presence as sign that e-commerce has legs
  • Boost from education and e-commerce value-added services

Lelong’s Richard Tan sees opportunityLELONG.MY founder Richard Tan acknowledges that the pricing landscape has changed dramatically with the entrance of Rocket Internet and its two properties, lazada.my and zalora.my, into the Malaysian e-commerce landscape.
The German dotcom promises the lowest prices. Tan is adopting a “wait and see” attitude for now while stressing that his own premium e-commerce site, superbuy.my, can play the price game if it wants to.
Lelong.my is not really affected by zalora or lazada as it has a mostly non-fashion focus and its consumer tech offerings lean towards pre-owned items and more commodotized hardware items.
He claims that superbuy.my is still experiencing good month-on-month revenue growth despite the competition from recently launched lazada. He declines however to share what kind of growth superbuy.my is experiencing.

But the continued growth has convinced him that the entrance of Rocket Internet into Malaysia is actually good for the ecosystem as it gets more people interested to buy online. It has become part of the e-commerce ecosystem here, he notes, and has begun playing a role in educating users about e-commerce and raising public confidence in it.
“Offering good prices and backing it up with good services serve to increase customer trust in e-commerce and will spur [the creation of] a vibrant community of savvy e-commerce shoppers,” opines Tan.
While Rocket Internet's properties in Malaysia focus on increasing the pool of demand for e-commerce, Tan and Lelong.my focus on the supply, especially with their education efforts targeted at merchants.
The landing page of Lelong.my has a prominent banner on e-commerce classes for merchants. Tan goes so far as to say that it is a near certainty that eventually every merchant will have an online store-front to augment their brick and mortar business.
He already sees strong interest in learning about e-commerce from merchants. “Our workshops held last year during our e-commerce fair were sold out. Even the paid e-commerce classes were sold out,” he says.

He adds that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) have recognised that being online is an area of opportunity for them, but realise they need marketing help. “I really feel the area of e-commerce services will have strong prospects as merchants need help in marketing, payment solutions, hosting, and online store services.”
As an aside to our chat, Tan expresses concern that the Facebook listing fiasco will inflict “collateral damage” on the psyche of angel investors. “They will be wondering [if the risk is worth it in] investing, and if internet companies are hype or real."
The angel scene is developing locally but Tan still sees a big missing link. “We do not have too many people becoming millionaires because of their tech companies. In turn, this means there are fewer people on the ground who have made their fortunes from tech.”
“This group would actually be better qualified to asses the start-ups they meet,” he suggests.
Nonetheless, he feels one should just focus on the cards dealt and deal with it. Eventually Malaysia will have an internet company that spawns a group of millionaires who will become the next generation of hungry angels.
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