Oops! Meet the Thai E-Commerce Start-up that Began as an Apology
How one founder’s mistake became his light bulb moment
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Many start-ups begin with a problem, but Trumph Lusarun Silpsrikul, CEO of Page365, says his company started as an apology.
Silpsrikul’s friend was running a Facebook store and trying to scale up her business. He advised her to drive her Facebook traffic to an e-commerce website, rather than continue to sell directly on Facebook.
“Apparently, an e-commerce website has lower operating cost, better analytics, and more features to accommodate e-commerce business growth,” he explains of his reasoning at the time, before adding, “We were wrong.”
His friend ended up losing 80% of her purchases and soon reverted to selling her products via Facebook. This became Silpsrikul’s light bulb moment. “That’s why we created a workflow and software that empowers direct purchase on social platforms while allowing business to scale effectively. Later on, that project became Page365,” he explains.
Helping social sellers in Southeast Asia
From this inauspicious beginning in 2011, Page365 has evolved into a one-stop platform for store management on social commerce. “Our platform empowers sellers to engage thousands of customers a day, process huge amount of orders, and understand key behavioral insights. Sellers get turnkey access to our end-to-end platform services ranging from lead generation and payment processing to shipping and package tracking via SMS notification,” Silpsrikul says about Page365’s value proposition.
An example of Page 365’s use cases is paying through Facebook. After discovering a product organically through a friend or through a Facebook ad, a buyer can express interest in purchasing it through commenting or chatting. The seller then issues a Page365 invoice as a link via private chat with the buyer, who can then pay for the product and track shipping from the same invoice.
From the Page365 dashboard, the seller can then track the order status and see information and insights about this customer.
Page365’s biggest validation is the market. The company now services merchants in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. All totaled, the company has over 150,000 merchants and more than 1 million individual buyers. Their client base spans part-time merchants all the way up to large brands and corporations.
Silpsrikul believes they have grown so fast because Page365 has focused exclusively on social commerce. “We partnered with social platforms like LINE and Facebook to figure out the best way for merchants to sell on these platforms and provided supporting services like payments, logistics, advertisements,” he says.
While there are many social commerce platforms in the West, one advantage that Page365 offers is localization.
“We know we cannot just clone from successful e-commerce models in the U.S. or Europe because consumer behavior is completely different here,” he says, “Four years of studies and experiments allow us to design best practice for social commerce.”
As an example, many merchants in Southeast Asia are hardwired to expect software to be free. For these merchants who cannot afford the subscription fee, Page365 offers a freemium model. These merchants on the freemium model then pay slightly higher prices for extra services, but enjoy the benefit of flexibility.
The most common problem is on the other end of the spectrum — most of Page365’s merchants have never used software to run their operations before. As a result, Silpsrikul and his team must start from square one.
“Educating our merchants that our kind of solutions exists and how we benefit them is the most challenging part of the business,” he says.
Page365 educates its customers through sustained content marketing efforts, which requires patience. “Getting merchants to integrate Page365 to their operation takes time. So our strategy is to keep engaging with merchants with informative contents,” Silpsrikul says.
The company will need to continue these measures as its roadmap becomes even more ambitious and encompassing.
“We are expanding our services and channels to fulfill all needs of merchants in Thailand and Vietnam. On-demand logistics, alternative payment options, alternative social channels are examples of what we have in pipeline,” he says.