It’s okay to stare longingly at the US$2 trillion global ecommerce market, wishing there was a way to get in on the action. But setting up an online store is easier said than done. Sure, you could hire a developer to build a site or just purchase a custom template from Shopify. But what about all the time it takes to negotiate supplier contracts, arrange deliveries, and set up a payment gateway?
Even if you successfully navigate these hurdles, there’s the (very real) possibility of being muscled out by well-funded leviathans like Alibaba and Amazon. It seems like there’s just no recourse for regular people like you and I.
Tel Aviv-based Add2Store won’t give you a million dollars to start your own ecommerce company, but it is trying to democratize access to online commerce by building a community of suppliers and sellers.
If you’re confused, that’s okay because I was too when I first spoke with Barak Finkelshtein, co-founder.
“We are a marketplace for sellers,” he exhorts over a Skype call. “Think of us as a huge catalog, where you can pick and choose items and decide what you want to sell online.”
In layman’s terms, Add2Store brings together large suppliers that would ordinarily list only on sites like Alibaba and connects them to people who want to make money selling things online across the world.
“Alibaba is not a drop shipping website – it’s a retail website,” says Barak. “You can buy in bulk but if you locate the supplier and you want him to drop ship it doesn’t happen. They send bulk stock in containers – you can’t ship one or two items.”
Making money from home
So if someone without any existing products wanted to sell things online in the US, UK, Canada, or pretty much anywhere in the world really then they could register for an account on Add2Store. Once that’s set up they’re prompted to peruse through a list of items offered by suppliers. People can decide what they’d like to sell, on what sites, and their markup rates. The software takes care of the rest.
Let’s say I want to sell specialty coffee in places like UK, US, and Japan whilst sitting in Singapore. Add2Store can help connect me to a supplier of the goods based out of Colombia, for example. The supplier would reserve a portion of his stock and put it aside for all orders received through Add2Store.
As a seller, I would then use Add2Store’s SaaS product to identify which ecommerce stores to list on – these could be Amazon, eBay, or even Rakuten. Barak’s team would take care of things like pictures, product descriptions, keywords, and translations. I wouldn’t have to do anything but drag and drop.
If a buyer were to stumble across my listing on eBay generated through Add2Store, they’d see a regular human account. The transaction would be like any other. At the backend, however, Barak’s team would ping the supplier based out of Colombia to ship the product to the eventual destination. Payment would be made only after confirmation of delivery.
At the end of each month, I’d also receive a report indicating the efficacy of my sales channels and areas of improvement.
Barak says his product is compelling enough to get large suppliers on board. By connecting them to hundreds of sellers, they’re increasing visibility and pricing for their products across the globe which ultimately impacts their bottom line. He takes the example of a company that manufactures baby chairs who originally just committed 10 items to Add2Store.
“Their inventory was sold within a week and both the sellers and supplier were asking us for more,” he recalls.
The entrepreneur adds that most clients have seen an average of ten percent increase in revenues, with some of them even reaching as much as 40 percent.
There is competition in this space, such as Doba which offers a similar marketplace but with far more restrictive pricing in place. Doba will charge both sellers and suppliers a monthly retainer fee to maintain their accounts as well as a fixed cost per item sold. Barak’s startup charges a simple five percent commission on each sale with no monthly maintenance fees.
The idea for the startup itself came when Barak attempted to build a site that would translate Taobao into English and bring the products in reach of a global audience. But the team soon realized they were actually in direct competition with the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Lazada as they were still aiming to snare the eventual buyer. That’s when they decided to pivot and make it easier for sellers to access a much larger range of goods.
The startup is still bootstrapped – the team is looking to raise funds but isn’t overly concerned as the model is designed to be revenue positive from day one. For now the challenge is to scale on both the supplier and seller angle – with currently 300 active suppliers and about a hundred sellers using Add2Store.
“We are getting bigger minute by minute as users understand the opportunity ahead,” smiles Barak.
This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia.