Photo: Khmer Times/Pann Rachana
KT: Can you tell us when you started your business and why you think it could be good in your area?
Phalla: buyloy.com is an online store where you can buy a lot of different things. In November 2018, we took over running the site for real. So, almost two years have passed. Before we made this e-commerce platform, we ran a business called couponloy.com, where all discount products and goods were offered. It made it possible to sell a wide range of items at a price. But the business model was hard for us because merchants who advertised discounted goods on our platform did not want to work with us and did not want to pay their fees. Because of this, the business plan couldn't make money. We looked at things and asked people what they thought. We try to hear what our customers want and how we can make the business easier for them. So, our business model has to be able to change to meet the wants of our customers.
KT: What made you want to start the business?
Phalla: So, once more, buyloy.com is made to solve customer problems because our online shopping platform is committed to offering thousands of products that are safe and easy to use. All of the goods that customers buy through our platform will be sent right to their door. It has been brought to our attention that Cambodia does not yet have an e-shopping site that brings together all the different kinds of goods that can be bought there. So, people have to go shopping and look for what they want in different places. And that's a problem because it takes up their time. I think this is a chance, and it's what led us to start the e-commerce site buyloy.com, where we hope to sell everything from A to Z. Customers just go to our website, pick out what they want to buy, and we send it to their house. We have learned a lot from Alibaba and Amazon, but that doesn't mean we do everything they do. Our business plan doesn't look like either Amazon or Alibaba. Our platform is made with local trends in mind.
KT: What problems have you run into, and how have you solved them?
Phalla: Our team has almost 10 young, smart, and skilled people with different skills. As a new business, we have had trouble with cash flow. The outbreak of COVID-19 around the world has added to our problems. Some of our customers are trying to save money during the pandemic, which has hurt our sales and income. But I hope things will get better soon. I don't think we can move forward alone if we want to grow a business. We are looking for investors who might want to help us get money. Also, we're ready to welcome them because we now have a skilled team and a clear idea of what we want to do. But there isn't enough funding. There is a lot of work to do, and we are taking small steps toward our goal.
KT: After a year of running your business, what have you been able to do? What are your plans for the future, and how big do you think your business will get?
Phalla: We didn't think that running our business for more than a year would bring us as much as it has. So far, more than 5,000 people visit our e-commerce site every month, and it has more than 1,000 products for sale. So far, we've teamed up with 50 providers, and there are more to come. As I've already said, our plan is to offer goods from A to Z on our platform. We have made plans to be the best online business in Cambodia in 15 years. We think that plan will work. So, we first focus on the Cambodian market. Then, we'll expand our services to include the Asean market and other places. Even though some locals aren't used to the technology yet when it comes to buying things online, we can see that the trend is slowly changing as more and more locals learn about the technology. Every day, they are changing the way they buy their goods.
KT: As a young tech entrepreneur who runs an e-commerce site, what is your message?
Phalla: Well, I think it's taking time for e-commerce business in Cambodia. We don't think that our business will make much money in the next three to five years. So it might not be good at running things. But if we want the business to grow, we need to be patient and really care about it. When we love what we're doing, we don't get tired of it. We sometimes work from Monday to Sunday, from morning until night. So, be passionate and have long-term goals, which I think are essential if we want to reach our goal.