If you’re a fan of fantasy, you may take a great liking to Game of Thrones, or if you love cooking, maybe MasterChef is your slice of pie.
For the aspiring entrepreneurs, perhaps shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den might be their cup of tea.
For Engthurs Ang (29) and Png Zhe Hao (33), founder and co-founder of Doropu, Asia’s first price drop shopping app, it was borne from watching a British reverse auction TV show.
Prices Can Drop To As Low As 1 Cent
Both of them met when they were studying in the UK, at the University of Liverpool.
They were the only two Singaporean and Malaysian students who stayed off-campus during their first year in the UK, when most students would choose to stay in campus dormitories.
The idea for Doropu came about when they were indulging in Price Drop.
“We thought that if we are able to digitalise this process, we can simplify the process of users buying and sellers selling, and do a price drop every 24 hours, instead of limiting it to just the two hours of TV slots everyday.”
After graduating, Engthurs started his own company building websites and developing apps, among other things.
It was through his business partner that Doropu’s development hit its stride, partly thanks to good timing that led them to acquire funds.
They felt that 2018 was the right time to build a new ecommerce platform as online shopping behaviour has been growing significantly over the years.
Zhe Hao shared that the market size of ecommerce in Southeast Asia (SEA) grew from $5.5 billion Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) in 2015 to $23.3 billion in 2018, according to a Google report.
SEA also has one of the highest number of smartphone users in the world, with 90% of the population connected to the Internet through their smartphones, he added.
“Consumers are more receptive and [tend to favour] buying things online now, so there is enormous potential in the future,” he said.
Their vision for Doropu was to change the way consumers bought things online and they were able to secure investments from angel investors.
The change in shopping behaviour these days is evident.
With media streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube, and shopping apps and sites, there are lesser reasons for us to leave our homes or intentionally head out somewhere to shop or watch a movie.
Here’s how Doropu works: a certain number of units of a product will be sold at a specified price.
The price will drop until all units are sold, and all the buyers will pay the final, lowest price.
Earlier buyers will receive a cash rebate for the difference between the price they purchased at.
Doropu’s price drop mechanism allows shoppers to purchase a variety of products, from household necessities to electrical appliances, at discounted prices as low as S$0.01.
They also offer free delivery nationwide.
Doropu Like It’s Hot
Doropu was first launched in Malaysia in May 2018 followed by Singapore in January 2019.
“Opening [the] Doropu Singapore office was the next logical step,” said Zhe Hao, who’s also Country Manager for Doropu Singapore.
“Singapore and Malaysia have a lot in common such as the languages and cultures, so it was easier for us to replicate this model here.”
He went on to explain that if they had launched their office elsewhere instead of Singapore, they’d have to start all over again, in a sense.
They’d have to study that particular market, buying culture, workplace culture, and languages, among other factors.
Launching in Singapore allowed them to easily share existing resources and talents in Malaysia.
Getting users to try out Doropu was a challenge, Zhe Hao shared.
“Price drop shopping is unheard of in Asia,” he said.
“People are familiar with auctioning; bidding and buying at higher prices, but no one has heard of buying things as prices go down with everyone paying the final price!”
They educate users through Doropu, by having them buy and experience the price drop themselves and letting them understand that it doesn’t matter if they bought it first or last, everyone pays the final price.
“There are no other app or website that are like Doropu at the moment,” Zhe Hao stated.
He noted that consumers only go online and start browsing when there’s something they need to buy.
With Doropu, users can check the app daily for deals on items that they may potentially need.
The app also has a group chat feature that shows the number of live views and gamifies users’ purchasing journey.
“Doropu users go to our app almost everyday, even if they have no need to buy the items, but they still check back on the app because they want to see what is the product on sale and how cheap the product is sold on that day.”
“Or if they have bought the items, they will check back to see what is the final price and how much they have saved. There is instant gratification,” Zhe Hao shared.
Since July, the company has been working on a “soft launch” for their merchants and listing their products on the Doropu platform.
Doropu doesn’t charge merchants any listing fees like other ecommerce platforms, Zhe Hao revealed, and they “guarantee items will be sold out in 24 hours because [they] have thousands of ready buyers”.
Visibility on products is “very high” and that merchants needn’t compete with the thousands of other brands on their platform, he added.
He gave us an example of how Doropu helps merchants.
Typically, businesses would wait for a festivity or season to organise a sales event, like a clearance sale where outdated products get marked down to 70% their original prices.
“But by listing on Doropu, items are listed at RSSP price and then dropped, [so] there is a chance items are sold at a lesser discount, between one to 69% instead of a 70%,” he explained.
“And they make more money.”
The price drop business is not limited to physical goods, it can be applied to the selling of services as well, Zhe Hao pointed out.
Unlike the typical business model which focuses on rapid growth first before monetising or revenue generation, Doropu business plans allow them to prepare for monetisation in different stages.
Zhe Hao shared that they have laid down frameworks and foundations, and are already getting streams of revenue from current partnerships and sales.
Not Doropu-ing Out So Easily
In August 2018, Doropu raised a US$1.2 million seed funding after an initial round of angel investment of US$150,000 to build the Doropu app.
“It was very tough on the first day that Doropu launched, however, we managed to gather more than 5,000 downloads in the first month without any major marketing,” Zhe Hao recalled.
“It was what gave our investors the confidence that this product could work.”
Their investors were also aware that there is a huge opportunity in ecommerce in SEA.
Since they have first-mover advantage, they were able to gain attention easily.
To date, they have sold over 50,000 products on the app.
The app saw over 220,000 downloads and 100,000 registered users in Singapore and Malaysia.
Doropu also has a record high of 12,000 unique visitors in a day and an average monthly growth rate of 20% in terms of new customers.
Despite these promising numbers, the founders are not going to let their guards down.
Zhe Hao shared that they will continue to “change and improve” as they go.
Since the launch of Doropu, their strategies have evolved when it comes to user acquisition and making the shopping experience better for existing users.
Initially, Doropu sold one product every 24 hours, but after a few months, they decided to incorporate a “shopping day” each month when they would sell multiple products in 24 hours.
For example, from midnight to 10am, they’d sell vouchers, then headphones from 10am to 2pm.
Prices would drop to $0 by the end of the time slot if there are no buyers.
The change in strategies is one of the many measures the founders have taken to ensure the scalability of the business, increasing the number of products they can offer, as well as the engagement on the app.
By 2021, they aim to expand to Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand after solidifying their experiences and foothold in existing markets.
“We will be able to scale at a much quicker pace in the next country we decide to launch in,” Zhe Hao said.
Some of their immediate plans include ramping up the number of product offers a day to attract more merchants to come onboard.
They also plan to go beyond selling physical goods and include the sales of services and F&B deals, among other things, Zhe Hao told Vulcan Post.
With so many attractive deals and an interesting method of shopping, I think I might become a Doropien too.
Featured Image Credit: Doropu