Entrepreneur

An E-Commerce Boom: How S’pore Gaming Retailer Qisahn Saw 40% Sales Increase During COVID-19

Video games and gadgets retailer Qisahn traces its roots all the way back to the early 2000s.

Founder Soon Qishan shared quite matter-of-factly that they are the online pioneers of the video gaming industry in Singapore.

He started selling online when he was still a second-year junior college student, peddling his wares on online platforms like HardwareZone and Yahoo! Auctions.

“I started Qisahn with a small inventory worth $10,000,” said Qishan, adding that he could buy 30 PlayStation Portables (PSPs) at the time with that amount of money.

You might have noticed that Qisahn and Qishan are spelt differently. The misspelling in the business name was unintentional, revealed the 34-year-old.

He had registered for an online account and accidentally typed ‘Qisahn’ instead, and later thought it was “cool” to use his misspelled name as a forum nickname.

Subsequently, he went on to use that name to set up his business. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as many of his customers remember the unique name.

However, HardwareZone banned selling on the platform in 2007, which dampened his entrepreneurial endeavours.

During an overseas internship stint under the NUS Overseas College programme, Qishan spent a year in Silicon Valley among technology start-ups. The time there made him realise the burgeoning opportunity of e-commerce so he started selling on Lazada.

His most successful campaign — a joint one with Lazada — witnessed $150,000 worth of sales in a span of just three days.

Dominating The E-Commerce Space In S’pore

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Qisahn team with founder Soon Qishan (first row, extreme right) / Image Credit: Qisahn

Soon, Qisahn dominated the local video games space with its low prices and wide selection of products.

Today, they also have a physical store at Far East Shopping Centre, a retail website, as well as stores in online marketplaces such as Lazada.

Each retail store serves a different purpose, said Qishan. The physical store, for one, serves walk-in customers as well as doubles as a “storeroom” for all its inventory.

Meanwhile, its Lazada store has over 5,000 followers with a positive seller rating of 91%. It is also the authorised dealer for Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox One.

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Screenshot from Qisahn’s Lazada store

Looking back on his journey, Qishan confessed that he didn’t start to sell games because he was interested in them.

He simply likes the idea of selling online.

“Back then, I had a computer which was not common. Games were something I had access to and someone was willing to show me how to buy from suppliers,” said Qishan.

He was curious, and decided to “give it a try.”

In the early days, there were not many online marketplaces in Singapore so they only sold on two channels: their offline store and website Qisahn.com.

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Image Credit: Qisahn

“Lazada has made selling so easy. Back then, you have to think about how to get web traffic,” said Qishan, adding that the marketplace allows sellers to tap on a large pool of consumers.

“Last time, people started their shopping from Google, so SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing) were very important. Nowadays, people start their shopping from Lazada.”

“Back then, competitors were also not tech-savvy and it was difficult to bring traffic to your website. So for a period of time, the only retailer (for video games and gadgets) was Qisahn. I had the monopoly for a while and it was a small market. The online retail market expanded and I still had the monopoly until Lazada came in,” he said with a laugh.

Booming Sales On Lazada

Qishan explained that the reason he was attracted to Lazada’s platform was because of their low payment fee of only 2% (versus 3.2% for other online marketplaces). The platform also has a 0% commission, allowing sellers to maximise their earnings.

That 1% difference in payment fee is equivalent to between 20% and 30% in profits for his top-selling products.

He stressed that seller support is the number one function of Lazada for Qishan.

They have a dedicated team purely for seller education. It’s not just a helpline, and they have many programmes to outreach sellers. Pre-Covid-19, we had monthly meetings with sellers. Every seller was invited. When I first joined [the meeting], the turnout was close to 100, now it’s close to 200.

They really engage the sellers. When running their campaigns, they will ask sellers for the best discounts so their prices are very competitive in campaigns. Other platforms don’t have such a strong seller engagement programme. Their sellers are also not very active in terms of price changes and promotions, but Lazada sellers are more active and competitive.

– Soon Qishan, founder of Qisahn

Qishan is also a member of the Facebook group for Lazada sellers, which serves as a community to help other sellers.

Recently, the government served a closure notice to all online sellers but he was unsure when they could start operating again, so he asked the group — that’s how Lazada sellers share intel and information with each other.

Qishan also hosts training sessions for Lazada sellers. He has held a course on the tips to sell better on Lazada, using the chat function for weekly training sessions.

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Soon Qishan at LazStar Academy / Image Credit: Soon Qishan

On whether he participates in special events such as Lazada’s Birthday Sale, Singles’ Day (11.11) and Online Tech Show (held in March 2020 when the IT Show was cancelled), he said: “All the time. Our sales increase a lot.”

For last year’s Singles’ Day campaign, he raked in over $300,000 in sales, which is 100 times more than on a regular day.

Despite Covid-19, which had caused a retail pandemic for most sellers, he has seen a 40% increase in sales for his Lazada store.

Sales surged so much that he had to actually close it for two days so he could keep up with the orders.

Although the government has mandated that he had to close his physical retail store (since it falls under “non-essential services”), he is glad that he was able to continue operating through his Lazada store and other online channels.

“Now is the time when online retail has such a strong advantage over offline retail,” said Qishan.

Why You Should Jump On The E-Commerce Bandwagon

If you are looking to sell online, there is no better time than now.

Lazada is partnering Enterprise Singapore to help SME retailers, who have little or no e-commerce experience to start selling online, in a bid to future-proof their businesses.

New sellers can enjoy a 90% discount on the first $10,000 spent to on-board e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, providing them with $9,000 in subsidies if they sign up now.

Lazada will also provide additional support such as seller training where sellers can access over 200 free online tutorials, weekly training sessions with e-Commerce experts, hands-on workshop on increasing conversion rates, traffic and revenue per head, and much more.

This aims to help retailers change their business model, and diversify their sales channels and revenue streams beyond traditional brick-and-mortar.

The current Covid-19 situation has further emphasised the importance of having a robust e-commerce strategy to help retailers be more competitive in the long-term.

For more information on the grant as well as sign up for it, check out their page.

This article is written in collaboration with Lazada.

Featured Image Credit: Lazada / @ozdj via Instagram

 

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