Entrepreneur

These Two M’sian Founders Are Trying To Bring Old Grandpappy Shops Into The 21st Century

Author’s Blurb: When I think of an online platform that lists brick & mortar merchants, my mind immediately goes to e-commerce: “They’re helping these businesses set up an online presence and sell online, right?” But I’ve learnt that that may not always be the case, actually.

Shop Hubby is a little different from most online platforms you’d know that have merchant listings.

2 years ago, co-founders KJ and Aries had the same vision of creating a platform to help traditional brick & mortar shops go online.

But here’s the thing—these merchants wouldn’t actually be selling anything on the platform.

To their surprise, however, the acceptance rate of such a solution was rather high as they went around knocking on the doors of shops to pitch their service.

Within their first 3 months, they successfully sourced their first 50 shops and were able to raise their first round of funding as well as collaborate with a prominent app developer to build their app and website.

Today, they have 350 local shops on board, and Shop Hubby works with over 50 influencers in their campaign to revive these local shops.

Not Quite E-Commerce

“Reviving their business means rejuvenating their business models by moving them online and reaching out to customers not only in their operating areas, but to different regions and states too,” KJ told Vulcan Post.

Going online undoubtedly adds value to a physical shop’s business, he admitted. “However, going online does not necessarily mean that they must sell online, because what we aim is to convert the online populations to become these shops’ walk-in customers.”

The Shop Hubby team with the shop owners of Kasel Sports / Image Credit: Shop Hubby

In essence, accessibility is the main thing Shop Hubby wants to tackle for these shops. It’s rare that you would know of a physical store’s promos and deals if they didn’t have social media, so a platform like Shop Hubby’s that clearly lists out stores according to category and deals provides a solution for both customers and sellers.

“Currently, there is no such app in the market which is able to integrate all the local shops in the vicinity and to help the local shops reach out to shoppers, be they locals or tourists,” KJ added.

From a consumer viewpoint, Shop Hubby’s platform acts like a GPS or map of sorts with added information on the shops, such as what they sell and the types of deals they’re having at the moment.

You can sort the shop listings shown through 3 categories: discounts, category (furniture, electronics, optical, etc.), and by mode of travel (driving, walking, or public transport).

Despite e-commerce being the ‘in’ thing right now, I believe that there are others like me out there who still prefer visiting a physical store and purchasing a product with cash, and it’s people like us who probably make up Shop Hubby’s target shoppers.

Marketing Matters

When it comes to e-commerce, it’s a lot easier to track how well a merchant’s sales are performing.

On the other hand, KJ said that Shop Hubby simply provides the necessities and formula in terms of marketing for brick & mortar shops, but the shops need to put in effort to increase their sales in a sustainable manner too.

Shop Hubby tracks the metrics of each shop’s online presence via post reach, engagement, and live video conversion.

According to KJ, their social media consistently has a 300,000 post reach, and they’ve got about 5,000 mobile app users now.

To boost foot traffic, they also provide customers with an RM5 daily incentive to get out there and support the local shops.

Shops who register with Shop Hubby pay a fee as low as RM900 per year to access services like professional photographers, videographers, influencers, and social media boostings.

Some of Shop Hubby’s services in progress / Image Credit: Shop Hubby

“Our business model is not to capitalise our profits through social media like any other marketing firm, but to integrate them all in our app in the shortest possible time period,” KJ said.

However, the speed at which they reach shop owners to onboard them remains one of the team’s biggest challenges.

Merchants are generally stubborn, KJ shared, and this means that they have to spend a lot of time on the ground educating them on the benefits of working with Shop Hubby.

Then this raises the issue of lacking manpower to do this on a larger scale. While KJ is grateful for their existing team structure, he’s aware that they’ll be needing more talents to join them before they can grow further.

The plan for the foreseeable future is to expand their operations across different states and customise different plans for each and every shop in different areas.

With that, each shop can maintain its competitiveness and relevance in the future, KJ believes.

Bottom Line: I can see Shop Hubby’s solution being popular with older shop owners who don’t quite believe in e-commerce yet. One thing that could make the experience of using the platform better for consumers would be having a rating/review system, so consumers don’t need to have both the app and Google open to check the rating. This could also instil more immediate confidence in the shoppers.

  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Shop Hubby

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