Artikel NST mengenai Shahabudeen Jalil, usahawan yang mengasaskan Kursus Borong China dan lot.my.
Chinese connection in Web business
Shahabudeen Jalil tells ROZANA SANI how he has carved a niche in selling things online
WHILE his peers were busy pursuing their studies, Shahabudeen Jalil Kamarul Jaman took the unconventional leap to follow the call of entrepreneurship.
Only 19 then, the scholar of the prestigious Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Star had just completed his pre-university course in engineering, which was not really his cup of tea.
He had already dabbled in business on eBay, selling small quantities of clothing, sunglasses and sporting goods. So he decided to take his business to the next level.
“Like many young people at that age, I was selling stuff on eBay, mostly for fun and also for the extra cash. Most of the things I sold were sourced from Thailand. I then decided to look at China for inspiration and supplies,” says the now 28-year-old director of Anzac Consultancy, a company that trains entrepreneurs on how to source for products from China.
Through his conversations on the Net, he made friends with a young man in China named Sam Xiao Di. The Guangzhou-based Sam had the same interest and invited Shahabudeen to his hometown.
“I ended up spending one month there. Sam and I explored various wholesale markets and shopping centres in the area — from electronic appliances and audio equipment to jade and fashion.
“There are some places even the Chinese don’t know about as they cater solely to the export market. On that first trip, I bought RM7,500 worth of goods,” he says.
He also made a bulk sale to a regular e-Bay customer in Europe.
“The customer banked in the money to my father in Kuala Lumpur. My father then sent the money over to China and I shipped 20 pair of jeans to Europe.”
It was a modest start to what is now a thriving product procurement business.
|Participants of Kursus Memborong China on a recent trip to China|
“As I made more trips to China to scout for opportunities and buy goods, many people began to ask me how I did it. It was then that I decided to offer formal courses on how to purchase goods from China, wholesale. And this was launched through Kursus Memborong China (www.kursusborongchina.com) in 2008,” says Shahabudeen.
Through the programme, Shahabudeen taught over 1,000 participants the A to Zs of importing products from China — from getting the right visa, sourcing for cheap flight tickets and accommodation, basic communication skills, getting to the right wholesale market, to shipping the goods back.
Shahabudeen conducts lectures on the subject all over the country and makes trips to China at least twice a month with his clients.
“There are various ways of identifying your suppliers. First is through direct visits to respective wholesale shops. Second, through visits to trade shows held in major centres in China. And the third is through business-to-business portals such as alibaba.com, madeinchina.com and more,” he says.
“What’s important is that you do your research — find out out what’s hot and what’s not. This can be easily done by browsing through eBay and the likes — compare price, quality and then zoom in.”
Shahabudeen also advises those who are just starting, to start small.
“This is to help you focus. For example, on trips for first-timers, don’t bring more than RM5,000. Firstly, it’s probably your own money and not a loan, so you will be more prudent and careful when making purchases.
“Secondly, you only need products in small quantities to test the market,” he says.
For those who wish to import electronic gadgets from Shenzhen, Shahabudeen says it is important that the importer should have some technical knowledge.
“Importing from China is easy but customer service and sending gadgets back for repairs is something else. So selecting and knowing what you’re buying is crucial.”
As for the type of suppliers in China, Shahabudeen says there are trading houses for small purchases, distributors for larger purchases and manufacturers for bulk imports.
“With manufacturers, you can have your own brand on the products when orders run into hundreds.”
After going to China and importing products, many course participants were at their wit’s end as to where and how they should sell their goods. This was when Shahabudeen and his friends — mostly his school friends, decided to set up an online store portal to help them out.
Launched in January, http://www.lot.my allows people with no technical know-how, to set up an online shop at no cost.
“The aim of this endeavour is to provide Malaysians the opportunity to set up an online business. The cost factor has always been an inhibitor. You need at least RM2,000 to set up an online store. Apart from that, many people don’t know how to conduct an e-business. They also don’t have market knowledge. Lot.my helps to solve these problems,” says Shahabudeen.
The Web-based application allows users to select a design for their storefront, upload their product pictures and get payment through a provided mechanism. The application also helps users track customers and allows them to check what sells on their store.
“Lot.my is fast gaining interest and we’re conducting courses for people who want to learn about selling products online.”
And where does he go from here?
“Within two years, I hope those on Lot.my are not only able to sell to Malaysians but also value-add and sell their products abroad. I’m targeting the export market,” he reveals.
Shahabudeen knows the road ahead is not easy but with the work he’s putting in, he will probably get there — sooner than he thinks.