Otoparts Mall: a local e-commerce platform that aims at diverting cross-border spenders into the country

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This article was first published on January 19, 2019 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 21

Waqiuddin Rajak
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Wouldn’t it be nifty if you could just buy your spare-parts a click away from your devices?

Especially if you are a “Do It Yourself” kind of person, you might just want to get your oil filters, window motors, clutch discs and brake pads on your own and install it at your free time.

In the past, you might have to find them lying around shops somewhere in the country, or even across the borders – but afraid not, now you can almost find everything you need via Otopart Mall.

Otopart Mall is the latest local e-commerce site to make waves around town, and unlike any others that sprouted within these several years, the platform covers a specific niche and is currently the only avenue that offer such services in this region.

While it is only about a year old, Otopart Mall has already garnered about 1,200 subscribers – with 200 of them registering at the ongoing Consumer Fair at the International Convention Centre (ICC).

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Its Manager Dave Tan told The Bruneian that opening up the site was not an easy decision. Prior to its establishment last year, Dave and his team had to conduct a thorough survey to see if there is a demand for such service to be set in Brunei.

“We began conducting surveys around the last quarter of 2017. Prior to the study, we were notified that a large portion of Bruneians would usually cross the borders, either to go to Limbang or Miri just to get their spare-parts,” he said.

“But crossing the borders mean they would have to spend more time to find their parts; adding to that, they would also have to spend for fuel just to find the right ones,”

“And depending on the urgency of those parts, it may also be inconvenient for them if they had to go out of their working hours just to tend the matter,” he added.

With such premise, Dave and his team then conducted the market study but what they had found was even better.

“While those concerns are valid, we also found that there hasn’t been any e-commerce platform that offers this niche, at least in Asia,” he said.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

While there are sites that post catalogues of their products, Dave explained that a proper e-commerce platform should be something that also allows customers to purchase goods without visiting physical shops.

Adding to that, he said a good online shopping sites should also give customers the option to have their goods delivered to them right at their doors.

“And this is what we strive to do,” he said.

“First and foremost, we understand that one reason why Bruneians go to the borders was because spare-parts there are cheaper – and to address this, we are setting our prices about 10 to 20 percent cheaper than such market just to divert them away from spending across the borders,”

“Secondly, we added a delivery service on our site and made sure that all goods are delivered to customers within a maximum period of three days; which means customers doesn’t have to spend more time to fetch their goods,” he added.

Despite online shopping trends continuing to grow, Dave also understood that there is still a segment of the market that still prefer buying goods at physical shops because they wanted to really assure goods, they bought are truly compatible with their cars.

“For this market segment, we have introduced a policy where they are able to return their goods 14 days after receiving them,” he said.

“Previously, we did encounter cases where customers happen to buy the wrong parts for their cars. What we did was ask the customers to return their purchase and we replace them with the right ones,”

“We are also accepting their car parts every day, because we want to make sure that everything is convenient for them,” he added.

Despite being young, Dave said Otopart Mall does have the ambition of catering to a wider market, not just to The Bruneians.

“The beauty about setting up an e-commerce platform is that you are not just limited to (geographical factors) when it comes to targeting the market,” he said.

“As we grow, we might want to cater to markets across the borders but since we’ve just started, we are focusing on this country first,”

“Currently, we are looking to expand our product range. We have secured partnerships with some local auto-part dealers that distribute lubricants and batteries, but we have yet to partner with car dealers,” he added.

On top of that, Otoparts Mall also wants to improve its product details to make it more convenient for clients to decide whether the parts sold are suitable for their cars or not.

“It might be a long way but we will slowly improve our services. We hope we can really help Bruneians to have more convenience when buying spare-parts for their cars,” Dave said.

The Bruneian