How to compete against the big boys


In today’s e-commerce article, the founder of shares how he competes against deep pocket competitors and keeps his team buzzing.

When FashionValet started we were relatively comfortable working in the e-commerce space simply because there was not much competition. However, now with big competitors like Zalora, soon-to-be-launched Rakuten and government encouraging people to bring their businesses online, it has become a very different landscape. Competition is always better for the consumer, but how do companies like FashionValet, which do not have a bottomless pit of marketing funds, compete with these international players? This is a question I always get asked when I promote the company.

My response is simple: Having huge competitors play in the same space only further validates that there is a huge opportunity available. So forget about getting bogged down by a brand that suddenly blankets the websites you visit with their ads. Instead, now is the time to show potential clients and investors what your website could be. If you are scared of competitors, you will always be behind them in the pack. Take it as a challenge and enjoy the ride.

There is also another serious problem arising when big competitors come about; the team gets worried and demotivated. It is one thing to push yourself to stand against the big boys, but your team might not be so optimistic.

The first thing to do is to share your enthusiasm with the rest of the team. I told my team that we might not have the money to spend like our competitors do, but that is great because they are getting people who have never shopped online to start doing that. They are actually growing the pie of online shoppers while we focus on taking a bigger bite of that pie! By leveraging on their weaknesses, we were able drive those customers to FashionValet which offers better customer service.

Working together is also important. Get the whole team involved in the journey and empower them so they know their contributions have an impact on the company. Our competitors might have hundreds of employees working for them, but for the ten people in FashionValet, I can say that I know each and every one of them on more than a professional level. This brings me on to me next point; keeping talent.

The best people always want to work for the best company. This does not translate into the best paying company. We are now in the age of Gen-Y and this group does not go for the best paying job or even the company with the best name. Gen-Y’s are looking for empowerment and happiness.

When it comes to happiness, at FashionValet, we practice a culture of being family-oriented. You don’t have to take them out for a company trip or give them a market-busting salary package to keep them happy. Spending quality time with them outside the office and treat them like they are your only friend and business partner. I’m not talking about taking them to a fancy restaurant for a wine and dine, but little things like having lunch at the roadside cendol stall will go a long way. My most satisfying part of running FashionValet is knowing my team looks forward to coming to the office the next day, and they are the reason I work harder everyday.


The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Photo credit: Flickr user CubaGaller

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