Email Interview #37: Pei Yu

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In the last interview, I have interviewed ex flight attendant who runs a successful internet shop selling maternity wear. In fact, anyone can start up an internet shop selling anything you want and as long as it satisfied a gap.

What is a gap?

A gap is an unfulfilled need of the customer. For example, stay at home parents have little time to do house chores and not having enough or trusted domestic helpers is a gap. And you can easily detect a gap when you belong to that specific group of customer and all you need to ask is what you are frustrated about. Which of your need is not met?

In this weekend post, I am thankful for this stay at home mom’s sharing. Her name is Pei Yu and she runs a successful internet business…Read on to find out how she does it and how you can too without the need to create your own products.

*Start of interview*

1. Share with my readers who you are

Hi everyone! I’m Pei Yu, currently a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) to my darling daughter who just turned 13 months. I’ve become a SAHM mainly because i need to take care of my daughter. I spent alot of time on the internet, especially now with the use of smartphones, I’m almost 24/7 online! I used to blog alot on my daily life, but after my daughter came into my life, my time mainly around her and I need to plan my time properly to juggle between my small online business and my family.

2. What business you are in and how does your customer contact you?

I’m mainly in baby and children accessories. My potential customers can find me in Singapore Motherhood Forum, where I put up my business there. From there they can reach me easily via email or private
message. Only recently, some of my customers added me into my facbook account, and they can now reach me via facebook too!

3. How does having a facebook account benefit your business?

By having a facebook, I’m able to “advertise” my new products which I’m going to order and to state all the necessary details on the products. Customers can easily view at them too, especially now with the use of smartphones, facebook is like with them all the time! So it’s not only convenience at my part, it’s also a very convenience online media for my customers 🙂

4. What motivates you to set up your own business?

Before I got married, I used to spree alot on Taiwan auction sites and US websites at other forums. This is where I learnt the whole process of logistics, from collating, ordering and to dispatching the goods. I really enjoyed doing this since i was still a student in the polytechnic. Although it may seems like a chore to others. Therefore when I’ve decided to become a SAHM, i joined their sprees and BP too. This is when i realised that i also can do something like this, and at the same time I could bring in new and unique products to my customers at a relatively more affordable pricing as compared to those that are sold in-stores. Secondly, it is the monetary benefit. Since I’m not a full time working mother, I would like to make abit for the family and myself. So i could help my husband on the expenses.

5. What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome it?

Storage is one of the problems I am facing now. I’m still staying with my mother-in-law’s and have yet to have my own house. Due to space constraints, I am unable to store my inventories in an organised manner. They are either piled at one corner of the room, or another corner in the hall. This is the reason why I only place my orders with my suppliers after consolidating my orders from my customers. This is known as pre-order sales. The disadvantage of this approach is the long turnaround time from my customers’ perspective. Ideally, I should have the stock ready before my customers place their orders.

Another challenge I always face is product and supplier diversity. Besides attracting new customers, I must also attract returning customers to sustain my business. Customers don’t buy the same products if I want them to return. I have to look for new products from other suppliers to offer to my returning customers. It takes a lot of my time searching through the internet for the right suppliers. Traditionally, importers like me have to meet the prospective suppliers in person, inspect their products, go through negotiations, before striking a deal. Meeting them in person minimise the chances of being a fraud victim, e.g. placing an order with a bogus supplier and the goods never arrive. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to make such business trips, thus could only place small orders which I could afford to lose.

However, that’s beside the point. The real challenge is the establishment of relationship. Doing this purely online, i.e. instant messaging and email, is much difficult than meeting them in person. It lacks the ‘human touch’ of a business relationship. This ‘human touch’ is essential if you wish for a smooth supply-chain process and quality assurance. More than half of the times, I encountered delayed deliveries that resulted in my customers cancelling their orders, or receiving defective products upon arrival. To make my situation worse, the suppliers are unwilling to compensate my losses caused by delayed deliveries, or make it very difficult to refund or exchange defective goods. If this ‘human touch’ is present in our business relationship, the likelihood of such issues may be minimised to the lowest.

6. How do you juggle your time between managing your business and spending time with your family?

I usually reply my emails to customers when my girl is having her nap. In the evening, my husband will help out by looking after her while I attend to my emails. Other than that, I would usually wait till she sleeps for the night before I work on my computer 🙂

Most of my customers may discover that my replies to them over the weekends are made through my iPhone. My husband and i always make it a point to have at least a day out together during the weekends, and to bring my girl out to play! Hence, my iPhone is my best business companion while I’m mobile, as it helps me get hooked up onto the internet using 3G network and respond to my customers.

7. Any other final thing you would love to share with my subscribers?

Sometimes, I have other mothers who told me that they admire my capability of being able to maintain my own online business while taking care of my girl. I’m very sure you have hear of this very common Chinese phrase which literally means “Nothing is difficult in this world for he sets his mind on it”.

*End of interview*

Related post:
5 Easy Innovative Ideas to Increase Profit for Your Online Business


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