Shakir Ali, The eMerchant: Turn-key solutions in the online marketing space
YourStory recently caught up with entrepreneur Shakir Ali to learn more about his business idea, The eMerchant, a venture in the booming online marketing space. Here are the excerpts from that chat:Shakir, can you introduce to us the business idea behind The eMerchant?
The eMerchant is an interface in the domain of internet marketing, which has turnkey solutions to its clientele towards online marketing. We are foraying in to value-added services category in the space of Internet marketing, to provide our customers EDGE solutions. Initially, clients come to us for page ranking and other such services. But eventually, they turn to us for lead generation, which creates the basis for their online presence.
How is The eMerchant different from other online marketing firms?
The focus has always been on providing the quality services to the clientele. Since inception, our USP has always been about quick turn-around time with the quality service and hassle-free customer relationship processes. We have only one mantra and that is affordability. We look at the budget provisions of our client and try to provide them with the optimum solutions within that budget.
How did the idea for The eMerchant come about? How much capital was required to implement the idea?
The blessing in disguise was my earlier association with the export houses in the Delhi market, where I identified a huge scope for volume trading across barriers. Eventually, my background in IT systems drove me to think up an interface to project these companies. The capital requirement at the start of this venture was around Rs.3 lakhs in the initial phase which was self-funded.
Is there acceptance for your concept? Are you looking at global reach?We have built distribution channels for our services in a number of countries. We have a presence in USA, UK, South Asia, UAE and Australia. We offer many of our turnkey solutions to growing companies from the above mentioned countries. 70% of our clients are from USA, followed by 10% from India and Australia and the other 10% comes from UAE & South Asian countries.
Where do you see the online marketing space in India and The eMerchant five years from now?
In the near future, online marketing companies are estimated to grow in leaps and bounds. Amongst the varied marketing activities in the Internet Space, SEO has gone on to hold the major portion of the services market when compared to other online space options. Several online marketing companies have set foot in India now where they see a lot of potential in the market. From shopping to education to socializing and to even marriage proposals everything is now online. This significantly states the importance that the online marketing companies established here will receive.
What is The e-Merchant’s revenue model?
We work on a SaaS model, where once a customer signs up with us, that customer will be a part of our growth cycle for next 6 months of time. This is how we have slowly built The eMerchant into a robust system, where we keep our focus on quality service to our clients. We’ve noticed that focus on quality takes care of the rest of chain. After all, a happy customer will not have any problems in supporting your growth.
What are the challenges that you faced while developing your solutions? How did you overcome those challenges?
The major hurdle has been the office space. Initially, the office was at a remote location and was a one-room office, which didn’t encourage good talent to join us and consider The eMerchant as an employer.
The other challenge has been in getting skilled people. This is primarily because there are no certified courses available for this domain and so, we’ve had to identify people with logical analysis abilities and we have had to train them to suit our needs. This has taken away a considerable amount of time.
How big is the team behind The eMerchant? Are you looking at hiring?
Currently, the team size is around 25. A majority of them are working on internet marketing campaigns and few of them are in tech support systems. Most of our human resources are undergraduates. However, they are well-trained and can get stuff done. We are preparing to hire some good resources in the third and fourth quarter this year.
Let us know about your expansion plans.
We are evaluating the various potential markets in the African region. Korean markets also look promising. And of course, there’s the booming domestic market.
Very recently, we have hired the services of a Hyderabad-based business consulting firm called SPEQUA Consulting to assist us in our growth plans and execution strategies.
We at YourStory wish Shakir much success with The eMerchant. To know more about this Hyderabad-based venture, check outhttp://www.the-emerchant.com/. Also, share with us your views on this story by writing to us at email@example.com.