Published in the Bangkok Post on 19th August 2011
OfficeMate Plc (OFM) was established in 1994 by the Ounjai family, which had 40 years in stationery and office equipment distribution, and listed on the Market for Alternative Investment on July 28 last year. Over the years, the company has expanded from stationery and equipment distribution through catalogue sales and through a call centre, and today derives substantial revenues from online and e-procurement services to some 5,000 government and private-sector clients. Managing director Worawoot Ounjai discusses the company’s strategy and outlook.
Please explain OFM’s business model.
OfficeMate is an online business supplying corporate customers and individual customers with a range of products from office equipment to daily-use items through our B2B website at www.officemate.co.th and lifestyle products via B2C website via www.trendyday.com. We have been in the business of supplying office equipment for the past 16 years, initially starting as a catalogue business, which we still send out today, before expanding to the online market. We do not have any outlets or showrooms, and because of our efficient logistics systems providing next-day deliveries, we aim to be the No. 1 online retailer in Thailand.
What is the difference between the two online portals that OFM has?
www.officemate.co.th is targeted toward corporate members and we have a database of nearly 400,000 corporate members of which 80,000 are active users. At Officemate.co.th all items are related to office use i.e. computer supplies, writing products, stationery, filing systems, ink, business machines, office furniture and so on. For Trendyday.com the items that users can purchase are more for daily and personal use that range from gifts to fashion to electronics to housewares.
How does OFM market both its portals?
For both portals we do internet marketing via Google and Facebook to expand our member base. For officemate.co.th we have 40 sales representatives who visit our current and potential corporate customers, sending them catalogues, as well as demonstrating how to use the online portal. For trendyday.com, when we first launched it 12 months ago, we held a concert at CentralWorld to help promote the website to a younger audience.
Why should a corporation buy via officemate.co.th instead of going directly to a retail store?
Our e-procurement service allows owners of businesses or heads of IT departments to know exactly how much was spent on office supplies, IT equipment, printers, ink and so forth. It allows them to manage their expenses far better including cost control.
Does OFM offer return policies?
Absolutely, we have a seven-day return policy for any purchases made by our members and even if the issue is something simple.
What differentiates OFM from its competitors?
Our logistics system and usability of the online portals are what set us apart from our competitors. We offer next-day delivery for both online and offline customers in Bangkok and surrounding areas (Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, and Nakhon Pathom) and some suburban districts of provinces: Chon Buri, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Rayong, Prachin Buri, Saraburi) and we are accurate with our deliveries. We have our own fleet of delivery trucks in Bangkok and surrounding areas and outsource some services to ensure that delivery is fast and accurate. For payment options we allow cash on delivery, credit card, PayPal, Paysbuy, and mobile EDC. Also both our portals are interactive, providing instant 24/7 online chat support, and finally we have more than 200 agents in our call centre to answer any questions that users may have.
What issues does the online market face in Thailand?
Thai clients still prefer to talk directly with a sales representative and see the product before buying, so we have to facilitate that by providing cash-on-delivery payment options and having our sales representatives constantly visit our clients. Also a lot of users are worried about security and viruses, but in the end it is about us educating them about the safety and ease of use of online shopping. Eventually, we expect online purchasing to grow tremendously in Thailand.
Can you give a breakdown on the revenue of both portals?
Officemate.co.th represents close to 90% of total revenue. We expect this to decrease as trendyday.com becomes more popular.
What are the biggest risks facing your business today?
Politics is the main business risk as it makes customers feel uncertain and insecure. It also hampers our expansion plans, but we are hopeful that the political issues in Thailand have been resolved.
Where do you expect to see OFM five years from now?
Our aim is to grow annually by 20% per year in terms of revenue. This can be achieved by expanding our user base at officemate.co.th and promoting trendyday.com further. However, our sales growth is forecast at 25% in 2011.