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Published on May 12, 2016
Kimstore.com has been a go-to store for gadgets having been established as an online seller of gadget goods at very affordable prices. For an online store, its strong following of tech-savvy customers have made Kimstore.com one of the few striving pioneers of e-commerce in the country.
Despite the growing e-commerce industry and the competition from regional online stores slowly taking foot in the Filipino market, Kimstore.com proves to be a leading local retailer when it comes to affordability for the latest gadgets around. And at only 27 years old, owner Kim Lato, whom the business is so aptly named, has been consistent in making it big as she takes her humble business from the streets of Tondo to the rest of the world.
A Marketing Management student back then at De La Salle University in Manila, Lato made good use of what she learned in school at an early age. Her first try at selling online was when she got into the idea of selling mobile phones and gadgets through the now defunct social sharing site Multiply. She was 18.
“It was during the peak usage of Multiply.com when I thought selling gadgets online would be a great idea,” Lato recalls. “Starting out eight years ago, I used my study room as the storage of all the products I would sell back then.”
Balancing both her academics and running an online business, Lato admits being challenged with the tasks but quickly made adjustments with proper time management. “There were times that I have to wake up at 3 in the morning to review and study and get only a few hours of sleep because I need to go to school again then deliver orders afterwards. I had to think of different ways to deliver on time because that's the promise I gave to the client.”
She fondly recalls that her first Kimstore.com employee was their family housemaid. Lato briefly narrates the time their housemaid would tag along with her during deliveries, helping her carry the products to be sold that day. “Plastic bags would be wrapped around her arms,” Lato said. “It seemed so simple, but it really was such a huge help.”
Despite her tender age, Lato has banked on technology’s advancements as her primary tool in establishing her business. “It was a good and untapped opportunity back then, and the selling channel was already provided. I’ve always had a strong interest in gadgets, so it was the most natural thing for me to go into this industry.”
Lato underscores the importance of establishing online presence to enhance brand awareness through the digital platform as well as highlighting how such tool is crucial for website optimization. “Social media can spread the word about a company's products and services, and help build brand awareness in a very unique and powerful way.”
Aside from credibility and reputation, she emphasizes that e-commerce is all about the convenience of online shopping. “Your reputation and credibility depends on the over-all shopping experience of your customers. These include a user-friendly online platform that your customers can easily access when they browse, wider selection of payment options that they can choose from, and the speed of order delivery.”
Selling products at an affordable price draws consumers to further trust her brand, she emphasizes Kimstore.com’s mission of providing consumers with high quality products at the best price.
“Kimstore.com stands out from other online businesses because we not only ensure high quality and original gadgets gets delivered but also through a hassle-free service,” Lato shares. “We now offer different modes of payment, shipping and delivery. This is our initiative to guarantee hassle-free, fast, and easy transactions.”
As an entrepreneur, Lato admits continuously improving and learning from her mistakes - picking up important skills and lessons along the way. “I have learned that exceptional customer service is the key to success,” Lato said.
Despite the growing popularity of online shopping, Lato recognizes how some Filipinos still have reservations when it comes to online transactions. She notes that once a customer has a good experience from doing online shopping, then they could potentially come back and make more purchases.
“People will recommend you if you have given them a happy and memorable shopping experience. Technology enables us to solve problems at a faster rate and get more informed responses from customers in real time. Word of honor in business is very important, so always keep in mind that being true to your promise such as the ones stated in your company’s terms and conditions and making your customers feel very important will set you apart from others,” Lato added.
Hailed as the Bozz for E-commerce during PLDT Smart SME Nation’s #BeTheBoss campaign last year, Lato joined 14 other finalists to an immersion program in Silicon Valley as part of their winnings. Lato shared how the Silicon Valley experience was truly an eye-opener. “The trip opened my eyes to new concepts and strategies. We also got a snapshot on how renowned companies operate and manage their resources, with an emphasis on human capital development. Not everybody is well-versed about the complex underlying system that it has.”
Through the experience, Lato firmed up her believe of always having room for growth. “You may be the best today but there will always be another disruptive idea that can challenge your organization. In order to achieve that, you and your company should work together to adapt to your customers’ ever-changing needs,” she shares.
Now approaching its almost 10 years of serving their online customers, her simple study room for storage is now a 4-storey building in Tondo that houses all aspects of Kimstore.com’s operations. And from the housemaid alone, she has designated people to handle work for marketing, selling, customer care, deliveries, and logistics.
Despite having started a successful career at such a young age, Lato’s advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs is to continuously work hard and finish their studies. “A good head start as a budding entrepreneur is always ideal,” Lato said. “But education is very important. Nothing beats earning your diploma. It can take you anywhere.”
As a pioneer of the e-commerce industry, Lato sets an example of what a reliable trusted e-commerce store should be. It is never solely about the profit gained; rather, it is about how a business continuously grows – having planted seeds of humble beginnings, forging a solid foundation, having the courage to take leaps and calculated risks, and patience to wait for the perfect time to bloom.