Hailing from the Javanese city of Cirebon, Febri’s ambition to give back to his community and preserve the identity of his hometown led him to setting up his own shop Seni Rattan. Read more about his journey in eCommerce.
How old were you when you joined Lazada as a seller and what made you want to become one?
I was 21 years old when I was in my final semester of college. At that time, I had an internship at Lazada, under the IT section with the Seller Center team. After my internship program ended, I decided to open my own online shop at Lazada. It was while running my offline store that I started considering becoming an online seller. I saw many benefits to joining the marketplace, and also saw an opportunity to bring my rattan craft to a wider market. I could see trends in the development of rattan craft and I also wanted to empower more local rattan craftsmen in Cirebon. Additionally, I believe Lazada is a marketplace that has a diverse target audience that fits the type of product I have.
Have you ever had experience selling before going online to do it? If you came from brick and mortar, what surprised you the most about selling online?
I first sold hampers during the holidays, which I made from rattan. Back then, I only sold products that were made by order. It was only after I finally decided to fully focus on selling rattan crafts that I began creating home furniture. I would use two types of rattan: natural rattan and synthetic rattan.
Initially, when I focused on home furniture, Seni Rattan produced small household items such as kitchen accessories and small containers. Previously, Seni Rattan sold their products via stores in the city of Cirebon, and its main customers were the local residents in the area. This changed when Seni Rattan expanded and began to sell online in 2017. I was initially hesitant to sell Seni Rattan products, because I had doubts about handling the shipping and logistics. This is because all the products that Seni Rattan produces are fragile items that are difficult to pack and ship. However, over time, more and more logistics systems became capable of delivering and handling products of that nature, including ones much larger in size such as cabinets and drawers. Eventually, this marketplace opened up many new opportunities and the logistics system was also able to deliver Seni Rattan products, making shipping safe and possible. What was even more surprising is that the marketplace offers many payment options for consumers, so consumers can choose the type of payment that suits their payment mode, thus creating greater accessibility for consumers to continue shopping online. Safety, speed and accuracy are also what Lazada always provides.
Did you leave a job to open your own business? If yes, what motivated you to take that step?
Born and raised in Cirebon, I felt a strong sense of social responsibility to empower and digitize my society through community empowerment. Cirebon is known as a “Kampong Rattan” (Rattan Village) and while many of the youth there are not really concerned about the identity of the city, I really want to preserve rattan and maintain the identity of Cirebon City as “Kampong Rattan”. I also want to help local residents by increasing their income and giving them stronger buying power.
What made you decide to sell in your current category?
I saw a lot of opportunities for Seni Rattan to grow. In addition to the potential of Cirebon with its rattan crafts, I believe that I can successfully compete in the Furniture or Home & Decoration category against my business competitors.
What is the most fulfilling part of being an eCommerce seller now?
I find fulfillment in seeing the growth of my employees and communities through our collaboration. I also enjoy that I am able to share the success of Seni Rattan with my community, and this success has improved their quality of life.
What are some of the most challenging parts of being your own boss?
I realised that being an online seller is different from working as an employee. There are no organizational layers, with several steps of discussion. Currently I have the freedom to express myself in creating the products that I want to sell based on my customers’ needs. Without the difficulty of communicating through many layers of an organization, I am able to create and express what he wants. However, what gets tricky is when I have to make decisions. Since I am the boss of my own business, all the responsibility is on me, including the risk of failure.
Do you have advice for anyone who might want to be their own boss?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Put all your hard work and effort wholeheartedly into doing your own business. If you believe in yourself, you can make it because being your own boss, every decision will be in your hands. Do your research, whether you want to be in the red ocean or blue ocean. If you have decided to choose the red ocean, then you need to be ready to handle very tight competition. And don’t forget to give your full attention to the business since being your own boss, you need to focus fully on your business.
What are your three top tips for anyone who wants to succeed in selling online?
- Product Knowledge, we need to know the value of the products we sell so that consumers can attain more value from the products that we sell.
- Be ready to leave your comfort zone because if you stay in the same pond for a long time, you’ll be an expert in that pond without knowing what is really happening in other ponds.
- Do the research and conduct business analysis. You need to analyze your business, your workflow system, even the trends in your market. If you don’t know how to analyze your business, it will lead you to the wrong decision and direction.
Look out for more insights in the latest ‘Be Your Own Boss’ series, where Lazada profiles its inspiring and successful young sellers within the ASEAN region who decided to become their own boss. Stay tuned for more amazing seller B.Y.O.B stories! #BYOB