"We are building the Great Silk Road online"

Turat Bulembayev, founder of the Qoovee.com international trading platform for business and the Global Online Expo - world online exhibition, shared his vision for the development of the B2B e-trade market

How do you assess the dynamics of the B2B e-trade market in Kazakhstan and in the region as a whole?

- I think it has become obvious that the e-trade market is growing very dynamically both in Kazakhstan and in the region. The global situation due to COVID-19 lockdown accelerates the development of digital commerce.

In many ways, experts and observers see the growth of retails through the B2C-commerce in online mode. But the B2B (wholesale) e-trade market, which is growing very actively, is also getting lost of sight. This is also seen on our platform, which is focused on B2B. From year to year, we add an average of 1.5-2 times a year in terms of the number of platform participants and turnover and plan to significantly increase these indicators. B2B market players have noticeably increased confidence in online trading.

Which e-trade market is bigger in Kazakhstan and the CIS: B2C or B2B?

- According to our analysis, from 4 to 8 million people search for wholesale goods on the Internet every month in the CIS countries, including Kazakhstan. This is the data on goods only. But not less we can say as for the services.

If in B2C, you need to make 40,000 sales to reach a turnover of $1 million, with an average check of $ 25, then in B2B, several transactions can bring to $1 million turnover. In this regard, the B2B market has its advantages. According to open sources on the Internet, it is 3-5 times larger than B2C.

How did your platform appear and what issue does it solve?

- The main issue that our platform solves is to quickly find suppliers and customers in different countries, as well as to protect the transaction between the seller and the buyer.

Qoovee.com platform was established in 2016, just after the peak of offline trading in the wholesale markets of Central Asia and the CIS. I started to see a decline in physical trading in the B2B sector. Wholesalers no longer wanted to go 4-5 thousand km to other countries to the market for goods. They have increasingly started using a remote form of trading via messengers.

But messengers are not designed for full-fledged online trading, and in addition, often, to put it in slang, suppliers and buyers "threw" each other. I realized that the market is ready for a universal trading platform that connects the supplier and the customer from different countries and provides protection for all parties to the transaction. So, we launched Qoovee.com.

How can customers and suppliers be sure that the transaction will take place and the parties will not let each other down?

- It's simple. The platform acts as a guarantor of the deal. The customer is guaranteed timely delivery of goods of the quality agreed with the supplier. If the quality of the product or the shipment date differs from what the customer and supplier agreed in Qoovee, we will help in finding the best result for all parties or refund the customer.

The supplier is guaranteed 100% payment for the product. The supplier can be sure that they will receive their money in full as soon as the transaction is completed.  Qoovee also provides reliable logistics solutions to the transaction parties, having strong capacity in this area. We have a separate logistics service called Qoovee Logistics

What is the uniqueness and advantages of your platform compared to the world's giants?

- With all due respect to the e-trade giants from China and the United States, I can say they are not very interested in building trade bridges between third countries, such as between Kazakhstan and the rest of the world, or the CIS countries and Europe, or between Turkey, India and Russia, etc. They have their own markets and their own priorities.

We have a different philosophy. We want online commerce to flourish not only in the US or from China to the outside world, but also, for example, from the CIS to Europe or the middle East.

Now, for example, we are building a trade bridge online between India, Turkey and the CIS and internally between the CIS countries. As for the Middle East, we are actively present in the UAE and Turkey. Chinese merchants are also actively trading here. In other words, we do not interfere with anyone, on the contrary, we connect market players with each other and help them in scaling up. We give everyone equal opportunities.

How are you going to build such trade bridges? After all, it is not easy and very expensive.

- We understand that the construction of such trade bridges requires a lot of effort and investment, but in every country we receive support from government agencies and business communities. We help them in acting globally. So, we are not alone. In addition, we are confident in our abilities and know that interested partners with resources from the relevant regions of the world will find and are already finding us. We will build these bridges together with them, because the foundation is ready and it is quite strong. Plus, we are launching the Global Online Expo.

What is Global Online Expo?

- Global Online Expo is a worldwide B2B online exhibition where tens of thousands of companies from more than 100 countries present their products and services, opportunities and innovations. Suppliers and products are represented in 14 major industries. Online EXPO is held on the Qoovee.com trading platform. It will be an annual event. If your company is present at Qoovee, you will automatically become a participant of the Global Online Expo.

Who can participate in the Global Online Expo?

- Small, medium and large businesses from any country in the world that have something to show, something to promote not only in their own country, but also in the world. More than 26,000 suppliers are already represented at Global Online Expo, and their number is growing every day. State bodies can also participate in order to present their country and its capabilities. Global Online Expo is actively supported by government agencies and business communities of different countries. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Online Expo?

- It is very expensive for small, medium and large suppliers and buyers to participate in global offline exhibitions. For example, on average, cost estimates are about $5-6 thousand for one big exhibition, including flights and accommodation. 

Moreover, due to COVID-19, offline exhibitions were canceled at all, and there was no other choice but to promote them online. 

Global Online Expo is a very affordable and effective way to tell even small businesses about themselves to the world. We set no purpose to compete with offline exhibitions. We want to complement them and cooperate effectively. We can really bring a considerable number of participants to them. 

One of the disadvantages: at Global Online Expo, there is no physical opportunity to immediately touch the product, there is no live communication, which also affects the conclusion of the transaction. But you can send product samples by mail and communicate online by sending files.

Are you going to operate in the B2B direction only or are you planning to enter the B2C e-commerce market as well?

- Yes, we will go to B2C in our own non-standard way, and  with the aim to strengthen its B2B direction.

We are well-prepared to enter the B2C market. We have a huge stream of wholesale buyers and suppliers who deal with retails, too. 

As a result, we will have wholesale (B2B) in one hand, retails (B2C) in the other, and logistics and finance in the middle. I can safely say that we are successfully building the Great Silk Road online. And we are already leading caravans along this path.

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