Kapruka, the locally founded and globally established e-commerce platform, made headlines recently over the company listing on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), as the e-commerce platform made the announcement on its initial public offering (IPO) to raise Rs. 505.5 million.
Ahead of the upcoming IPO, The Morning Business had an exclusive interview with Kapruka Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dulith Herath on the ventures and global footprint as an e-commerce platform.
Speaking about the current status of the business, Herath stated: “During the last couple of years, we (Kapruka) are going over 100% Year-on-Year (YoY) because overall e-commerce has started to propel due to the lockdown and due to the limited products availability in the country.”
Due to social distancing measures such as islandwide lockdowns that came into effect with the Covid-19 pandemic, people in the country were left with a limited number of choices when it comes to retail shopping, especially groceries and essentials. As a result, consumers were pushed to consider online shopping.
“For example, everybody searches for something online, even unusual things such as a fork and a knife, as you normally do not purchase something trivial as a fork and a knife,” Herath said, explaining that this had been the bottomline behind the success of his business during the challenging times.
In terms of its global market establishment, Kapruka was able to partner with multinational e-commerce corporation giants in the global arena such as Amazon and eBay, which subsequently made an elephantine leap in both expanding Kapruka as well as enhancing the client experience.
“We partnered with Amazon and eBay to sell well-known Sri Lankan brands such as Dilmah, Nesta, and Link Samhan in the US market,” he said. Explaining how these domestic product brands have been evolved to the world through e-commerce, Herath said that, taking Dilmah as an example, when you go to Hilton Colombo or any other five-star hotel, you find Dilmah Tea in your room.
Accordingly, Herath added that the global expansion with Amazon and eBay not only enhanced the consumer experience, but also opened doors for domestic, export-quality products to be introduced to global consumption – to western markets.
“If they (tourists) like the tea from the hotel, they go searching for it on Amazon, and when they find it on Amazon, they buy through Kapruka as we (Kapruka) are the distributor in the US market for those brands,” said Herath.
Elaborating further, Herath expressed that brand owners in Sri Lanka who are looking to directly sell their products on Amazon have to go through a mechanism in setting up a reliable courier service in shipping the item/s, maintaining inventory, managing returns, refunding, etc.
“We do that part for them (brand owners). This is a great enabler for all Sri Lankan brands to easily propel into the western markets,” said Herath, adding that this contributed to giving sales opportunities to local brands to expand globally via an easy channel.
In terms of the “Kapruka Partner Central”, Herath said this new initiative also gives the market opportunity to local brand owners. On an earlier occasion, Herath told The Morning Business: “The platform is part of our long-term investment plan further to the IPO, with the central goal of optimising partner and customer experience, thereby elevating our ability to create value for all stakeholders alike. Partner Central, based on the leading Amazon’s ‘Fulfilment by Amazon’ (FBA) solution, has the potential to not only transform local businesses, but also to contribute towards securing the country’s economic status.”
When inquired about “Soldout.lk”, Herath stated that this was also a new project Kapruka looks forward to commencing, which will be a platform for used goods.
With Soldout.lk, Herath said that he had been able to identify the entrepreneurial opportunity of it, as there is limited access to the e-market in Sri Lanka, other than platforms such as Facebook or classified websites, through which once-used products that are no longer necessary or used but are in good condition can be sold online.
Speaking on the upcoming IPO, Herath said: “We are still waiting for one more approval from the CSE and it would come at any minute now.”
The tentative date for the IPO is 21 December 2021