Drillrig Equipment and Accessories is a microbusiness. Since the company was established in 1993 by Banhock Tan, this Singapore-based business has evolved into an international reseller with an annual revenue of more than $1 million US. Its footprint covers Southeast Asia and extends into the Middle East, and has even received inquiries from as far as Latin America.
Drillrig sells machinery and spare parts to both other resellers and end users. If a customer were to search for machinery products on Google, 40% of results would direct to Alibaba.com. Tan noticed this seven years ago and decided to advertise his products with this e-commerce platform. Tan focuses the majority of his time on Alibaba.com as other channels simply do not have the same impact on revenue.
Tan is very vocal about this company’s growth due to its presence on Alibaba.com, especially during the current global pandemic. “Only 10-20% of our revenue came from Alibaba.com prior to Covid-19. Now it has doubled to more than 30-40%.” He was a regular trade show attendee before the outbreak but he has since decided to fully focus on running the business on Alibaba.com. “Demand has shifted to e-commerce given the situation, and I believe this will be the inevitable trend for the future.”
Drillrig’s success cannot be attributed to the e-commerce platform alone. His rich experience and knowledge of machinery also sets him apart from other suppliers on Alibaba.com. Oftentimes, customers lack model numbers or information of the product they are sourcing, making it difficult for suppliers to provide the right solution. Tan distinctly remembers a Malaysian customer who sent pictures of a machine he was searching for via the phone, but was unable to provide further details. Tan was able to accurate identify the machine and procure it for his customer.
However, possessing technical expertise is not enough. Customer centricity has served as Tan’s; guiding principle over the years. One way he practices this principle is quick response time to customer messages. “It is always important to respond to inquiries in time, even if it is just a quick note like ‘Thanks for your inquiry, I will get back to you in XX hours when I’m back at the office.’ Customers feel taken care of, which benefits your business relationship in the end.”
Obtaining and maintaining trust is also crucial to ustained growth of Drillrig. The Gold Supplier tag featured on Tan’s Alibaba.com page indicates his paid membership on the platform. “You earn credibility very quickly with experienced buyers this way.” He also builds trust by demonstrating his willingness to take losses for the customer. Due to an earthquake that struck Indonesia at the end of 2018, Tan was forced to postpone shipping of products to a client for more than three months. Tan had offered to split the costs 50-50 with the client, but the client insisted on paying the invoice in full because of their complete trust in him.
Since Tan was running a two-man operation, he was personally responsible for managing the account on Alibaba.com. Thanks to the comprehensive training that is available and the level of effort Tan invested nto self-studying, he was able to quickly learn the ins-and-outs of the platform. Soon after joining Alibaba.com, he could manage postings and respond to customer inquiries in an efficient manner. You can also consider following Tan’s example in putting the customer first. Even if you cannot answer their questions immediately, acknowledging their message and committing to a response shows you prioritize and value customer service. This is key to establishing sustainable relationships and encouraging return business.