Chinthaka’s WishQue goes places | Sunday Observer

Chinthaka’s WishQue goes places

By Kishani Samaraweera
By Kishani Samaraweera

The e-commerce shopping cart is what people use for shopping these days, given their tight and busy schedules. The concept of e-commerce provides the opportunity for customers to have access to products and services 24 hours a day. The only thing you have to do is to visit the website, select a product and add it to your shopping cart and pay. The product will be delivered to the given address, on time. Isn’t that easy?

E-commerce also gives a good exposure to businesses by reaching out to potential customers.

Another reason for e-commerce sites to be popular is because they are user-friendly. The customer is given the chance to provide feedback with regard to the product or services received, which indirectly helps the owner to improve his business in the long run. Therefore, e- commerce development is considered highly important given its competitive nature.

Chinthaka Jayasekara, is a young businessman based in Australia and the owner of WishQue - a leading e-commerce platform in that country. During his short visit to Sri Lanka recently, Youth Observer had a chat with him.

Chinthaka aims to provide nothing but the best premium service to his customers. WishQues started seven years ago. Chinthaka shared his experiences - the ups and downs he faced when building his business.:

What made you interested in this area? Was this always your plan?

I was always interested in business. Tailing from a business family, I think it might not be that surprising. But I always liked and got involved with a genuine intention of doing something similar. I started off right after A/Ls. I have specialised in IT with an Honours Degree. Later, I flew to Australia and started working there as a partner in a company.

How difficult was it to approach people with your ideas for a business of this nature?

When exploring I wanted to introduce something new, since I was exposed to different technologies used in other parts of the world. I saw a big gap in the service sector in Sri Lanka. Especially in mobile technologies. However, my suggestions to build something like that did not materialise since no one was willing to support me. I still have no idea as to why it did not happen.

One of the ideas was to build an application based on location, to provide users with restaurants, places to visit in the given area and also to accommodate bookings for restaurants. But it did not happen as the majority of restaurants in Sri Lanka were not ready to accept a fully automated system.

My target was to give restaurateurs a platform to go to the next level - give them a chance to give a better service to their customers. But they were not willing to grab the opportunity and to make technology a part of their business to reach a wider audience. They were stuck in the traditional method of ‘getting a call and deliver’ mindset. If the people you want to help are not interested, then there is no point in investing a huge amount of money on a venture, no matter how good the idea is.

Why exactly did you choose e-commerce?

Well, whenever I wanted to send someone a gift, I faced a lot of trouble when trying to find a good service provider. None of the websites were user friendly, and they were very basic. I was not happy with their services. I only got an update about the gift I had sent maybe after a day. This should not be the case. The customer should be notified of the status of delivery of the goods ordered the moment they are dispatched and also when received at the other end. I realised that something was really wrong and also that companies in Sri Lanka were a bit reluctant to invest in a good e-commerce system.

As a system had to be developed to fill the gap, I realised that if I did so, it will definitely be a success, and it has.

How was the system developed? What were your main concerns when bringing it to this level?

When developing the system we focused more on filling the service sector gap and that is when WishQue came in to the market. We developed the system from scratch since we had to tackle all the difficulties faced by the customers. We researched many e-commerce platforms around the world.

However it is fascinating to note that in Sri Lanka everything happens in a different way. We cannot predict traffic, we cannot define delivery charges based on postcode District. None of the vendors were actually concerned about it. These are some of the issues we identified while we were developing our system for WishQue. None of the systems are doing perishable items delivery mechanisms. That is when we realised that the system we design will have to be completely new and developed to compete with similar systems of other countries. The target was to give everyone the chance to make use of such a service, a common platform. And when doing so we try our best to use the best technology.

What makes WishQue different to that of other e-commerce platforms ?

We developed a system which can be tracked real time. Products can be viewed on a smart phone. The customer gets an SMS when the goods are delivered. I focussed on quality and customer care. Because in Sri Lanka customer care is more or less non existent, which is quite bad. For example when a customer pays for certain goods, it must be delivered as promised. You cannot come up with excuses. If something goes wrong then the customer should be refunded or some kind of compensation should be available.

It was really difficult when I started training my staff in customer service. Things can go wrong, goods can get damaged but you should know how to communicate with your customer if something like that has happened. There is no need to argue or get in to unnecessary issues. That is very important.

I enabled call recording so that I know exactly when something goes wrong with a delivery. I got a trainer from overseas to make my staff understand the proper way to operate and make sure they follow the process.

In your opinion how has the industry changed over the years? Do you see a positive change?

Actually the industry has changed in a very positive way. WishQue (Pvt) Ltd was started two years ago and the investment was a huge one. No one expected it to develop to the level which it has reached only in two years time with such advanced technology. The competition among the service providers ultimately benefits the customer. Whenever a new player comes to the market then the others know that they have to upgrade their services to keep the business going.

What areas do you feel need to be handled carefully?

Gift delivery is one of the areas which needs to be handled with great care. The slightest mistake, will cost your company more than money can compensate. Therefore, I always make sure that my staff perfectly understands and know how such a situation has to be handled. We also have a 24-hour reply policy. Any complaint has to be closed within a day.

How would you advise someone who shares a passion like yours? What should that person be concerned about?

My opinion is that there are so many options. As long as you have a good business idea and it has business potential, then stay focused and do not give up.

You need to be dedicated to your work and passionate about it. The willingness to work long hours is also something one should be ready to do.

You may fail. Not all businesses are successful. Do not get disheartened. If you try again you will definitely succeed. For me every day is a new day, I learn new things, how to tackle problems. I have grown from almost every experience. This is me.

Do you feel that the support given to those who are interested in the area of e-commerc, is enough?

I genuinely do not think the Government or any regulatory body is interested in doing anything to help start-up businesses. In other countries a lot of support is given to their citizens. I seriously have no idea as to how and what kind of help is available here for new business ventures. Because of that, many people are migrating or completely give up on the idea of starting a new business.

If there is potential, there should be support, encouragement and financial help for people to start new ventures. Our system does not actually provide any of the above, which is sad. But let us hope that some support will be given in future for people who are interested in business or related fields.

What are your interests other than business?

I like to learn different, new things. In my free time I also tend to think of new opportunities. I think that is how my brain works. I am constantly looking for new ideas and concepts to develop further. I do travel as well.

What would be your next step, future plans?

I want to grow this business further. We will probably move to the restaurant sector and new start-ups as well. However, for the time being we are at research level. The plan is to develop a centralised platform for e-commerce. I hope that we will get the Government’s help to reach that milestone.

Also we welcome feedback from our customers. Please feel free to give us your feedback for us to grow and give you a better service.

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