By Hiyal Biyagamage
Ikman.lk launched the first free classified website, empowering Sri Lankans to buy or sell online. The website offers a wide-range of products from mobile phones and cars to land including many other items, in all major cities across Sri Lanka.
'Ikman.lk classifieds' is the company's first product to be launched in Sri Lanka. With nearly three million Internet users in the country, Ikman.lk moves into the market with the simple aim of providing a dependable website for buyers and sellers to cooperate. The site can be best defined as an easy-to-use, free classified website where you can buy and sell a plethora of items.
The website replicates the company tenet of providing a modest, safe and fast buying-selling experience to consumers. With a greater vision of forcing online trading of second-hand items, Ikman.lk hopes it will provide the ideal platform for private persons, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises to place themselves on the online market.
In a recent interview with Ceylon FT, Ikman.lk Marketing Manager Khaushali Jayasuriya shared her ideas about the website and its future improvements. Ikman.lk Head of Marketing Babak Tighnavard also spoke about the company's thinking behind reaching into locals.
Q: What is Ikman.lk and how does it work?
A: Ikman.lk is a free classified website. Whoever wants to sell something goes on to the website. Within maximum of 10 minutes, depending on the description you want to add, you fill up your description, upload your photo and post your ad on our website.
Q: What was the idea behind implementing a classified site like Ikman.lk?
A: In many countries, especially in Europe, classified websites are very popular among people. This region is developing with many business opportunities. In Sri Lanka, there are no big online classifieds. So that was the general idea.
Q: You have entered the market with nearly 3 million internet users surfing over the network. What is your strategy in reaching them with your easy-to-use, free classified website?
A: Now we are going with mass media. Now everybody in Sri Lanka knows about Ikman.lk. In the next couple of weeks, we will be targeting them very specifically. There will be more advertisements in online media too.
Q: How quick can a person post an advertisement in the website?
A: It will be four minutes in minimum and 10 minutes maximum. As I said earlier, it will depend on your description and how much you want to write.
Q: How does Ikman.lk create that unique bond between the buyer and the seller?
A: We have a local-based review team here. They are like our support team. We do have a support email and any question will be answered instantly. That is how we communicate right now.
People can also communicate through our Facebook page. I personally manage it. If there is any question posted in our page, it will be immediately answered.
Internet penetration in the country is getting high and there are enhanced business opportunities. How has Ikman.lk planned to grow with these future improvements in the country?
A: At the moment, we have business advertisements as well. Businesses can come to us and they can advertise about their business. In the near future, we are going to put commercials in our website. By means of commercials, we are going to earn some revenue. That would be how it goes.
Q: As initiated by you, many firms would have now fixed their minds on starting a free classified website. If so, how are you going to strengthen your position in the market?
A: Well, there is room for everybody. If you take the European countries, there are many classified websites, not just one. Take India for instance; they have a huge competition between classifieds. Ikman.lk is ready to face competition (laughs).
Q: What was the strategy behind launching a mobile site for Ikman.lk?
A: Mobile internet usage in Sri Lanka is very high and it will grow with the years to come. Even from my personnel experience, I feel people use internet more with their mobiles. We want to make sure that everybody could access our website.
Q: In a business environment where classified ads are running through the Worldwide Web, how important are other social media sites?
A: They are very important. In the new age of communication, it is an important way of getting word of mouth. A company should have a good social media strategy to cope up with the business opportunities.
On my asking Tighnavard about the potential of Ikman.lk reaching into the global market, he said first you should concentrate on the local context.
"The idea with classifieds is that you buy and sell from your neighbour. So the first thing you would do when you visit the website is that you select the nearest place to buy whatever you want. Say that you are going to buy a car. If you live near Colombo, you would most probably select a place near Colombo. You would not seek a car from Jaffna. If you want to buy a Honda, you will see all the Hondas near your area and you will buy it from your neighbour. There are so many global e-Commerce sites, but we are much focused on a local context. The more local we go, the better it is", said Tighnavard.