Rachel Ang founder of Books n Bobs, a secondhand online bookstore. Today, she has 2 physical bookstores, which I 100% recommend you pay a visit.

Rachel will be speaking at Underdog E-Commerce Con on 21st March 2024 – a marketing conference that brings 200+ of the fastest-growing marketers and businesses to learn, network, and do business.

When I first walked into her store at Taman Desa, I was surprised.

It was a self-service store. There's no one around. The systems in place weren't sophisticated and were based on mostly trust. Customers would browse books, pick what they like, and then scan a QR code to pay for their books.

Sure, there were theft cases. Just 2 weeks ago, a guy had the audacity to help himself to a cup of coffee before leaving with a bag full of books.

#NSTviral: Self-checkout bookstore ‘Books n Bobs’ falls victim to brazen theft | New Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR: The self-service bookstore “Books n Bobs” in Taman Desa became the target of a brazen theft earlier today.

In our interview, Rachel shared her experience of starting Books n Bobs, going from RM200 in seed money to generating over RM600k in yearly revenue. What started out as a way to make some pocket money became her full-time business.

The lesson? Just get started. You'll discover along the way.

Here are 5 more lessons from the interview.

Rachel's story made me realize that business and marketing, at its core – is simple.

Find a problem, create a solution for it. Charge money for the solution.

Start with your customers

Rachel started selling books manually. She didn't have a website or a Facebook page. She bought a few used books and posted them in book groups on Facebook. Interested people would drop her messages and she would deal with all customers manually.

She continued to do that untill there were too many messages to handle. Only then, she built a website to automate the process.

Your customers don't want more software or a website. They want solutions.

Don't be a wantrepreneur. A wantrepreneur spend months visualizing and perfecting a website, instead of doing the real work of finding customers.

Useful for you, or others?

Rachel started her online secondhand bookstore near the right time – during the COVID lockdown. People were staying at home and had time, so they read more books and bought them online!

However, as the lockdown began to ease and people started going out, Rachel noticed her customers were craving physical experiences again.

This brought Rachel to expand into physical stores. It allowed her customers to touch, feel, and browse books in person. Having physical stores was useful for her customers.

Figure out your customer's LTV

LTV stands for lifetime value. Figure out how much your typical customer would spend over a year or more. This will help you figure out how much you can (and should) spend to acquire a customer.

Running ads on Facebook and Instagram is one of the main ways Rachel acquire her customers.

But even with rising ad costs and the low margins of used books, Rachel continues to spend on ads because she knows her typical customer doesn't just buy a book or two. They would often return to buy more books.

Once you identify your customer's LTV and customer acquisition cost (CAC) – marketing is simply numbers.

There's so much competition, what do I do?

When there's competition, it means there is demand.

With Books n Bobs, Rachel is literally in competition with every other store selling books! But that's a good thing.

The question to ask is how do you create more loyalty and deeper relationships with your core customers? What makes them come to you, instead of the others? What makes them refer people to your business?

Rachel maintains a deep relationship with her core customers by creating new experiences for them. She hosts book review meet-ups and events, where she brings in key hosts and invites her customers.

Go where your customers are

Don't ask what's the best social media platform. Ask, where are my customers hanging out.

Rachel started marketing on Facebook groups because that's where her ideal customers hangs out at. Once she found something that worked, she doubled down on it.

Marketing is simple.

Figure out where your customers are and make them an offer they can't refuse. For Rachel, her customers love her because they can find rare book titles through Books n Bobs.

Want to learn more?

Meet Rachel in person and listen to her sharing a deeper case study of how she marketed her secondhand book business in the current competitive market at Underdog E-Commerce Con this 21st March 2024.

All attendees get full access to the conference – recordings of all talks, including bonus content in our online community.

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