During the sleepy days of winter, local businesses can struggle for much needed foot traffic.
Entrepreneur Richard Spencer has a solution for that — his new online marketplace Amazuda.bm.
The 29-year-old launched the website three weeks ago as a platform for local businesses to sell their wares.
“They will have their products seen by more people than they normally would,” he said. “The website might get 500 to 1,000 views a day.”
It’s free for vendors to use Amazuda; Mr Spencer makes his money by taking a 15 per cent commission from what is sold.
“Some people have said it is fair and some think that’s high,” he said. “That is the percentage Amazon.com takes. We will handle all the customer interaction. We will help if someone needs help uploading products.
“We will also be helping sellers with marketing techniques. For a limited time we are including a delivery at no charge.”
He decided to start Amazuda after creating a furniture sales website, spencerdeals.com, last year.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and saw that the prices of furniture in Bermuda were so high,” he said. “I had also sold furniture at one of my previous jobs. I came up with the concept of selling them locally online to save on costs and offer furniture at better prices.”
Spencerdeals.com surpassed its projected first-year revenue mark. Emboldened by its success, Mr Spencer decided he wanted to start something similar to Amazon.com, but importing everything under the sun to Bermuda wasn’t realistic.
“I thought, ‘Why not get people who already sell those products in Bermuda to sell them on the website?’” he said. “It gives them a platform. Businesses can upload their own products, do their own descriptions, and control their own categories.”
Amazuda sells not only physical products, but also services and vouchers.
“In some restaurants Tuesday nights can be dead,” he said. “You could put a voucher on Amazuda offering one starter and one main, for $60, for example.”
He envisages customers automatically checking the site for vouchers before deciding where they are going for the evening.
“The idea is to help businesses when they are struggling through quiet times to get people through the door,” he said. “It is funny that the first website I ever did construct was Bermudacoupon.com. Now I am back on Amazuda selling vouchers. I always thought Bermuda needed something like this.
“I always felt like there was a gap in the market. When I am in the UK, and go out to eat or go on an excursion, the first thing we do is check Groupon.com to see what deals are on.”
He also hopes it will become a donation pathway for local charities. “That way anyone in the world can donate,” he said.
Mr Spencer has purchased a van for the business, so he can make deliveries for larger companies.
The most challenging thing for him about setting up Amazuda was getting everything in place so that the website could accept debit or credit cards.
He is entirely self taught in the online business arena.
“I learnt through trial and error and by Googling and YouTubing stuff,” he said. “I have always liked building websites and things like that.”
He bought and sold his first domain name, Americagold.com, at age 16.
“It eventually sold for $3,000,” he said. “But I’d long sold it by then.”
At 18, he started creating a series of websites bermudacoupon.com, wayasaying.com and bermudate.com.
“At the time I didn’t have a lot of money to pump into them to make them successful,” he said. “It was just a hobby. But I learnt a lot from doing those things. What’s different this time is this is owned by an incorporated company.
“Everything has been done by the book. The previous websites were just side projects and ideas I worked on. I wasn’t as happy with the final product on those sites as I am on this one which is why I didn’t pursue them further.”
Now he calls Amazuda his baby.
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