Hi there 🥰,

In today´s blog, we continue with our mini-series with episode 4, My failures ( learnings ) with Selling new and used electronics at Mercado Libre (Latam Ebay)

Passion Market Fit

So here we have our Passion Market Fit model.

Selling electronics at Mercado Libre (Latam Ebay)

Desirability: Let's put this in context, this happened between 2007 and 2011. Between those years, Colombia has still clustered from B2C (business to consumer) international shipping, which means, that any purchase from Amazon US was very very very very expensive, so expensive that it made sense to actually buy a ticket to the US if you were going to buy 2 laptops online. Imagine that.

International shipping was controlled by already big movers that were bringing containers with technology from China or Taiwan, I call this proto-dropshipping hehehe. At that time if you wanted something from the USA, you had three options, buy it and ask a person to bring it to Colombia, buy it from the big movers, or actually travel to the USA to buy it there.

So, what did we do? I said we because this was a joint business with my sister Mafe and my uncle Cesar. We serve the need by offering new and used electronics from outlets in the US and shipping them in bulk to Colombia. Ventas Todo Import was there to serve you.

Old banner of Ventas Todo Import

In that way our service was very desirable as friends of friends, a family of friends and more, shared our contact, so we were shipping lots of products, it came to the point that it wasn't only electronics, but fashion products or dietary supplements.

We served the market by offering a trusted person (instead of a random traveler), competitive prices (competing with big movers), and avoiding travel to the US just for shopping (hand to hand service)

So our service worked in two ways, by personal order, and by selling them in Mercado Libre (Latam Ebay), the last one worked as sometimes there were months where we didn't have that many personal orders, so we cover the regular costs by selling on-demand electronics and selling them in Mercado Libre.

Desirability was high.

Feasibility: The model was feasible enough to make it work for that long.

Regarding the product, we didn't manufacture any product, we only worked with the distribution. For new products warranty worked as usual, with the brand itself, and for used products, we made sure that everything was set up and working before handing it over to the client.

Viability: We had the complete system: Miami staff, Bogota staff, shipping network, client network, selling skills, and trust in our service.

Our model itself was more strategic than technical, and for us strategy was part of the skill set so it was easy for us. Yet, the lack the technical skills is where we started to see flaws in the system which in the end brought us down.

Survival

So, why did I fail?

Besides the technical stuff, the model had other bigger flaws........Greed and lies.

We could have worked for more years, we had the system, we had the shipping network intact, we had the client network, and our trust was our unique advantage. We could have actually scaled it up for macro distribution, yet, I must say we were greedy.

Well, I cannot speak for my sister and my uncle, but for my side, as profit margins were increasing, more tweaks to the model. We started to work with double accountant books, notifying one price to Miami but selling to another price in Bogota, we started to neglect sales in order to let the value of the products go down and then purchase it by ourselves, and many more stuff.

We were lying to each other as family, we just wanted to quick buck and nothing more. We just wanted the recognition, have control, and have an income stream ( which in fact was actually pretty good), at that time I must say that on the worst month I was still making around 400 USD per month which at that time was still more than double the minium salary in our country, and in my case, I was still a student, so all that money came perfect for my economy.

Greed and lies, in the end, the truth always comes out, and when all the cards were open, we simply stop working.

My learnings

  • Ventas Todo Import was actually the business that taught me that even inside the family trust is difficult to maintain. Money can always corrupt the noblest hearts, and ego was the catalyst of that greedy spark. ( There has been always stories of family business destroyed by trust, that happened also to my dad and his business Intertelas, but that is a story for another day)

  • Any distribution system can be scaled up, Ventas Todo Import could have been scaled up to become a Big mover, all the system was in place, we just needed very strong values and ethics to make it work.

  • Selling at Mercado Libre opened the doors to improve my selling skills in the digital space. I could say that it was Ventas Todo that laid the ground for my current profession as Digital Marketer. Understanding how humans communicate through digital channels and how we can provide value was the bigger learning of all time.

Thanks for reading,

Note for me: "Bestow pardon for many things; seek pardon for none.” - Seneca

Big hug,

Andres