In the midst of life's hustle and bustle, our work and commitments take up most of our time. Our hectic schedules frequently take us away from the people we care about the most. When the holidays arrive, instead of being excited about shopping for gifts for our loved ones, we begin to panic. Time is indeed the biggest obstacle when it comes to finding gifts for others. When time is tight, people tend to skip the entire gift-finding process and simply ask the recipient what they want. This certainly takes away the thought and effort that goes into gift-giving.
With the goal of providing individuals with a pleasant ‘Gifting Experience,’ Stygen was co-founded in 2017 by Mahadi Hasan Shagar, who also happens to be the co-founder of Geeky Social. From personal experience, he realized that it is quite difficult to choose an ideal gift for loved ones that are tailored to their taste. It is also rare to locate all types of gifts at a single store. To address these issues, the serial entrepreneur, with his sense of design and aesthetics, ventured out to create an online platform where individuals could find gifts for every occasion and make bespoke gift combos by adding their desired items.
In 2017, Stygen started as an F-commerce business. The founder recalls that on the first day, he purchased teddy bears and chocolates and wrapped them as gifts. Later, he recruited a man from his hometown to wrap the items, transport them to Pathao Courier, and occasionally even deliver them himself if necessary.
Gradually, Stygen experienced some organic growth. In 2018, Mr. Sagor shared his idea of building an ecommerce platform for gifts with his partners at GEEKY Social. With a seed investment of BDT 1 million from three of his partners, he started working on the website and rented an office for Stygen. That was the official start of Stygen’s journey.
The redesigned website includes categories such as "Gifts For Mom" and "Gifts For Dad" and also sections for various events such as anniversaries, birthdays, and so on. A new section for gift cards has also been added. The organization is looking into a few logistical innovation concepts that would allow them to provide more options to its clients. Furthermore, work is being done so that non-resident Bangladeshis can send gifts from overseas to their loved ones via Stygen.
Stygen currently sources all the products and holds inventory. The business operates on a marketplace model, integrating third-party merchants, and is responsible for picking, packing, and delivering to customers. 70% of the products are purchased from vendors and the rest is manufactured or at least designed by Stygen itself.
The company claims to have already started importing products from China and India. At the moment, the company is heavily investing in developing its own branded products, such as wall clocks, t-shirts, and wall frames. Stygen plans to feature 50% of their own brands and designs and 50% of their partners' products in their new website that will be launched this year. In the future, premium items such as smartphones will also be included as gift items.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, lockdowns, and the resulting supply chain disruption, Stygen had to shut down its business for two months in 2020. However, they quickly recovered and began to gain traction. This motivated Mr. Sagor to devote more attention to his business than he had previously. He began to devote all of his spare time outside of Geeky Social to Stygen. Prior to that, Stygen was operating without any proper supervision. The company’s only target was to reach break-even so that they could pay the rent and employees’ salaries.
The organization claims to serve more than 50 orders every day on average. In the past six to eight months, they sold products worth BDT 1.2M/month. The company is now steadily growing. In the words of the founder, “I think if we focus more, we will be able to grow at about 20% quarterly.” The platform now offers over 1000 items in various categories.
Stygen delivers the fragile items themselves with the help of three in-house delivery men. Other courier firms, such as RedX, Pathao Courier, Sundarban Courier Service, among others, handle the rest of the logistics.
Stygen is an ecommerce platform, however, it does not compete with regular e-commerce sites such as Daraz or Pickaboo. Rather, Stygen caters to a specialized market for personalized presents and gift combos. In Bangladesh, however, there are a number of online gift stores as well as 4-5 traditional e-commerce marketplaces featuring a ‘gift' category. In order to gain a firm foothold, Stygen cannot but compete with these sites.
To that end, the company is planning to open outlets in major cities of Bangladesh and take an Omnichannel approach. Having outlets will give them some advantages in terms of branding and logistics. Besides, a substantial number of people in Bangladesh still prefer a touch-and-feel experience, so a physical Stygen store will be quite a value addition.
The ambition of Stygen is to become the market leader in gifts in Bangladesh within the next few years. There are many critical challenges that come with running an ecommerce business and Stygen is no exception.
With a multi-vendor model, it is quite impossible to make a gross profit of more than 10-20% per sale. Besides, there are probabilities of orders getting canceled or getting damaged during shipping. To put it another way, it is tough for an ecommerce platform to break even, and even more so for a niche ecommerce.