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Bag a bargain with Saamnang

Paul Simbsler, CEO and co-founder of Saamnang
Paul Simbsler, CEO and co-founder of Saamnang, talks to the Post from a cafe in Phnom Penh late last week. Vireak Mai

Bag a bargain with Saamnang

Cambodia’s first e-commerce platform, Saamnang.com, launched just last month, but it has already gained a great deal of attention from internet users. French-born co-founder and CEO of Saamnang.com, Paul Simbsler, sat down with the Post to discuss his online business in a country where the concept is still very new.

How was Saamnang founded?
My partner and I have been working on this project for almost two years. We first started this concept in France and we tried to find another country to develop it in. We tried to make it in China because we studied in China, but it was a bit complicated to start. So we kept this idea in our head while searching for a place. My other co-founder arrived first in Cambodia while I was still in China.

And we started our first company, Mealtemple, a food delivery service company. From time to time, we developed the concept further and finally started in Cambodia.

How is the progress of Saamnang at the moment?
Our customers are Cambodians and age from 17 to 30. We have 3,000 registered accounts on Saamnang. Most of them have smartphones. In just two weeks, we got 16,000 likes on Facebook and we are the 700th most-visited website in Cambodia, which is a good start for us. For the moment, we only sell electronic gadgets such as iPhones, iPads, tablets, Samsung products, Huawei products, TVs and motorbikes, because of high demand for those products.

How does the process work?
You have to register and buy some credits. You can buy credits from Wing. For a private sale, we have original price, maximum price and price per option and countdown days. The game is to place a price option during the countdown days. To become the winner, you have to respect two conditions, you have to be unique and have a low price.

For example the original price of an iPhone is around $600 and is being sold for $54, the maximum price with 10 days countdown. And price per option is 20 credits. You put in price option at $5.93.

You spend 20 credits to buy $5.93. At the end of the 10 days, if $5.93 is the most unique and the lowest price, you can have your iPhone for $5.93.

Why Cambodia and why do you think it will be a successful business?
At the age of 17 to 30 years old, people need smartphones. And they need to save for two to three months to buy one. We want to give them a way to get what they dream of easily without taking a lot of risk. We want people to be able to buy their dream products with a 90 per cent discount. How many companies can do that? We are the first company in Cambodia to start e-shopping.

E-shopping in Cambodia now is less developed compared to other developed countries like France, but Cambodia e-shopping will take off fast because Cambodians are advancing in technology.

Saamnang is very new to Cambodians, what are your strategies to attract customer?
We have already made one video with Meas Soksophea and Rolin just to explain how it works. It has been viewed by thousands of people.

We need brand ambassadors like Meas Soksophea and Rolin because we need to build trust. We are arriving with a new concept. We want people to trust us. We have registered with the Ministry of Commerce. We pay tax and we are under the law, we are not just a random website playing with people money.

What are the plans for Saamnang?
In Cambodia now, we are developing a hotline for customers who have problems understanding how Saamnang works. Once everyone understands, it will be easy. We also want to run Saamnang in Thailand or in Lao in the future.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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