“Our goal is 25% of Epicenter’s total turnover. If we succeed, we will beat everyone else by a huge margin”, – Artem Shevchenko, CEO at Epicenter Marketplace, co-owner of the Hubber project
Artem Shevchenko is the CEO at “Marketplace Epicenter” and co-owner of the Hubber project, that works with merchants and marketplaces. On the youtube channel “Big Fish” Artem told about how he managed to make a boxed solution for businesses that “Epicenter” was interested in, why his marketplace is an IT company and whether he plans to become a market leader.
ABOUT THE START OF COOPERATION WITH “EPICENTER”
As Scallium we worked with the French company “Leroy Marlene” and realized that we had a boxed solution that we could offer other businesses. That’s where our communication with Epicenter began. We crossed paths at different events and exchanged our opinions.
Andrey Trush, Director of Digital Marketing at Epicenter, said the idea was overdue and it was time to implement it. After a long negotiation process, Epicenter did not just want to buy our product: they decided that we should put together a team and launch a marketplace.
ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARTNERS
Let me dispel the rumor that Epicenter bought Hubber. It was and remains with the same founders and is developing independently. There are five of us at Hubber: three of us are actively involved in operations and strategic activities, and two others, although actively involved, are less media savvy.
We got together to discuss the decision to develop the marketplace, and we realized it was possible. Before that, I was essentially Hubber’s CEO in an operational role. Now Alexey Luzhkovoy is the head. There is also Andrey Pavlenko, who successfully plays the role of CEO at Scallium. We decided that we would not lose anything, but would have an opportunity to win. Because it is a challenge not only for me but for the company as well.
You shouldn’t think that I’ve cut the cord and severed my relationship with Hubber. I’m just much less involved in operations, but my role as a founder has remained with me. In addition, everyone has had the opportunity to realize their abilities much better.
ABOUT HUBBER AND SCALLIUM
Scallium was created in January 2020. At first there was only one employee there: me. Hubber and Scallium were not conceived as products for the Ukrainian market. For example, Scallium is now locked to the United States. Now Scallium appeared in the Epicenter client portfolio. After that, the guys slightly restructured the process and created a SaaS solution.
It is not as expensive to maintain and buy, but it is more difficult to implement than building a ready-made Enterprise and selling it as a box. Now Scallium trades quite successfully on a SaaS model outside of Ukraine.
ABOUT THE ONLINE STORE “EPICENTER”
Online store “Epicenter” 27.ua developed quite successfully. In the media it was even called “the killer of “Rozetka”. Even before the launch of the marketplace, they renamed 27.ua into epicentrk.ua, and it became a single omni-channel business for the marketplace.
It had nothing to do with the marketplace. It’s hard for me to say how much of an online store and its name unrelated to Epicentrk was a good decision. But judging by the way things have turned out now, epicentrk.ua is a good one.
We work as a separate IT company. In January 2020 we had one employee, after one month – three, and today we have more than 150 people. We built this structure in a year and a half. We consider ourselves an IT-company because, firstly, we have a product and 5 teams of programmers who do the backend, frontend and testing. Secondly, we are realizing our goals and working with our own metrics, rather than fulfilling orders from outside. Thirdly, we are permanently automating all the processes.
The company consists of two areas: the development and commercial part, which includes work with merchants. We have a team of salespeople who process applications, find merchants and communicate with them at the first stage.
There is a department of support for existing merchants. There’s a team of moderators who work with content because our criteria for product cards are the highest on the market. We have our own call center and this is a feature which other marketplaces do not use.
ABOUT WORKING WITH CUSTOMERS
Communication with the customer is on our side, we want to satisfy their need for planned, impulse and urgent purchases, to provide quality service and securitiveness. Customers may be worried about the fact that they seem to be on the Epicenter site, but they buy from a third-party seller.
And sometimes they buy quite expensive goods: equipment, furniture and swimming pools. Our task is to insure the customer, to give maximum control at the stage of moderation of the goods, and at the stage of interaction with merchants and at the stage of delivery, because the delivery is not ours, but the market providers: “Ukrposhta” and “Novaya Pochta”.
ON BENEFITS FOR MERCHANTS
We do not allow merchants to communicate with customers. Why not? Because the merchant is very often a small business, a sole proprietorship, with several people working for it. We unload it by letting it focus on the work it does best: producing and importing goods, working with the warehouse.
As part of the marketplace “Epicenter” becomes a partner for small businesses on transparent, parity terms, which can be controlled by both sides. We give any merchant access to a storefront with multi-million dollar traffic. We provide all the interfaces to work with content, logistics, and finance. It’s not about addiction, it’s about a place to do business.
Obviously, an online store cannot grow rapidly without changing the number of product categories. Therefore we will actively open new areas. Will it allow us to become the market leader?
If it turns out that our calculations are correct and we have built the right relationship with merchants, then I see no reason why not. The specific goal is 25% of Epicenter’s total turnover. If we can do that, we will beat everyone else by a huge margin.