Lemi is a one-stop-shop for all your online business needs!
Starting a business isn’t easy. From finding raw materials and making your products to actually reaching the right customer base, everything takes a lot of time and energy. Even though this process is so hard, a lot of people venture out and start their own businesses, so much so that small business enterprises (SMEs) make up 90% of the world’s businesses.
If you are a small business owner, you probably already know the importance of creating a digital storefront for your SME. But even when businesses do create their own online stores, oftentimes they fail to attract customers, and that is where Lemi comes in. Lemi is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that helps businesses create an online presence without any of the hassles of setting up their own website. To hear more about Lemi, we reached out to the company’s founder and CEO, Cheryl Ng.
As someone with a passion for supporting local businesses, Ng has always wanted others to be able to buy local with greater ease. “What I had noticed, over the past 10 years, was that globalization was essentially pushing our local businesses out into the corner. So if you notice, when you walk on the main streets or in the malls, you don’t really see a lot of locally grown companies, ”Ng mentioned.
Lemi was originally marketed as a travel app. “When we first started the company, the hypothesis was: who are the people spending the most money on local businesses? I felt that people looking for local experiences are the ones traveling in from another city, ”Ng detailed. She said that tourists spend more readily than locals do, so it made sense to market small businesses to them. The app would direct you to a local business that sold the exact products you wanted to buy or places that served the kind of food you were craving.
But when the pandemic hit, everything changed. With borders closing and businesses shutting down left and right, SMEs were looking for ways to shift to the digital realm. During the pandemic peak, 20 to 30% of all businesses moved their operations online. Moreover, customer’s purchase habits have also changed, with more people shopping online than before. It was then that the company began increasing its efforts to push SMEs’ reach online.
What Lemi offers partnered businesses
A platform to support local businesses
With Lemi, customers can support local businesses instead of purchasing what they need from the first business that pops up on a Google search. All a customer needs to do is look up a product on Lemi, say “cakes”, and they will find a wide range of local SMEs selling cakes. For local businesses, particularly those on smaller scales, every bit of support is crucial to survival. Hence, Lemi contributes to the local business ecosystem by acting as a bridge between customers and local SMEs and making it easier for them to connect with each other.
Understanding that starting a business online is a lonely journey, Lemi is a platform where multiple businesses can co-exist instead of facilitating individual websites like its competitors. “Even though we are offering software as a service, the biggest difference between us and everyone else is that we don’t just say, ‘Okay, thanks for paying, you’re on your own now’,” Ng says.
Effective customer management and marketing
Lemi provides SMEs with customer relations management (CRM) systems, through which they can send customers messages to market themselves. Businesses using Lemi can also incentivize customers through digital loyalty programs. With the programs, when a customer makes purchases a certain number of times or for a certain amount of money, they get digital stamps which can be exchanged for rewards. Besides, businesses can go through a customer’s purchase history to offer them more personalized services.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of the biggest reasons why websites of small businesses fail is because of bad SEO. If your SEO is not performing well, it will affect your online presence. After all, your customer needs to be able to find you to make a purchase. To take away the additional costs of getting noticed on Google, Lemi conducts SEO for the businesses it partners with by leveraging the content created by tourists and locals who have visited partnered businesses.
“The way that it works is pushing the backlinking into your site. For example, if a lot of people are writing about your business on Lemi, all those lists will be available on a Google search, which means that there’s a lot more natural backlinking into your businesses, ”Ng explained.
A user-centric approach
Besides the services it provides partnered businesses, it is also a great platform for customers. With Lemi’s roots as a travel platform, it helps people discover businesses, bookmark them and also generates a map where you can track the distance between the different places you want to visit. This makes it possible for users to plan their travel itineraries accordingly.
Users actively create content on the platform about their travel experiences. “I spoke to a blogger from Bali that I follow on Lemi, and she says she loves Lemi because it already has a community of people who actually like to travel and discover local places,” Ng said. What’s more, users are in fact encouraged to create content. If people make a purchase based on your recommendations, you earn gems that can be exchanged for real-life goods and services.
Integrated payments and shipping
Lemi handles payments and fills out customs forms for its partnered business. It also helps you reach a global customer base by streamlining the international shipping process. All you would need to do is print out a shipping label, and you would be ready to send your products to your customers.
Finding meaning in your business
Now that you know everything Lemi has to offer, here is some advice Ng has for prospective small business owners. As someone who has successfully led her own startup and actively helps local businesses, she said that it’s important that you have a purpose behind starting a business besides making money. “With regard to entrepreneurship, it is not going to be easy. But at least it can be meaningful, and it gives you a reason to keep going despite tough times, ”she added.
Lemi is currently available in nine regions including the Philippines, France, the US and Japan. It has recently begun its services in Hong Kong and is looking for businesses with unique offerings. If that sounds like you, check out Lemi’s website for more information.
Header image courtesy of Lemi’s website.