The Sunday Leader

Shop Easier With Kapruka

  • Ecommerce  Vendor Makes Rs. One Bn

Dulith Herath (photo by Asoka Fernando)

By Waruni Karunarathne

Most of the entrepreneurs who climb the ladder of “success” in the business world have very interesting and at times inspiring stories behind their success.

Both founder and Chairman of Kapruka, Dulith Herath shares a very exciting story, leading him to ultimately becoming the owner of Sri Lanka’s first and largest ecommerce site.

His recent venture, Kapruka Global Shop allows the Sri Lankan customers to enjoy high quality products designed to the American market, providing access to other online shopping portals like amazon.com, ebay, walmart.com, etc.

Kapruka Global Shop is a novel concept where one ecommerce vendor is linked with another and does business transactions on behalf of local customers giving them the “exact” final price, including customs charges.

“We are linked with Amazon.com and ebay online shopping portals giving a massive choice of global products to the customers. \

The huge range of choice is not the only advantage-it gives the best possible price for the best quality goods only with a $5 extra payment made to Kapruka for using the service-and they also provide a free door-step delivery service.

Buy Now, Pay Later

When placing an order with the “Global Shop,” the customer only has to pay 10% of the value- the rest will be charged once the item arrives. Nobody in the South Asian region has done anything similar to this so far. This will entirely change ecommerce in Sri Lanka and will create competition among local vendors,’ says Herath, excited about his new venture in Sri Lanka.

Global Shop provides customers the facility to browse a wide range of products through any of those ecommerce sites and permits them to place their order with Kapruka, giving a choice of airfreight or sea freight as the mode of transport.

“This allows them to order big bulk products. They can even order a product that weighs as heavy as an elephant and still will have to pay more or less the same service fee,” he said.

Starting business with minimum facilities and a small number of deliveries, Kapruka grew fast over the last 10 years-at present it undertakes more than 500 deliveries per day.

“I now have 200 dedicated employees and we earn over billion rupees yearly. The beauty is that I came to Sri Lanka, only three years back, before which I was running the business while staying in the USA,”’ says Herath.

Innovation

“Innovation is definitely the key to my success. Even as a child, I was very inquisitive and innovative. I took immense pleasure in reassembling broken electronic items. I even created a small robot and went to the extent of writing it a manual. You might call me a computer geek. And I completely agree with you,” he confesses.
Herath’s enthusiasm led him to follow his undergraduate studies in computer science at a much higher level in the USA despite many financial difficulties.

“My parents were unable to fund my studies. I had to manage four odd jobs while studying. Just after my studies in 2001, I created sithiyama.com, a digital map of Sri Lanka-that was years before Google introduced Google Maps. I presented it at an event at the university and after seeing it Microsoft immediately hired me,’ says Herath giving us some background to his career.

However, his target was to do something big in the Sri Lankan community and he saw the opportunity to build something similar to Amazon.com in Sri Lanka.

“The concept of online shopping was a complete novel idea to Sri Lanka at the time. Neither people nor the banks were ready for ecommerce. I took a step back, looked at the bigger picture and realized there were two million Sri Lankans who lived outside the country. That is twice the size of the population in Colombo. They are the ones who are in a dire need to communicate with their loved ones, including sending gifts or getting down their favourite items,” says Herath, explaining how he geared his business.

The word “Kapruka” denotes a wishing tree in Sinhala, which is appropriate in terms of its function and according to him can never be misspelt. In 2003, Herath launched kapruka.com with the aspiration to make it as big as Amazon in the USA.

Initially starting with CDs, he expanded the range of items into books and flowers- now offering a choice of 50 million items to its customers and enjoying the height of its success.

Herath adds modestly, “Kapruka Global Shop is the peak of all my innovations. It is big enough for my entire career. His innovativeness is not the only key to his success, but it is evidently also to do with a combination of hard work and passion.

 

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