Indonesian online marketplace startup Bukalapak surged in 2013, looks forward to 2014


bukalapak site

Indonesia’s online marketplace scene is quite crowded, and a clear cut winner has yet to emerge. Bukalapak, one of the biggest C2C marketplaces in the country, just revealed some data and progress that the company racked up in 2013.

Built “unofficially” in February 20101, Bukalapak now facilitates about IDR 500 million ($41,000) worth of transactions every day. That number comes from the transactions conducted on Bukalapak’s escrow and e-wallet BukaDompet services, so the number can still go up if the team includes direct bank transfers, which founder Achmad Zaky estimates to be more than $100,000 a day. “We are trying to convert these direct transactions to our transaction system. Hopefully we can get 100 percent this year,” he adds.

Bukalapak now has about 400,000 live item listings from over 80,000 sellers. Zaky says that most of his sellers are hobbyists. Unlike wholesale sellers who can sell hundreds of products, most of Bukalapak’s sellers only sell a few items every now and then.

Sustainable growth

For such a big and influential company, Bukalapak keeps itself lean with around 20 employees. In comparison, rival Tokopedia – which is ranked 40th in Indonesia on Alexa – now has about 60 employees. “We also don’t spend on ads too much,” Zaky says.

Zaky says Bukalapak excels in male-dominated categories like bikes, cameras, musical instruments, and computers. Many branded items make up the aforementioned categories and it helps improve BukaLapak’s SEO search results. (Updated: We’re clarifying how these branded products play a part in Bukalapak’s growth.)

Zaky likes to say that Bukalapak is community-driven. The team engages with communities, such as sponsoring events held by cyclists and photographers. Zaky also keeps in contact with his power sellers and encourages them to build seller groups and help other people sell more at Bukalapak.

Huge Alexa jump

In 2013, based on Alexa, Bukalapak suffered a huge drop in the rankings, and then immediately skyrocketed to reach the 50th position in Indonesia, an improvement from 151st position from last April. How did they pull it off?

alexa bukalapak

The answer is actually quite simple. Zaky said that they decided to use networking protocol SPDY during that time to reduce web page load time. It turns out that Alexa cannot track websites that use SPDY, which caused the huge ranking drop despite BukaLapak’s growth.

Because the Alexa team did not have a solution, BukaLapak returned to its old networking protocol. Now the Alexa ranking is back to normal.

Going mobile in 2014

Bukalapak is going more mobile this year. The team plans to launch its Android app this quarter. Based on Zaky’s observations, Indonesian buyers need to interact with the sellers first before making purchase decisions, usually for general questions like whether the items are available in certain colors. They tend to shoot multiple emails to a few sellers when doing that, and will often buy from the first seller to respond. This happens even if the seller doesn’t have the best price. Interaction speed is very important.

The Android app is designed to help sellers respond quickly to users’ questions. So sellers won’t need to open up Bukalapak’s site first if they just want to check and respond to notifications.

Mobile is going to be very big in the coming years. Bukalapak’s new e-wallet, called BukaDompet, was built in preparation. One day, users will be able to buy all the items on Bukalapak from their mobile devices with just a few taps.

Bukalapak is facing big competition from Tokopedia, Rocket Internet’s Lamido, XL’s Elevenia, and eBay’s Blanja.

(Editing by Paul Bischoff)

  1. Bukalapak initially started as a division in Zaky’s software house company. It then grew and became a standalone company in September 2011.

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