Order fulfillment for offshore merchants

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Business
Tags: , ,

This little gig came about as a result of doing some website development work for an offshore merchant. I first started website development when I was in the states and set up a number of websites for local customers. When I moved to Thailand that kind of business dried up for a few reasons – I wasn’t local to my U.S. customers any longer, I didn’t speak Thai well enough to work with the Thai local businesses, and at the time there really was little value for Thai businesses in having an online presence because there just weren’t enough potential customers using the web in Thailand.

But one of my customers needed some help with order fulfillment. They had an ebook product that was selling pretty well, a fiance visa guide for people who were trying to get a visa for Thai girlfriend. The problem at the time was making it easy for customers to pay. As a very small business a merchant account with credit card processing made no sense. Paypal was the only cost effective option but at that time Thailand was not a supported country. So I proposed to do their order fulfillment for them, taking payments to my own Paypal account, delivering the ebook, and handling customer service issues.

It has worked out well for a number of years. The order volume isn’t huge so I can handle it all myself. There are rarely customer service issues, just an occasional question now and then about how to open the ebook – it’s PDF and really easy but still some people don’t have Acrobat Reader installed. I take a cut that profitably covers the few minutes of time on average I spend. And the merchant doesn’t have to lift a finger other than to update the product now and then.

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