If you love reading books, believe in sustainability, and have a budget, then Used Books Factory is the website you need. Founded by Thilak Desing, a Chennai based IT employee turned entrepreneur, Used Books Factory is a marketplace for second-hand books, and ships to almost every state in India.
How did Thilak set up a second-hand bookstore online, create a marketplace integrating other sellers via an e-commerce platform and turn a profit?
We got in touch with the entrepreneur to hear more about Used Books Factory and how the brand grew online.
How to sell used books
Thilak would browse through the alleys of Moore Market in Chennai – a popular bazaar for second-hand books and spend hours trying to find something good to read.
“I was preparing for IIT-JEE, and I remember shopping for hours in offline stores, looking for education books. There was no one place where I could save time, effort, and money. And that led to an idea.” – Thilak
As soon as Thilak joined the corporate world, he set to work to learn the ropes to set up his business.
“I identified my own struggles with finding a single platform to source books, manage shipping, and decided to set up my own business to tackle this issue.” – Thilak
So how did he do it?
Building a website
Realising that there was a growing demand for used books, Thilak set up a website called ‘Chennai Used Books’ that catered to customers in the city only.
During his stint in the corporate world, Thilak Desing learned how to code and set up a website organically, and relied on nothing but SEO and careful customer research to grow his brand.
Analyse customer demand
Thilak did not spend big bucks on marketing or social media. His sole focus was to help customers find a platform to buy and sell old books. So, he went to the offline markets personally, found the books customers were looking for and had the books delivered to them. He set up his first office in his home and began collecting books from customers personally.
“As inventory went up, our revenue started to go up. We were able to reduce the middlemen’s involvement, and could interact with customers selling their used books directly.” – Thilak
Soon, there came a space issue. Too many books, not enough shelves!
Use SEO to build your business
“Our e-commerce website went LIVE 2 years ago, and this meant we had to amp up our shipping, online payments, and customer base too.” – Thilak
How did they manage to get so many visitors, customers and buyers? Through SEO!
Thilak used coding to optimise SEO for his website, and had it ranking on the first page of Google!
“ We started getting enquiries initially around Tamil Nadu, and then pan India! This led to us modifying our generic website to ‘Used Books Factory’. Soon after, as we became more process-oriented and watched how our demand grew.” – Thilak
How to meet customer demands after setting up an e-commerce website
Used Books Factory began to ship across India, even to Jammu and Kashmir! Even the pandemic did not stop them.
“ Over 20% of our revenue comes from West Bengal, and to meet the ever growing demands, we relied on Government postal shipping to ensure that our customers continued to receive the books they ordered from our website.”
It was also important to ensure that the sellers ( customers who wanted to give away their books) were taken good care of.
“ There is always an increase in the quantity of books that customers wish to sell, leading to an increase in accumulation. However, enquiries are more for buying. Therefore, there is a balance between quantity being bought and sold.”
Recycled and good as new – giving used books new life
Indians are money-conscious. If there is a discount for a good quality book, especially education books that are not easily available, they want to purchase it. This observation by Thilak’s Used Books Factory quality control team led to setting up a process to recycle and repurpose the books coming in.
“People who want to buy the latest editions, will try to sell off their older versions to us, so we repurpose it, make it look as good as new and put it up for sale. We also ensure that any book that does not meet our criteria, or that we have too many copies of, is donated in good condition to NGOs or charities. Hence, we maintain our zero wastage policy!” – Thilak
Creating a marketplace for used books sellers with Instamojo API
How do you meet growing demands and increased orders on an e-commerce platform? Once Used Books Factory began to get multiple orders pan India, it became crucial to set up a trustworthy payments platform that allowed customers to pay easily for what they wanted.
“ I discovered Instamojo’s API and integrated it onto our website to enable easy online payments for anyone who wanted to buy our books. What impressed me was the overall ease of coding, customer payment refunds, different kinds of payments for goodwill transactions. It was the one-stop solution for any payment on our platform.” – Thilak
Besides this, the business faced a minimal issue with their payments, thanks to the customer support they received from our team. “There was always an immediate response for any emails that they send, and the taxes and commission information are very transparent too.”
After managing operations so well, Thilak Desing took his business one step further – with an e-marketplace! Now, Used Books Factory integrates second-hand bookstores on their website and allows them to sell to customers.
“ We have provided logins for individual sellers in the market and multiple sellers are now selling on the website. Our online revenue jumped 3X more after onboarding these sellers. Thanks to our website ranking in Google, we have been approached by second hand book sellers from Odisha, Telangana.” – Thilak
Not all e-commerce websites need coding. If you wish to set up an online store to kickstart your business, choose the Instamojo premium online store.
Instamojo API Keys
Instamojo provides a wide range of payment options – Credit/Debit cards, Netbanking, EMI, Wallets, and UPI. We support Rupay, VISA, MasterCard, and AMEX cards. You can choose our APIs and SDKs, or jump straight to our plugins.
Like Used Books Factory, our APIs are specially built for marketplaces. You can add multiple beneficiaries, split payments and settle them to individual beneficiaries, and hold or release funds as per fulfilment.
Got an idea to sell online? We have you covered.