Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane and Réunion islands are four french overseas territories : there are parts of the French State at a certain distance from what one usually designates as France on a map. In these departments, the rules are roughly the same as in other parts in France: language, education, citizen representation in parliament, administrative system, education, currency (euro) and more.
The goods that are sold in this territory are generally from continental France, and due to the distance between these departments and the European continent, you can already guess how expensive they are. Nowadays, a good alternative for the inhabitants of these departments would have been to use online sales sites, but the hefty customs fees make it an equally disadvantageous options. Thus the inhabitants are generally left with two choices : buy products at a high price in the stores, or order products at a lower price and pay tremendously high customs fees using an another service able to send parcels from continental France to french overseas.
97deal.com: the third option
Erwin Thomyris, a 27 yo Martinique-born, was eager to propose a complete solution dealing with both prices and delivery issues.
In 2013, he created his own sales website, 97deal.com (the area codes of the overseas departments all start with 97). The private sales website offers an advantageous alternative for the people living in the French overseas departments to buy clothes & accessories, beauty products and electronic devices.
He started by supplying prescription glasses on which there is usually an important gap between the factory price and the market price. His first sale was Chopard glasses that his client had bought at a price three times higher on her island. Once she had had a conversation with Erwin, she returned her glasses to the optician and bought them back on 97 deal !
At the beginning, Erwin had put his own phone number and the clients were encouraged to call. He did so because he knows that his clients were not used to buying online and that they would need to be reassured by knowing that there was someone behind the website. What helps Erwin is that he understands the specificity of his target.
But most and foremost, he analyzes the market in order to increase the website’s visits/traffic by spotting those who could possibly be interested by a product that he sells.
Moreover, Erwin promotes his products on social networks, using his 5000-contact database and . He is always seeking ways to generate traffic on his website.
The current team
Erwin works with Maxence, who works with the suppliers and Samuel, the community manager.
Erwin was a financial analyst in France but he had planned to be a business owner for a long time: since the age of 4 with his playmates. He is currently living in Martinique and also advises businesses in order to implement the marketing techniques he uses on his website to their physical business.
He also gives strategic marketing classes in Guadeloupe to young people who have business ideas but who lack support to build their project. It is a job that he enjoys doing this because he gets to help and encourage students who have great ideas and also doubts, which reminds Erwin of him at the same age.
Maxence lives in Paris and stays in contact with the suppliers and stocks the products before sending them to the overseas territories.
Samuel Anselme is the community manager. He is based in Guadeloupe. Erwin met him because he ordered glasses (again!) on the website. Samuel started as his intern and is still working with him Erwin.
What Now ?
During the first 6 months of 2014, Erwin had already reached his 2013 gains. So now, Erwin is seeking to enlarge his reach even more thanks to mail and SMS advertising campaigns and a growing business network.