RETAIL | Danielle Isaac, Singapore

This reverse auction app lets you buy items at the lowest bid

Doropu has sold 35,000 products in Singapore and Malaysia to date.

What started out as a “The Price Drop” TV marathon between two college roommates in the UK has grown into a new type of e-commerce app in Singapore called Doropu, which subjects items to price drops in a “reverse auction” until they get sold for the lowest bid.

Doropu seeks to offer value to both its merchants that want to get their products out to the market rapidly as well as consumers that want to buy “value for money” items.

“We offer a limited quantity of items a day so the price for the item will keep dropping until we are sold out or get to zero. It doesn't matter whether you are the first or the last buyer. Everyone will pay for the final price,” Png Zhe Hao, Doropu co-founder, told Singapore Business Review.

According to him, Doropu offers different items everyday, so as to encourage users to keep coming back to the app to see what is on sale. “Consumers only go to e-commerce platforms and buy stuff only when they want to buy, but most people don’t browse the e-commerce platforms everyday,” he added.

He noted how Doropu recently sold an Apple Watch, which is originally priced $599, for $433. “This is something that our users enjoyed,” he said.

For their merchants, when they sell items with discounts, usually, they want to sell their items like laptops for 70% or 90% off, and then they have to wait for customers to buy, Zhe Hao noted. “But using our Doropu platform, they don't have to offer it at a strict discount, like 90% off their goods. They can just list their original price on our platform and let the price drop and let the users decide which price they would like to buy it with,” he added.

The app has sold over 35,000 products to date, including vouchers, food products, electronics, and home & living items. It has also recorded more than 180,000 downloads and 90,000 active users in Singapore and Malaysia.

Doropu started out in February 2018 in Malaysia but was made available in the Malaysian app store in May 2018. Zhe Hao recalled how during the first day, they tried to sell just five pairs of movie tickets. “It was very hard for us. We had to call friends and family to sell just five pairs of movie tickets even though we dropped the price by 50%,” he said.

But after the app got to the market, Doropu found the process “much easier,” Zhe Hao said, “Everybody in the market wants to buy ‘value for money’ stuff. After our success in Malaysia, we started in Singapore in 2019 and replicated this model.”

Doropu currently has four revenue streams, including a wallet system. “Before people buy things on our app, they have to top up on our wallet before they can buy,” Zhe Hao said.

Doropu also has partnerships with its merchants. “Some of the items that are given to us are 100% sponsored, and we make 100% profit on these items,” he added.

The company also offers paid campaigns for customers and merchants and allows merchants to set price drops that can control the returns gained from the reverse auction.

According to Zhe Hao, the app’s user base grows 20-30% every month. “Whilst we hope to increase this number to more users, we also want to increase the number of merchants that will join our platform to sell their things and bring more satisfaction to our customers,” he said, adding that it plans to enlist more merchants after a soft launch this year.

Doropu also eyes selling big-ticket items like cars, houses, or holiday packages. “In Singapore, we've had preliminary talks with some dealers to sell cars in Doropu, so we hope to realise it next year or by 2020. In the next three to five years, we hope that Doropu is going to be a unique channel in which merchants are able to get their product out to consumers 24 hours a day,” Zhe Hao said. 

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