Brunei’s first online pet store Nimanja records 500 per cent growth

A 21-year-old’s summer start-up project now ranks amongst the Sultanate’s biggest online retailers

Brunei’s first online pet store has grossed $10,000 across December, a 500 per cent increase from their sales in November.

Nimanja, set up last October, is the brainchild of Anderson Lim, a 21-year-old Bruneian currently undertaking a degree in Financial Economics and Mathematics in New York. His parents were the founders of Brunei’s first dedicated retail pet store, Petlink, which set up over 30 years ago.

“Getting into e-commerce is really the next step for retail in Brunei,” said Anderson, who created Nimanja when returning for his summer break last June. “Logistically, Brunei is a great place to start. Almost everyone has internet access and the roads are well connected. You can easily make deliveries the same days as orders.”

Together with his team of two Bruneians, who recently graduated from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Nimanja has uploaded more than 2,000 items from 28 brands across the world – including Nimanja’s own private label cat litter made in China.

“Right now our product is the Nimanja Clean Cat Natural Litter. It’s made of natural bentonite, so no chemicals are used and comes in a 25 kilogramme bag,” said Anderson, who has priced the litter at roughly half of the more premium brands for a competitive advantage.

As Nimanja’s product catalogue and pricing are very similar to Petlink group which includes Pet Planet and Pet Vision, Anderson is banking on convenience and unique discounts to draw customers.

“The majority of pet owners already have their set preferences for food and litter,” said Anderson. “This lends itself to selling online – since customers can easily order exactly what they want, order it in bulk, and have it delivered right to their doorstep.”

The Nimanja team has set a target for orders in Brunei-Muara made before 5pm to be delivered on the same day by 9pm, with delivery made free for orders above $50 to Brunei-Muara and $100 for Tutong and Belait.

Despite Nimanja offering a secure payment gateway through Baiduri for Visa, Mastercard and American Express card holders, Anderson says that the majority of customers still opt to pay on delivery.

“I studied the markets in Malaysia, India, where many customers ordering online still prefer to pay when they receive,” says Anderson. “So we had to make it an option when we started doing business here. In the bigger picture we are working on building that trust with our brand – so customers will be confident to pay online.”

Nimanja had its first sale on October 19, but traffic in their opening weeks was slow. Anderson began to leverage on social media advertising, which he describes as the “most cost-effective option” for new businesses.

Through Facebook, Anderson is able to put out advertisements that specifically target Brunei residents who are pet owners or who are interested in getting pets. He keeps his monthly promotion budget within a few hundred dollars per month.

“It’s very different to paying thousands for a billboard that only people passing by will see, or a single ad in the newspaper for just one day,” said the 21-year-old. “And since Facebook also owns Instagram, which many Bruneians also use, so the advertising process is very streamlined.”

Aside from developing more private label products under the Nimanja brand, Anderson also has ambitious plans for the e-retailer to also have its own online marketplace to house other sellers – much like eBay – and to be a distributor for Borneo.

“Building the Nimanja brand is what will allow us to tap into these opportunities,” he said. “The online marketplace hasn’t really taken off here, and we do have an advantage (logistically) to cater to Sarawak and Sabah when compared to west Malaysia.”