E-commerce is a much competitive field that requires businesses to stand out and make a difference in the market.
Kong is a perfect platform that provides everything you need to know, step by step, to set up a professional online store.
Kong is definitely helping businesses to go global and this powerful tool has currently over 4,000 online shops signed up since its launch in August 2015.
We talked to Neil Crookes, the technical director at Kong, to know more about this innovative platform.
Midlands Traveller: To start with, what is the concept of Kong?
Neil Crookes: We’ve built Kong to empower anyone to sell their products online, through their own professional online store, for free. It’s an easy-to-use, powerful platform designed to help a business grow from an idea to a successful global store.
Midlands T: What kind of people/businesses are the potential users of Kong?
Neil Crookes: Anyone from individuals selling a just few products, part-time, with just a few orders a month, all the way up to enterprises selling hundreds of products, with thousands of orders a month.
Ease-of-use is one of our most important principles, so even if you’re not very tech-savvy, you should still be able to get up and running in no time. And if people get stuck, we also offer free support.
Midlands T: What is unique about this software compared to other platforms?
Neil Crookes: Kong is the only platform that provides everything you need to run a professional online store for free, without restrictions on products, storage or bandwidth. To get started, there are no subscription or transaction fees.
There are other platforms that claim to be free, but once you dig into the details, you’ll find there are restrictions, or they charge for some really basic features.
Midlands T: How is Kong useful for small online retailers?
Neil Crookes: Our free and incredibly simple-to-use platform completely removes the barriers to entry for anyone wanting to become an online retailer. It helps retailers get started and grow their businesses with limited risk.
We will make this all possible by selling more advanced feature power-ups, apps and themes for when an e-commerce business grows to need them. Powerups add advanced features that will help increase sales or save store owners time so they can focus on growing their businesses in other ways.
The fact that we don’t charge subscription or transaction fees means small online retailers can compete on a level playing field with larger, more established businesses.
Midlands T: What about the customers, why is it useful for online shoppers?
Neil Crookes: We’ve built plenty of unique features into Kong to make sure the experience for digital shoppers is easy and efficient, without any surprises.
Kong’s Themes score 100% in Google’s mobile readiness checker, so customers can shop easily from any device.
When a customer browses through the products in a Kong Store, the prices all include the correct amount of tax, regardless of where you are in the world. We do this by guessing the shipping country based on their computer’s IP address, and calculating the correct tax, “on-the-fly”.
Other platforms typically just show the price in the seller’s country, which means either the prices shown are often higher, and customers are less likely to add products to their basket, or they are increased when the customer gets to the checkout process, meaning they are more likely to abandon their purchase.
Midlands T: How could Kong make e-commerce more practical and easy for the users of this platform?
Neil Crookes: We’re constantly listening to our customers and adapting our platform to meet their needs as an online retailer, both in terms of features & flexibility and terms of ease-of-use of our platform. After all, our business hinges on this and our business model is centred on it.
Midlands T: What kind of products can be sold via Kong?
Neil Crookes: Any products can be sold via Kong. We’ll be adding more sophisticated support for digital products in the near future, including hosting and restricted downloads.
Midlands T: How many companies are associated with Kong currently?
Neil Crookes: There are 4,000 Kong Stores at the moment, and more are signing up every day.
Midlands T: Are international businesses also allowed to use Kong?
Neil Crookes: You can set up a store in any country, but Kong is currently only available in British English and using Pounds Sterling (GBP).
We have built Kong to work globally though, and we’ll be turning on multi-currency and multi-lingual functionality in the near future. We’ve had quite a bit of interest from international businesses already.
Midlands T: What are the platform’s new features for 2016?
Neil Crookes: We’ve lots of exciting features planned for release in 2016, the first of which is the integration of our payment gateway, KongPay, that will offer lower rates than any other payment gateways, and unrivalled ease of use.
We also plan to integrate great value shipping services into Kong to allow Store Owners to ship orders to their customers cheaper, quicker and easier than they can at the moment.
Other than that, we have a whole host of PowerUps planned to help Kong Store Owners to grow their businesses, including product ratings & reviews and blogs etc.
Photos | Kong
Neil Crookes is an experienced and respected software engineer, having led the development of many large-scale web applications in the education, entertainment and travel industries.
He has also made significant contributions to open-source software projects and has spoken at several international conferences on software-related topics.
During and since obtaining a Master’s degree from the University of Southampton’s world-renowned Computer Science department, Neil has developed strong business, strategy and leadership skills. This, coupled with his expert software engineering skills and 8 years of experience at a top global digital marketing agency means Neil is perfect to help steer and drive Kong on its way to a hugely successful, global, eCommerce platform