Here’s what you should know before the weekend starts.

1. Thai payments startup Omise to raise funding using digital coins

Thai payments startup Omise plans to raise up to US$16 million by allowing investors to use ether, the digital currency of blockchain technology Ethereum.

Investors will be able to use or buy tokens, which will give them a share of transaction revenue generated by their upcoming blockchain-based payments platform Omise Go.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. CIMB-Alipay mobile wallet partnership to benefit Chinese tourists

The two parties announced a collaboration to enable the Alipay mobile wallet in Malaysia as an alternative cashless payment for Chinese tourists.

Alipay merchants in Malaysia will have the opportunity to deepen their wallet share from Chinese travellers, by providing an alternative payment channel to current cash or dual-currency credit card facilities.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. H&M Invests in supply chain as fashion rivalry with Zara intensifies

H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion company, said conditions remained very tough in key European markets and in the United States, with shopping behaviour and expectations changing rapidly.

H&M has been investing heavily in IT investments to integrate its stores and ecommerce and make its supply chain faster and more flexible, but detail on progress has been scant.

H&M is also branching out into new concepts to reach a broader customer base and reduce exposure to the increasingly crowded budget segment. It announced a new chain of stores, ARKET, with a slightly higher price range than its core budget H&M brand.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Lazada partners with Unilever to capture Southeast Asia’s online retail growth

Lazada, has joined hands with Unilever in hopes of grabbing a bigger slice of the region’s online retail market in fast-moving consumer goods.

Lazada’s FMCG product category grew by 181% in 2016 over 2015, making it the platform’s strongest growth category.

The two companies will work closely together on supply chain, fulfillment, data, marketing, social commerce and talent development to grow their business’ reach in the region.

The partnership will allow Unilever to test new products before deciding whether to send them offline, while also allowing the company to offer exclusive products to Lazada shoppers.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Unilever acquires minority stake in direct-to-consumer skincare brand True Botanicals

The deal is Unilever Ventures’ first with a direct-to-consumer luxury skincare brand, and demonstrates the appeal of natural products and digital business models to beauty investors.

Olivier Garel, head of Unilever Ventures said:

From a business perspective, the direct distribution enables the company to invest much more than has been traditional in the product quality and the shopping experience

True Botanicals is available at Barneys New York and natural beauty retailer Follain, but the company doesn’t anticipate brick-and-mortar sales ever exceeding 20% of its turnover.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. WeChat expands in Europe in bid for global advertisers and payments partners

Owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd., WeChat is looking to launch an office in the U.K. and another European country, alongside its existing presence in Italy.

WeChat is now focusing more on business-to-business, encouraging Western brands to sell products on the WeChat platform.

In Europe, the focus is first on fashion and luxury goods, and will in time expand to travel and broader retail services. WeChat is hoping its expansion in Europe will convince more high-profile brands onto the platform, to also reach Chinese tourists visiting Europe.

Tencent could be trying to do what Alipay is doing, but there’s much more uncertainty in terms of when the business could take off, as it would need to overcome many regulatory hurdles.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the world’s second richest person

Jeff Bezos added $1.5 billion to his fortune as Amazon.com Inc. rose $18.32 on Wednesday, the day after the acquisition of middle eastern retailer Souq.com.

Amazon’s founder has added $10.2 billion this year to his wealth and $7 billion since the global equities rally began following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Bezos remains $10.4 billion behind Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person with $86 billion.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Freightos, an Expedia for the shipping industry raises $25m

Freightos, a Hong Kong-headquartered startup that lets people compare prices and book shipping services, has raised a $25 million funding round led by GE Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Electric.

Freightos’ main product is AcceleRate, a subscription software for carriers and freight forwarders to automate calculating and managing shipping rates. The price comparison feature is a new addition to the platform.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Indonesia’s Go-Jek launches new feature to book Blue Bird taxi

Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek and taxi company Blue Bird today launched Go-BlueBird, a special feature to book Blue Bird taxis via the Go-Jek app. Under the Go-BlueBird feature, users will be able to pay for taxi fare using the Go-Jek’s cashless payment service Go-Pay. The new partnership establishes Go-Jek as an “industry enabler”.

The new product is launched as Go-Jek, with other ride-hailing startups Grab and Uber, battles an upcoming revision of the land transportation regulation.

Read the rest of the story here

There’s increasing pressure for ecommerce companies to offer customers “value-added services” such as same-day delivery or offline pick-up points thanks to a growing generation expectant of instant gratification – waiting even 3 days for a package isn’t going to cut it.  

Online brands and retailers end up working with a variety logistics companies to deliver orders across urban and rural areas in a quick fashion to appease customers. This is a trend not only in developed economies, but demanded in developing countries such as Thailand and Indonesia as well.

Progression of logistics in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is poised to become one of the world’s fastest growing market for ecommerce, estimated to exceed $238 billion by 2020. Known to be ridden with infrastructure challenges such as fickle trade regulations and lack of roads, government initiatives across the region are being put in place to improve logistics.

An example is the Indonesian government’s push to increase accessibility of islands in the country by constructing a road alongside the Malaysian border and building seaports.

“If you look at the roads, airports and railways, things are improving and will continue to. Infrastructure spend in Indonesia is expected to reach $165 billion by 2025 and the spend in public investment expected to increase by 7% per year,” says Charles Brewer, CEO at DHL Ecommerce.

Thailand also has a $50 billion infrastructure budget as the country plans to improve roads, highways and railways in the upcoming years.

But long term changes will take both investment and time before the region’s infrastructure can catch up to “same-day appetite” in developing markets and at a relatively inexpensive cost.

The ‘Light’ Model

In the meantime, online players can rely on the rise of an on-demand, lighter logistics model that tackles issues of long delivery periods and limited distribution in rural locations.

According to real estate consulting firm CBRE, modern logistics services are shifting away from big box warehouses, bulky deliveries and in turn, expanding their networks with existing infrastructure or building small counters across the country to meet the demands of clients.

Examples of this in Bangkok include SKYBOX pickup and dropoff kiosks, located at the city’s public train stations and Zalora Thailand that uses 7-Eleven as return points.

Logistics providers are also introducing collection points at existing locations such as shopping centers or office buildings in second and third tier cities as seen by DHL Ecommerce’s recent nationwide expansion in Thailand. The company’s aim is to decrease the time SMEs take to ship parcels.

According to a DHL survey, 55% of SMEs cite logistics as a time killer.

It’s resource heavy to build new hubs and roads and companies can’t afford the time needed to see infrastructure improvements and capture market share. By turning to a light model, logistics services can provide efficient, speedy services without big investments.

Adapting to (on) demand

Southeast Asia’s increase in delivery expectancies could be attributed to the fact that mobile subscriptions are ahead of the global average with 854 million mobile connections. These mobile first users can easily request for on-demand groceries, t-shirts and hot meals on the go with their phones.

Next day delivery account for 95% of existing logistics services in Thailand, while the remaining 5% is filled by on-demand delivery services. There’s still a vast opportunity for logistics players to service ecommerce companies that require speed and efficiency.

In Indonesia, there are PopBox lockers designed to make last mile more convenient for shoppers and merchants. According to William Tanuwijaya, CEO of B2C marketplace Tokopedia, “courier businesses will grow as they are needed to deliver products sold on marketplaces. The promise of fast delivery is also appealing to locals.”

In order to fully serve Southeast Asia’s growing customer demand for faster deliveries, logistics companies need to offer localized, out of the box solutions such as pick-up points in parcel shops, partnerships with convenience stores, lockers or risk being left behind.

 

Here’s what you should know today.

1. SoCash raises angel funding of $600K 

SoCash, the startup that allows you to withdraw cash from any merchant just like an ATM, announced today it has raised a new round of angel funding worth $600,000. The funding comes from unnamed “veteran bankers and technologists.”

The startup uses your bank’s mobile app to let you transfer an amount to the merchant’s bank account. Then you can pick up the amount in cash from the merchant. As for merchants, SoCash provides them with extra traffic in their stores and a new revenue source.

The funding will be used to grow SoCash’s sales team so it can get more banks in Southeast Asia on board.

In total, the startup has secured $925,000 in angel funding and is looking to raise its first institutional round.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Ho Chi Minh City may tax online sales in April

Ho Chi Minh City’s tax department has said it will work with related departments to impose sales taxes on businesses running on Facebook and other online shopping sites.

Last month, the trade department proposed the city work with Facebook on measures to collect tax from businesses running on the site. The General Department of Taxation is now working on measures to tax the businesses operating on social media channels.

But it may be challenging because many online retailers use anonymous accounts for transactions, and the majority of transactions are cash based.

 

3. Amazon to shut down Diapers.com and other Quidsi sites

Amazon.com . is closing Diapers.com, Soap.com and other sites it purchased for about $545 million in 2011. The online retailer said it’s shutting Quidsi, the unit that ran the websites, because it couldn’t make a profit.

 the company’s renewed grocery push is an ideal time to consolidate brands
Quidsi specialized in certain categories, like baby products and household goods, while Amazon was trying to offer infinite inventory. But the draw of sites like Diapers.com has faded since Amazon became the go-to place for online shopping.
Read the rest of the story here.

 

4. Community Chatter: FMCG growth in Southeast Asia

Souce: Nielsen’s Twitter page

The two countries’ rapid FMCG growth could provide more opportunities in both online and offline retail. As spending power increases, shoppers can also begin to afford more luxury upgrades of everyday items.

Read eIQ’s insights on everyday premium products, here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Tencent launches ‘Trends’ feature on WeChat

Tencent rolled out Thursday a new feature called “WeChat Index”, a Google Trends equivalent, on its popular messaging app Wechat.

The Chinese internet giant says the new feature is a mobile indexing based on WeChat’s large data analysis.

Currently, the index allows users to track the dynamic change of keywords in 7 days, 30 days and 90 days.

WeChat claims that its in-app index can not only help users capture popular words and get acquainted with search trends, but help the government and businesses acquire timely public opinions and make responses effectively. It can also help marketers generate accurate consumer insights.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Singtel, Telkomsel launch mobile remittance service

Two of Southeast Asia’s largest telcos, Singtel and Telkomsel, announced yesterday a deal that will allow Indonesians living in Singapore to send remittances to unbanked people back home.

The system leverages a service called SingCash (it falls under the ‘Singtel Dash’ brand) to allow people to send money via a their phones. Recipients of the money will be able to cash-out at 4,500 post office locations (operated by PT Pos Indonesia) across the country.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Thailand’s lifestyle products market is expected to grow by 5% this year

Lifestyle product shipments fetched $2.71 billion last year, down 2%. But the private sector claimed that export growth continued, saying that the value of cross-border online sales grew substantially.

Jirabool Vittayasing, secretary-general of the Thai Lifestyle Products Federation, said shipments of online sales have grown significantly, with certain companies enjoying online sales growth of up to a 100%.

PayPal, the US-based digital payments giant, recently forecast that Thailand’s online cross-border shopping would grow by 84% this year.

Read the rest of the story here.