Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Vietnam state investment arm SCIC partners Thai Kasikornbank

Vietnam’s government investment arm SCIC, the state investor in the country’s biggest firm Vinamilk, has inked a deal with Thai Kasikorn Bank to unlock more investment opportunities in Vietnam.

Thailand has accounted for significant investments into Vietnam, notably in the retail sector. TCC Holding and Central Group put a war chest to acquire retail assets in Vietnam over the past two years to secure top positions in this $118 billion market.

Vietnam has been seen as a magnate for foreign investors thanks to its stable economic annual growth of some 6.5 per cent, blended with a rising middle class and improving infrastructure. Ecommerce has also grown steadily as a result.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Malaysian payments startup Soft Space gears up for Japan launch with $5m investment

Malaysian payments startup Soft Space has raised $5 million in its series A funding round.

The firms will collaborate on a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, making use of Transcosmos’ data analytics capabilities and Soft Space’s suite of payments options.

Some features are still under development, but once completed the CRM software will be able to deliver targeted ads and loyalty programs, and let merchants employ chatbots to help handle customer complaints.

How would it work?

A restaurant, equipped with Soft Space’s card reader and linked up with its software, can accept a wide range of physical payments with cards, as well as online payments. After the payment has been made, the restaurant owner can send customers a survey and ask them to give a rating.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Amazon Prime Now, Can Singapore Deliver?

“It’s going to be a siege.”

That’s one expert’s view of the battle looming ahead for Singapore’s brick-and-mortar retailers as e-commerce giants prime the Lion City as a key staging ground in their fight for Asian supremacy.

Social media was abuzz this week amid rising speculation that Amazon Prime Now – the US-based online retail behemoth’s two-hour delivery service – will soon be available in the city state.

The rumour mill started churning a week earlier after the chief executive of Lazada, the Alibaba-controlled Southeast Asian e-retailer, told a public forum that Prime Now would be available starting May 28.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Alibaba to lead $1b round into Chinese food delivery startup

Alibaba and its finance affiliate, Ant Financial, are in talks to lead a round of at least US$1 billion into, one of China’s leading food delivery startups. The financing from Alibaba and Ant Financial will value at $5.5 billion to $6 billion and help it compete with a rival service backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Once completed, the deal would mark the country’s second-largest startup fundraising effort so far in 2017, surpassed only by ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing’s $5.5 billion round.

While meal-delivery businesses around the world have struggled for profits, China’s two largest Internet companies see on-demand services as a way to promote their lucrative online payments services. Growth in domestic food and restaurant transactions also outstrips many other retail segments in the world’s second largest economy.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Travel app Camboticket raises seed round

The ticket booking app received a US$100,000 investment from Obor Capital. Cambodia’s relatively small population means venture capital is scarce. It doesn’t present a huge market potential on its own. This has made entrepreneurs self-reliant, and sometimes forces them to wear multiple hats.

Founded in 2014, Camboticket sells tickets for buses, private taxis, and ferries for inter-city travellers within Cambodia and cross-border trips to and from neighboring countries, like Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. It claims to sell an average of 6,000 seats a month.

Ticket sales aren’t its only source of revenue. Camboticket offers booking software for transportation companies to manage their operations and distribute seat inventory.

The startup is Obor’s first tech investment. It doubles as a test bed for the VC to explore opportunities beyond traditional investment sectors.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Community Chatter: Magellan Financial Group chief executive Hamish Douglass calls Uber a Ponzi scheme 

Speaking to Fairfax Media at a financial conference in Sydney, Magellan Financial Group chief executive Hamish Douglass slammed the ride-sharing giant as “one of the stupidest businesses in history”.

“The probability of this business not going bankrupt in a decade is like 1 per cent,” Mr Magellan said, describing the company’s high-cost, owner-driver model as almost “valueless”.


Read the rest of the story here.


Here’s what you should know today.

1. Government push: Singapore plans to spend $1.7b this year in contracts for Smart Nation apps

The Singapore government plans to dedicate US$1.7 billion to work with the private sector in financial year 2017, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has announced.

The government will work with industry vendors, including small businesses and startups, to develop technologies in data analytics and sensors as well as communications infrastructure that will connect internet-of-things sensor networks with data centers.

The Smart Nation Sensor Platform is a particular focus – a sensor network that covers the entire island and enables connectivity, data and video analytics, and data sharing between different government agencies.

This is another initiative taken as part of Singapore’s push to improve its nation’s technology advancement.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Klinify raises investment from Zuellig Pharma, aims to become “one-stop shop” for doctors

Singapore-based clinic management solutions Klinify announced on Wednesday that it has raised an undisclosed investment from healthcare services provider Zuellig Pharma.

Klinify plans to use the new funding for regional expansion and product development.

Through the partnership with Zuellig Pharma, Klinify has already entered the Malaysian market where it said to have been adopted by group practices with 22 clinics in the country. It is looking to expand across Asia, from Thailand, Cambodia to Taiwan.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: 9 trends in last mile delivery

Carriers are bringing single packages to low density areas, and often the resident isn’t home. Yet customers are demanding faster and cheaper deliveries.

“We’re noticing a huge push and pressure on the fulfillment side to get orders turned around on a much faster scale and pace than a lot of the technology is capable of doing today,” says Michael Armanious, vice president of sales and marketing at Datexcorp, a third-party logistics (3PL) management and warehouse solutions provider.

What normally would have taken less than an hour, all of the sudden needs to go out within minutes, which poses challenges in terms of planning.

Faster fulfillment, the evolvement of postal services and insourcing deliveries are a few key trends in last mile delivery this year.

Read the rest of the story here.


Beauty is undeniably a big industry but within the sector, the hundreds of well-loved brands are owned by only seven global conglomerates. These household names range from Unilever, L’Oréal to Estée Lauder.

The 182 beauty companies contribute heavily to a beauty market worth $63 billion in the US alone and responsible for shaping consumer ideas about modern day beauty. The US and China alone will account for 54% of the premium beauty segment by 2021.

The chart, illustrated by Business Insider, shows how interconnected beauty brands really are and which houses are most prominent. Below are a few that stand out:

L’Oréal’s footprint

L’Oréal had the most brands on this list – a total of 39 beauty brands ranging from Maybelline to Kiehl’s.

It was estimated that L’Oréal made $27.6 billion in annual beauty sales in 2016. What factors attribute to its success? The company’s ecommerce sales rose by 33% year on year in 2016 and 30% of its media spend was on digital.

For the company, ecommerce isn’t only a peripheral revenue stream, but the new growth engine.

La Roche Posay, a skincare brand under L’Oréal, also has a marketplace presence in Thailand through a flagship shop-in-shop on Lazada.

La Roche Posay flagship store, Thailand

Beyond Thailand, Johnson & Johnson in the Philippines recently launched an official flagship store for its brands, Aveeno and Neutrogena, on Lazada to take advantage of the marketplace’s high traffic.

“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it becomes the new cake,” says Jean-Paul Agon, CEO of L’Oreal Group.

Selling online also helps L’Oreal cut costs,

“With traditional channels, there’s counters, samples and purity materials, when we do ecommerce, the cost is lower,” says Agon.

Unilever’s footprint

Unilever has 38 sub-brands under its management, and many are drugstore staples such as Vaseline and Sunsilk. The company reportedly made $22.3 billion from beauty sales last year.

The FMCG giant announced a partnership with Lazada earlier this year to collaborate on supply chain, fulfillment, data, marketing and social commerce. As Lazada saw a 181% growth surge in one year in its FMCG category, Unilever is looking to grab a large piece of the pie.

Unilever’s digital strategy in Southeast Asia reflects the company’s global ambitions,

“It’s important to change business models, to be inspired by startups, because the model of the past is not the model of the future,” says Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever Global.

Unilever Thailand unveiled a flagship store on Lazada earlier this year, selling ten of its most popular brands on the marketplace.

Unilever, Lazada Thailand

Johnson & Johnson’s footprint

Johnson & Johnson is responsible for nine beauty brands on the list – relatively small compared to the others but what it lacks in quantity, it’s well-known brands make up in popularity among users. Aveeno and Neutrogena are household staples for body and hair care.

The J&J brands can easily be found on the shelf of US drugstore chains such as Rite Aid, and as equally easily across the globe in a department store in Singapore or Bangkok. Offline footprint aside, consumers can also find a lot of these brands online – especially in China.

“Ecommerce is becoming a strategic imperative to winning baby,” says Christina Lu, VP Marketing for consumer personal care, Johnson & Johnson. In China, 15% of baby skincare sales come from ecommerce.

The group is also doubling down on an online strategy in Southeast Asia.

Aveeno flagship store, Lazada Philippines

Estée Lauder’s footprint

The company has reached $1 billion mark in yearly ecommerce sales, with online being Estée Lauder’s fastest growth channel.

“New experiences and innovative high quality products and services, which will encompass digital marketing, disruptive in-store merchandising, compelling creativity and omni-channel offerings is a priority for enhancing the customer engagement experience,” says Fabrizio Freda, CEO of Estée Lauder.

Brands under Estée Lauder, such as Bobbi Brown and MAC leverage from being global powerhouses, and solidify their presence in countries such as Thailand by launching

Bobbi Brown Thailand

Why are these beauty brands so successful?

In 2016, global brands such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal maintained a strong foothold in Thailand even as the market saw a rise in local beauty brands. According to Euromonitor, beauty brands have experienced a faster growth rate in 2016 because of aggressive digital marketing strategies via: 

  • Online content
  • Different purchasing incentives such as click-and-collect
  • Free delivery with online purchases.

What this research shows is the importance of a digital strategy – not many brands have the capability of breaking into markets without a long term online play.

Interested in reading more on beauty? Check out eIQ’s BeautyIQ Series, where we cover different aspects of building a successful beauty brand in a digital age.

The original infographic was published on Business Insider, access the article here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Indonesia’s second largest telco shuts down its ecommerce site

Indosat Ooredoo, Indonesia’s second largest telco by revenue, says it’s shutting down its ecommerce site Cipika.

It’s part of the telco’s shift in strategy away from launching new business units in-house. Instead, it’s collaborating with experienced partners and focusing on core strengths.

“B2C ecommerce will take a long time to reach profitability,” said Prashant Gokarn, chief strategy and digital services officer at Indosat Ooredoo.

The telco’s support of the SB Isat fund and startup accelerator Ideabox, which launched late 2013, is part of the shift to turn outward for innovation. Moving forward, Indosat Ooredoo is re-focusing on its core strengths, which lies in its consumer base and distribution network.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Warby Parker’s new app lets you skip the eye doctor

Warby Parker wants to get you the right prescription glasses without forcing you to get an in-person eye test. It’s now testing its new Prescription Check app that uses your phone and computer in tandem to administer a 20-minute series of eye tests, which are then reviewed by a doctor who makes the final call on your prescription.

This could let Warby Parker sell people prescription glasses on impulse rather than hoping customers come back once they get their prescription the old-fashioned way.

For now, Warby Parker says only people between the ages of 18 and 40 in California, Florida, New York and Virginia who already have Warby Parker glasses are eligible for the test.

Without Prescription Check, Warby Parker users had to either find a doctor on their own to get a prescription, or come in to one of the startup’s roughly 50 retail locations that are mostly just in big cities.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Facebook signs BuzzFeed, Vox, others for original video shows

Facebook Inc has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to make shows for its upcoming video service.

Facebook is planning two tiers of video entertainment: scripted shows with episodes lasting 20 to 30 minutes, which it will own; and shorter scripted and unscripted shows with episodes lasting about 5 to 10 minutes, which Facebook will not own.

Facebook’s move to acquire and license original content is the latest in its push to attract more advertising dollars, putting the company in head-to-head competition with Alphabet Inc’s YouTube Red, Snapchat’s Discover feature, and traditional television networks.

For the second tier of shorter shows, Facebook will pay $10,000 to $35,000 for each show and give creators 55 percent of revenue from ads, the sources said.

Read the rest of the story here,



Here’s what you should know today.

1. Australian mobile ads startup raises $23m for expansion to Asia

Melbourne-based mobile ads startup Unlockd has just closed a series B funding round worth US$23 million. It aims to use the money to tap the potential it sees in Asian markets.

Unlockd highlights Asia-Pacific as being a key growth area for its business. Quoting data from the GSM Association, the release says that there are currently more than 2.5 billion unique mobile subscribers throughout the region. That figure is predicted to rise to 3.1 billion by 2020, with a penetration rate of 74 percent.

The company’s twist on the mobile advertising segment includes novel approaches such as ads that appear onscreen when mobile users unlock their devices, or offers in return for watching ads.

Read the rest of the story here.


2.The world’s largest retailers 2017: Amazon & Alibaba are closing in on Wal-Mart

Amazon is now the world’s third-largest retailer and ranks No. 83rd on Forbes’ Global 2000 list of the world’s biggest and most powerful public companies, as measured by a composite score of revenues, profits, assets and market value.

Wal-Mart (No. 17) and CVS (No. 66) are still the two largest retailers on the planet, but Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba (No. 140) isn’t far behind in sixth place. Jack Ma’s empire is the only foreign retailer to appear in the top ten and has leapfrogged Target (No. 227).

Times are tough for traditional retailers with sprawling physical footprints, with stores like Payless and American Apparel forced to declare bankruptcy.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: The ugly problem of pretty packaging

Brands like Glossier and Net-a-Porter are heavily invested in beautifying ecommerce, providing shoppers with brightly covered boxes, ribbons, and other cutesy delights that make the purchase feel extra special.

But at what expense do these extras come? And is any of it even worth it if it ends up in the trash 20 seconds later?

“We understand there’s value in the ‘unboxing experience.’ It’s easy to see why it’s such a big component of the marketing strategies for most retailers. People eat it up,” Brendon Babenzien, design director of Supreme writes. “The whole thing lasts a maximum of 2-3 minutes. That’s a lot of waste for what is essentially a mini dose of drugs, a transient feeling that what we just bought, or the company we bought it from, is somehow superior.”

According to him, the current rate at which brands operate with packaging waste is “completely irresponsible.”

That’s something worth thinking about.

Read the rest of the story here.