Here’s what you should know today.

1. Alibaba spending $1b to boost Lazada stake to 83%

Jack Ma’s Alibaba is hiking its stake in prominent Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada to 83% for roughly $1 billion.

The fresh infusion comes a little more than a year after the Chinese ecommerce behemoth snapped up a controlling 51 percent stake in Lazada for the same amount, bringing its total investment so far to over $2 billion.

Lazada will continue to operate under the same brand following the investment.

Lazada gives Alibaba a door into a nascent but populous market amid slowing growth and increasing competition, largely from JD, in China.

Ma previously gave a tall order of generating at least 50% of the group’s revenue from overseas. Lazada’s acquisition was a big step in that direction.

“The ecommerce markets in the region are still relatively untapped, and we see a very positive upward trajectory ahead of us,” Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said in today’s press statement on the additional purchase.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Alibaba-supported logistic firm files for IPO in the US

Chinese delivery firm Best Inc, backed by ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has filed for an initial public offering in the US.

Best’s biggest business line by revenue is its express-delivery unit, followed by its freight-delivery division and supply-chain management services.

Alibaba, whose 23% stake makes it the biggest existing shareholder, accounted for about 70%  of Best’s express deliveries in the three months through March.

Best posted a net loss of US$198.1 million on revenue of US$1.28 billion last year. The company warned that it expects costs to continue to increase, extending its trend of net losses. Best plans to use the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Net-a-Porter owner opens tech hub in London

The owner of the Net-a-Porter luxury fashion website is to hire at least 100 more IT experts over the next two years as it shrugs off the impact of the Brexit vote to open a tech hub in the UK.

Yoox Net-a-Porter, the Milan-listed parent group, plans to invest more than €500m (£440m) in technology, warehouses and delivery systems in London and elsewhere to double the size of the business by 2020.

With a turnover of nearly €2bn, about half from orders made via mobile phones, YNAP is the world’s biggest online luxury fashion retailer. Shares in the group jumped more than 8% on Monday amid rumours that Alibaba, the giant Chinese internet marketplace, was considering buying a stake.

The two companies had merged their different cultures well and had shown they were able to sell $130,000 (£100,000)-plus watches via Whatsapp or a £35,000 Valentino dress via a mobile phone.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

 

 

There are 854 million mobile subscriptions across the region – more phones than people. So does this mean that all businesses should have a mobile app?

Not necessarily. Despite the everyday use of a phone, a mobile app is only suitable for a handful of verticals, like fashion and electronics because of their ‘discovery potential’ and purchase frequency.

Source: Deloitte

A mobile app is also used for proximity marketing or to send out push notifications. For example, a business could target users with ‘location finder’ enabled on their phone, send a message to offer a discount at their nearest offline location, and increase foot traffic offline.

If a business can benefit from a mobile app, below are some pointers to know before building.

Native vs. Hybrid. What’s the main difference?

Native apps are built separately for either iOS or Android devices.

Hybrid apps are built on one framework that can be used for both iOS or Android devices.

Choosing one or the other is vital to a business’s performance depending on its goals. eIQ talks to Mandy Arbilo, Regional Project Manager at aCommerce, Southeast Asia’s leading ecommerce service provider, to find out the key features and differences between native and hybrid apps.

Native Apps

Time to build: 3-4 months per platform (iOS or Android)

Cost: $30,000-35,000 per app

Good if you need: Integration with third party applications such as Google Maps, including payment platforms such as Samsung pay, Android pay or Apple pay. Also recommended if the business requires functions such as store finder or a directory, as they are more accurate when integrated into a native app.

To note: Some brands are building an iOS app first to target the more affluent Apple device users that typically spend 2.5x more on in-app purchases than Android users. But if the aim to reach a wider demographic, building an Android app will be more effective in Southeast Asia.

Source: Deloitte

Native App Advantages

  • Faster, more responsive and reliable user experience than Hybrid
  • Allows push notifications to alert users when attention is needed in the app, this experience cannot be replicated in a Hybrid app.
  • Better integration to leverage device functionality i.e. camera, microphone and swipe functions
  • Native apps work with the mobile device’s built in features, so they are easier to work with and perform better on the device.

Native App Disadvantages

  • Dedicated developer to manage a codebase for each platform because iOS apps will not run on Android and vice versa
  • More expensive to build as brands would have to build two. Costs for maintenance can also be high.
  • Have to submit their app into the App store/Google Play store

Examples of Native apps:

  • Pokemon Go – Mobile game
  • Season – Thailand e-marketplace (mobile only)
  • Pomelo – Fashion brand

Hybrid Apps

Time to build: 3 months

Cost: $30,000 per app

Good if you need: Relatively affordable price to start your business and deploy an app into the hands of more customers as soon as possible. A hybrid is an MVP; a minimum value product and is a good cost-effective solution for brands that would like to target both Android and iOS users but are short on resources.

To note: The best way to explain a hybrid app is that it’s a fusion of a native app and a web app.

Users install a hybrid app like they would with a native, but it is actually a browser bundled inside the app. A hybrid app allows you to add new functionalities to both versions of your app through one codebase.

The process is similar to building a simple, responsive website.

The speed of your hybrid will depend on the user’s internet browser speed whereas native apps are less dependent on internet connection to work.

Hybrid Advantages

  • Development for hybrid apps are often less expensive than native app development
  • Hybrid apps are easier to scale onto another platform such as a Windows Mobile
  • Saves time and money because the one base requires less maintenance but the speed of the app will depend on the user’s internet browser speed

Hybrid Disadvantages

  • Performance is the hybrid app’s biggest setback because hybrid apps load in a browser like function called webview and are therefore only as good as the webview.

The webview is responsible for displaying the UI and running javascript. Google and Apple did not give webview the same engines used by their mobile browsers, Chrome and Safari, and therefore hybrids have not reached the level of a Native app’s performance.

  • The hybrid app needs to be tested on each platform to ensure it is properly responding as it has less access to the device’s functionalities
  • The UX of the app will suffer because the app’s components can not be customized to suit the behaviors of Apple or Android users exclusively.

“By building a hybrid app, you won’t be able to please both camps. Try too hard to customize the app based on the platform and it may end up costing the same as two native apps,” says Mandy.

Examples of Hybrid Apps

However, the following examples show that a hybrid app can be high functioning too (thanks HTML5).

  • Evernote
  • Amazon App Store
  • Uber
  • Instagram

Uber app

The final verdict?

“If you were to build an ecommerce app, or deploy a functionable platform with a decent sized budget, it’s advisable to go with a native application because of its high performance, integration with third party applications such as Google Maps app, and offline capabilities” says Mandy.

For those with smaller budgets, build a hybrid app first to test traction and if it shows potential for scale, dedicate resources into a native app. Facebook did it.

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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Facebook now has 2 billion monthly users

We’re getting to a size where it’s worth really taking a careful look at what are all the things that we can do to make social media the most positive force for good possible,” said Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox.

Two billion makes Facebook the largest social app in terms of logged-in users, above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.

Facebook’s growth the last half decade has been fueled by the developing world. The company has relentlessly optimized its app for cheap Android smartphones and low-bandwidth connections.

It’s added 746 million users in Asia and the Rest of World region since hitting 1 billion users total.

However, there has been some ramifications from Facebook’s road to success.

There are the big, newsy things like suicides on Facebook Live and fears that fake news got Donald Trump elected. But deeper down, there are even more complex ramifications of a near ubiquitous social network.

It can propel internet addiction that alienates people, and facilitate the filter bubbles that polarize society by reinforcing our opinions. Facebook has largely conquered its competitors, giving it the slack to finally address the modern sociological challenges that stem from its popularity.

What are your thoughts?

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Singapore fintech startup CredoLab raises over $1M to help unbanked consumers manage their credit

CredoLab said that the newly-raised capital — twice the amount it originally intended to raise — will be used to ramp up its product offerings and expand its operations to serve the underbanked population.

founded in 2016, CredoLab offers a credit assessment mobile app called CredoApp. This software tracks the “anonymised digital footprints”  of consumers and leverages on predictive analytics to generate their digital credit scorecards.

This solution is particularly useful in emerging market such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, where there is a significant unbanked demographic with no credit history.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Mastercard offering merchants new payment tools

Mastercard Developers has released several new APIs (application program interfaces) to give merchants and other companies access to more than 40 proprietary products and services to enable payments on new platforms.

For example, the Masterpass Chatbot API is being used by FreshDirect, Subway and The Cheesecake Factory in the US to create payment-enabling chat bots on Facebook Messenger.

The mission with these efforts is to allow merchants to support new payment methods “without having to reinvent the wheel,” said Oran Cummins, senior vice president for APIs with Mastercard Developers.

Other new applications include one allowing merchants to accept cashless payments from their customers’ smartphones by scanning a Masterpass QR code.

The latest effort from Mastercard shows that the payments provider is set on scaling its services and pushing the envelopes of commerce, as well as providing innovative solutions for merchants.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Google is slapped with $2.7 billion antitrust fine by EU 

The European Commission – the European Union’s top administrative body and antitrust regulator – has fined Google US$2.73 billion for anti-competitive business practices.

The Commission found that the US company’s web search function gave undue prominence to its own price comparison service in search results.

The Commission has demanded that Google end this conduct within 90 days, or face additional penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily global turnover of its parent company Alphabet.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Indonesian ecommerce site Alfacart drops third-party sellers

Alfacart, the ecommerce endeavor of major Indonesian mini market and convenience store chain Alfamart, is changing its business model. As a result, Alfacart’s entire C-level management will resign.

What’s certain is that Alfacart will no longer operate as a marketplace after the change. It will only sell products already available in Alfamart’s own product assortment. That’s mainly groceries and everyday household items.

Mini markets work well in Indonesia. Growth of such retail locations is outpacing that of larger stores, according to rating agency Fitch.

Indonesia Stock Exchange-listed Alfamart operates more than 12,000 stores (link in Indonesian) across Indonesia and the Philippines.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Online accounted for over 17% of China’s total retail sales Jan-May 2017

China’s total retail sales of consumer goods reached 2,945.9 $430.8 billion in May, up by 10.7% YoY. Online retail accounted for over 17% of total retail sales from January to May.

The retail sales of consumer goods in China’s urban areas was 2,536.0 billion yuan in May 2017, up by 10.4% YoY while that in rural areas was 409.9 billion yuan, up by 12.7% YoY.

 Of the online retail sales of physical goods, food, clothing and other commodities went up by 21.5%, 20.6%, and 29.2% respectively.

This puts China’s ecommerce market and potential at a much more developed landscape than other Asian countries, namely Southeast Asia’s developing markets. Brands in China have potential to capture a nationwide audience of both urban and rural shoppers who are discovering brands on WeChat and Tmall, whilst also being very receptive to online payment platforms.It seems that ecommerce in China can only get bigger in size and value.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Airbnb’s Chinese rival Tujia widens the war to Asia

Airbnb is doubling down on China this year, where it has been slow to expand. But it faces a strong rival there, Chinese unicorn Tujia which lists over 400,000 properties.

There’s also the convenience of integration with Chinese mobile payment systems like Alipay and WeChat Pay. For example, almost one-third of Thailand’s foreign tourism revenue came from Chinese travelers last year, and WeChat Pay has partnered with banks and mobile payment services in Thailand to make local shopping convenient for its users.

These regional markets are where Tujia feels it will have an edge in competing with Airbnb. It is building up teams in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. And it has already signed up nearly 40,000 properties outside China.

This also opens up many opportunities for Southeast Asian markets to explore payment integrations, services and more to serve the influx of Chinese visitors.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Malaysia officially launches digital free trade zone

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak officially launched the country’s Digital Free Trade Zone at the Global Transformation Forum 2017.

A major goal of the DFTZ is to become an ecommerce hub, in which SMEs and startups can build regional fulfilment centres (as Alibaba plans to do in the near future).

The Prime Minister spoke about a need for Malaysia to embrace ecommerce. To facilitate development, the government will reduce tariffs on goods priced over $112. Najib said wants to make sure the cost of fixed broadband is cut in half and internet speed is doubled by the end of the year.

In conjunction with ‘strategic partners’, Catcha Group will be the master developer, and a main investor, in a project called Kuala Lumpur Internet City (KLIC).

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Yoox Net-a-Porter shares jump on Alibaba interest

Shares in Yoox Net-A-Porter were up almost 8 percent on Monday as traders cited reported interest from Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group.

“There are reports Alibaba is interested in buying a stake in Yoox,” one of the traders said.

A report on Chinese fashion website Ladymax.cn said the Chinese conglomerate had contacted Yoox Net-a-Porter over capital cooperation, adding it did not rule out buying shares in it.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Jeff Bezos says Amazon will ‘keep investing’ in India as rivals raise new war chests

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has pledged to continue to invest in India as it bids to keep pace with rivals in the country that have landed large investments from big name backers.

 The prize on offer is a slice of one of the world’s fastest growing internet markets. India’s online population is tipped to reach 450 million-465 million people by June 2017, according to a report co-authored by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, thereby widening the audience of ecommerce customers.

Jeff Bezos’s tweet from earlier today

Bezos went public with his continued commitment to the country in a tweet that followed a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington.
Read the rest of the story here.

2. Tesco launches one-hour grocery deliveries in London

UK supermarket chain Tesco has announced the launch today of a one-hour delivery service in central London called Tesco Now — echoing Amazon’s Prime Now delivery branding.

As well as a one hour delivery service (priced at £7.99), Tesco is offering a two-hour option (for £5.99) via the new Tesco Now Android or iOS app.  The supermarket chain already offered a same day delivery service in London and the South East, and a same day ‘click and collect’ option.

While Tesco staff will do the in-store picking, the delivery component of the service is being taken care of by UK startup Quiqup, which last month raised a £20M Series B round to grow its “shop on your behalf” app and b2b business.
Read the rest of the story here.

3. Recommended Reading: Dang Chang thinks he’s got the secret sauce for his delivery startup

Chang thinks the key to mastering food delivery without a storefront to lure in passersby is making delicious meals that people love. “If we can just make good food and get it to them fast, I think that’s the name of the game,” he says.

Even though on-demand lunch and dinner services are, at their core, food services, many have been the brainchildren of engineers and businessmen—”tech people,” as Chang calls them. These are people who don’t have experience in hospitality and team up with chefs to design a menu, but don’t necessarily value their ability to run a restaurant.

Read the rest of the story here.