FMCG businesses are taking note of the correlation between mobile data consumption slipping sales growth as some of India’s largest consumer companies have slipped to a two-year low. Indians can buy mini-data plans at the same mom and pop stores where they buy their snacks and a new wave of affordable smartphones has brought hundreds of millions of Indians online for the first time, reports the Wall Street Journal.

We are competing for the consumer’s wallet not just with beverages and other impulse categories, but also with data services on phones. – Venkatesh Kini, President of Coca-Cola India.

With low disposable income, the majority of Indians face difficulties affording monthly data plans and only get online when they have spare change. For a quick glance  on Google, Vodafone Group PLC offers data plans for as little as  15 cents at a time, around the same price as a bag of crisps.

Anup Kapoor, who runs a mom and pop store says that data and voice plans make up for 70% of his daily sales.

The battle for limited space in India’s tiny storefronts is competitive. Cellular companies sponsor sings to make sure customers know that their local mom and pop shops offer more than candy. Kapoor’s shop has a big sign of Vodafone, while posters of Frito-Lay chips and Coca-Cola are smaller.

I can do without conditioner. But I can’t do anything without my phone, I can’t hear songs, surf the net or chat with friends,” says Lakshmi Kumari, domestic worker. 

A version of this appeared in Wall Street Journal on August 15. Read the full version here.

Indonesia’s cashback mobile application has launched in the Philippines. Filipino shoppers can now get cashback for buying groceries at their usual convenience stores through the Snapcart platform. The company has been recognized by Accenture and Omnicom Media as one of the best startups in Asia.

How does Snapcart work?

Users can simply snap their grocery receipts from any retail establishments, for example, popular department store Robinsons or 7/11. They can then upload the receipt onto the Snapcart application and get cashback as much as 10-20% on items bought under offer. This could mean that a shopper gets $2 back for a $10 lip gloss purchase from a brand partner.  Currently, Snapcart is promoting more than 200 items on offer.

In Indonesia, Snapcart’s home turf, the app had 500,000 downloads in less than 10 months. Currently, it has over 75 brands providing cashback to their shoppers.

Snapcart Interface

Snapcart’s value for brands

It’s not only shoppers that get something out of the app. Information from users’ receipts go back to the startup’s database where it is compiled and used to provide clients with valuable insights on consumer spending.

For brands and enterprises, Snapcart provides real time market intelligence and consumer data on how shoppers consume and interact with different brands. The app is able to engage the audience, measure brand KPIs and predict return on investments. This is something that Snapcart can provide more efficiently over market research studies, as the app gets real time, real access to user data.

Why choose the Philippines?

Similarly to Indonesia, Philippines has a digitally savvy population, where smartphone penetration is at 40% and growing rapidly, with the potential to double by 2018.

Like Indonesia, modern retail is a fast growing segment. Snapcart’s downloads in the first few days is already set to match, if not surpass Indonesia. – Teresa Condicion, Snapcart’s Co-Founder and Snapcart Philippines’ Country Manager.

Southeast Asia loves to snack.

According to insights from Nielsen, Filipino consumers enjoy snacking so much, 74% view it as a source of nutrition. Consumers continuously look for snacks which offer health benefits, but are also looking for an occasional treat.

In contrast, Indonesians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and Vietnamese rank enjoyment as the foremost reason for snacking, while eight out of 10 Thai consumers (79%) snack to satisfy a craving.

Filipino respondents to the Nielsen survey choose from a wide variety of snacks, preferring bread above others, followed by fruit and chocolate. Filipino consumers also exhibit characteristics of spontaneous snackers, including trying new snacks, buying a variety of snacks, and making unplanned snack purchases. Spontaneous snackers often eat snacks as soon as they buy them and tend to buy snacks at the check-out counter.

This kind of consumption trend makes Philippines an ideal location for Snapcart – the cashback would benefit consumers greatly and a wide array of different consumer behaviors and insights collected from shopping habits in grocery stores would allow brands to better serve them.

Chinese based third-party payment platform WeChat Pay’s mobile payment has rolled out its “No Cash Day” campaign this week to boost mobile payment rates, reports China Daily.

From August 1-7, the first payment made of the day by WeChat Pay’s users to any offline store (with a WeChat partnership), could have rewarded the user with a random cash prize up to $133 dollars (888 yuan).

When users use WeChat Pay to make payments on August 8, they can spend the accumulated money rewarded to them over the previous seven days. In addition to this, they have the opportunity to get a direct discount on payments.

WeChat Pay’s main rival, Alibaba’s Alipay, plans to spend over $15 million (100 million yuan) on rewarding its users.

From July 20 to Octover 31, Alipay’s users can receive a direct discount of less than $150 dollars (999 yuan) every time they use Alipay to make payments to offline stores.

Both of the offline mobile payment initiatives by WeChat Pay and Alipay were launched last year.

The number of offline stores cooperating with WeChat Pay in its campaign increased from 80,000 last year to 700,000 this year, following 2015’s success.

China’s third-party mobile payment market scale is experiencing a year on year increase of 111%, according to Chinese research firm Analysys.

The firm still cites Alipay as the leader in the mobile payment market, occupying 63.41% of the marketshare in Q1 this year, while Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Tenpay takes 23% of the market share.

WeChat Pay is an in-app payment feature of Tencent’s WeChat, which means it was launched by both companies in 2013. Its earnings contributed 84% of Tenpay’s mobile payment market share in Q1 this year.

The generalization of no cash payments was originally boosted by WeChat Pay, according to a report by During the Spring Festival of 2013, WeChat Pay successfully used the Chinese tradition of sending red envelopes containing money as blessings to promote mobile payments to the masses.

WeChat targets those aged 23-29 years, as they are the main force for driving mobile payment in China.

A version of this appeared in China Daily on August 8. Read the full version here.

Singaporean e-marketplace Carousell, announced a $35 million in series B funding today. The investment is lead by Rakuten Ventures, with Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures, and 500 Startups also contributing some of the cash.

The Singapore-based team has already taken the app, which blends new and used items sort of like a classified listings site except that it’s all done in a streamlined mobile app, to six other locations. The latest is Hong Kong.

“A big part of this round will be just accelerating our international expansion,” says Siu Rui Quek, Carousell’s CEO, speaking over Skype from the startup’s HQ.

Carousell’s birth story

From the way Siu Rui Quek describes it, you know his startup hasn’t produced the usual kind of shopping app. He talks of the community, of users staying up well past midnight browsing the new stuff that flies in, of people using it each day for even longer than Instagram. He doesn’t compare it to Amazon.

The three co-founders set up Carousell in 2012, but its genesis goes back a year earlier to when the friends went to Silicon Valley to serve as tech interns while squeezing in some classes at Stanford.

Once back in Singapore, they went to a Startup Weekend event and came up with the bare bones of what would later become the shopping app based on issues they themselves faced when trying to sell odds-and-ends on the web. The trio won the event, but that wasn’t what persuaded them to build it into a business, Siu Rui says.

“The biggest motivation was having people tweet us, like our Facebook page, saying they really want to use this for themselves. So that really gave us the confidence to take it forward.”

Now with 35 million product listings put up by its community, the team is coy about revealing the number of active users. Siu Rui concedes it’s not pulling in a profit, but that’s because the crew is focusing on growing its user base rather than implementing some things they have in mind, like premium listings or some other paid services.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 2. Read full story here

Mobile-first shopping and fashion discovery app, Goxip is in the midst of raising another round of funding to boost their growth in Southeast Asia. The app targets over a million downloads in 2016, both from its home market Hong Kong and the newly launched market, Malaysia. The next funding will be notably larger as the company plans to launches a marketplace and expanding to a new market.

Earlier this year, Goxip raised a seed round of $1.6 million, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, but the team anticipates the cash run to shorten as their growth speeds up.

“Our next phase is to develop a marketplace and execute that in the next two months, or less. We are looking to partner with local designers and retailers as well,” Juliette Gimenez, Goxip CEO and co-founder said during a press conference. “We don’t have a fixed runway for what we raised, but we may be utilising the funds to grow faster than we originally expected.”

Goxip is Raising Fund to Build a Marketplace


Goxip Marketplace

Goxip’s marketplace will be built for merchants and individuals to run their own online stores. They have also been eyeing Thailand and Indonesia as potentially new markets, but the team said 2016 will largely focus on growing its business in Hong Kong and Malaysia. The team is also aggressively hiring to pull off its growth plans.

The Hong Kong-based startup announced a $1.62 million seed funding in May, led by first-time tech startup investor, and socialite entrepreneur Chryseis Tan who committed $1.5 million for a 30% stake in the startup. Another $120,000 was contributed by Ardent Capital, which has a track record investing in ecommerce platforms around the region.

Chryseis Tan is also the daughter of Malaysian tycoon, Vincent Tan, who owns the conglomerate Berjaya Group operating various businesses in food and beverage, retail, automotive, property and gaming, has been a key mentor to the Goxip team.

A version of this first appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 28. Read the full article here

Popular, but media shy Indonesia mobile ecommerce platform Sale Stock has launched a partnership with messenger platform Line, reports e27.

Aside from announcing the partnership, the companies also introduced two new features; credit card payment system and an AR-based ‘changing room’.

Sale Stock was also the first in Indonesia to implement a one-on-one chat feature to shop.

The partnership aims to leverage from Sale Stock customers’ preference to chat and shop. Line’s user profile (45% female) are seen as the perfect target audience to support this strategy. The shopping culture in Indonesia is characterized by three distinctive features:

  1. Heavy use of cash and bank transfer (only 1.4% of Indonesians own a credit card)
  2. Use of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook for SMEs as a channel to promote products
  3. The use of chat apps provides direct interaction with customers

In general, Southeast Asia is seeing a rise in the use of chatbots as a means for brands to interact closely with their audiences, as Southeast Asian customers are generally more comfortable communicating with customer service officers through messaging rather than self-browsing.

The AR-based ‘changing room’ function will be installed in various shopping mall across Jakarta. This function will allow users to try on available clothes on the Sale Stock platform, and purchase it directly from the machine installed at the mall.

Sale Stock is listed among the fastest growing ecommerce startups in Indonesia. The company provides imported, local and in-house fast fashion collections for women.

 A version of this appeared in e27 on July 27. Read the full version here.