New funding, new Jack Ma comment on Indonesia and a few concerns surrounding Single’s Day. Here are the morning ecommerce headlines that you should know:

1. Helpster, startup connecting blue-collar workers with temp jobs, raises $2.1 million in seed funding 

Indonesia’s Convergence Ventures led the round with Wavemaker Partners and other investors participating. Helpster sorts through applicants who fill in data through the app. It then matches them to companies looking for help. Businesses can range from food and beverage to hospitality, events, and logistics.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Jack Ma not giving up on Indonesia 

“I never say no,” Ma told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of Alibaba’s Singles Day or the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, dubbed the world’s biggest ecommerce event, in Shenzhen, China, on Friday evening. Indonesian Information and Communications Minister Rudiantara recently said Indonesia had “lost” to Malaysia in securing Ma as adviser for the country’s ecommerce development plans, adding he had seen pictures of Ma and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in agreement to become the neighboring country’s digital economy adviser.

“We acquired Lazada so that we can be in Indonesia as well as five other Southeast Asian countries […] obviously Indonesia being the largest market.” – Alibaba Group co-founder and vice chairman Joseph Tsai.

Read the rest of the story here

3. A word of caution for ecommerce brands looking to market around Single’s Day

Alexis Lanternier, CEO, Lazada Singapore, said last year, the brand saw an uplift of six times in revenue on key sale dates through Online Revolution – 11 November and 12 December.

Such occasions serve as an opportunity for ecommerce platforms to not only expand their consumer base by spreading awareness about their presence. This helps us gain trust in the highly cluttered market.

Read the rest of the story here

4. Pos Indonesia eyes role as logistical backbone for ecommerce

With ecommerce booming in the country, the government is pushing state-owned postal service PT Pos Indonesia to benefit from this growing industry by providing logistical support for online businesses. Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara says:

“Ecommerce players don’t need to establish their own logistical unit, as they can share a single logistical platform provided by Pos Indonesia.”

Read the rest of the story here

If you’re interested in ecommerce, you might also find these recent reports about online retail helpful.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Thailand, while not the most populous nor richest of the Southeast Asian nations, is currently the fourth largest ecommerce market in the region, valued at $900 million and is expected to increase its ecommerce business 12-fold to a value of $11.1 billion by 2025.

What does the attractive Thai ecommerce market looks like now and what can be expected in the coming years? ecommerceIQ shares ECOMScape: Thailand to provide a quick snapshot.

1. Lazada is the dominating marketplace, while others compete in niches

What differentiates Thailand from other markets in Southeast Asia is that one online marketplace – Lazada – has significantly advanced over its local ecommerce rivals. The traffic of Lazada’s two closest competitors WeLoveShopping.com and Wemall.com combined makes only around a quarter of Lazada’s monthly traffic.

Yet, that and the fact Lazada now has the support of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, is not scaring off competitors. Korean ecommerce marketplace 11street is expected to launch in Thailand in time for campaign season, 11/11, in hopes to replicate its success in Indonesia and Malaysia. The group’s claimed annual gross merchandise value of $7 billion is 7 times bigger than that of Lazada Group, but will it manage to challenge Lazada in Thailand?

Deep pocketed conglomerates are also moving in to steal market share, such as Thai CP Group, which belongs to the richest family in Thailand – brothers Chearavanont, owns Tesco Lotus, Shopat24 and 24Catalog. The second richest man in the country, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, this year bought BigC and Cmart (formerly Cdiscount). While Central Group, the operator of Central department stores and distributor of several tens of foreign brands in Thailand behind which stands the third richest – Chirathivat – family, owns online marketplaces Central.co.th, Robinson and Tops. All of the above mentioned retailers have both – offline and online stores.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Despite Lazada’s dominance, competitors are not easily scared off, especially deep pocketed Thai conglomerates who want their share of etailer online market.

Fashion & Apparel is one of the most competitive online market segments. In Thailand, this category represents a healthy mix of local players like Pomelo and WearYouWant, regional players like Zalora, Reebonz and global brands such as Adidas and Uniqlo.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

The competitive Fashion & Apparel online market in Thailand represents a healthy mix of local, regional and global players.

Brand.com webstores are also gaining traction in Thailand, which is best observed in the beauty category. Brands such as Maybelline, L’OccitaneEstée Lauder and Kiehl’s in Southeast Asia embrace the ecommerce market boom and use the opportunity to sell on their brand web stores, marketplaces or through distributors to capture the widest possible audience.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Beauty brands go all-in in Thailand selling their products online on their own webstores, marketplaces or through distributors.

2. Old school vs new kids on the block compete in C2C

Classifieds and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplaces were the first ‘ecommerce’ businesses to operate and remain an important part of the online journey in Thailand. Three of the most popular C2C marketplaces – WeLoveShopping, Tarad, Pramool – were created around the millennium and are run by local companies. However, newer market entrants like Shopee, supported by Southeast Asia’s largest gaming company Garena, are on their heels.

Tarad and Pramool ecommerce sites can be accessed on desktops, while the newest competitors – Shopee, Blisby, as well as WeloveShopping – all have mobile apps, which rank among the top 10 most popular C2C ecommerce apps in Thailand. Since approximately 85% of online shopping outside the major metro areas in Thailand takes place through mobile, it is easy to see that the new kids on the block are disrupting traditional, desktop-first marketplaces.

3. Social commerce is driven by Facebook, Instagram and LINE

An ecommerce business model specific to Thailand is social commerce – merchants set up ‘shops’ on Facebook and Instagram where they post images and details of their products so online browsers can inquire about the product and other details to further facilitate the deal.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Thailand is the leading country where half of online shoppers buy directly from merchants through social networks.

According to a PwC report, Thailand is the biggest social commerce market and around 50% of online shoppers purchase products through social networks. Therefore it was no surprise when this June, Facebook started testing social commerce payments in Thailand and later in August launched Facebook Shop, the first in the world.

Companies like Shopee are looking to lure merchants selling on social networks to its online marketplace with aggressive marketing by offering easy integration of their Instagram shops and reimbursing shipping, cash on delivery fees to sellers. Other players like LINE also have eyed this market segment. LINE Shop was created to utilize the wide audience of LINE messaging app and tap the social commerce market. Yet technical issues such as a requirement to upload merchant product catalogues on the app through mobile phones, as well as limited payment options through LINE Pay, has hindered the success of LINE Shop.

4. Cash is still king

Thailand is still a cash driven society and cash on delivery (COD) is the preferred payment method for 70% of ecommerce shoppers, making payments a bottleneck for faster ecommerce growth as many sellers cannot offer COD. There are various mobile wallets offered by telecom companies, banks as well as independent players but so far, none of them have quite caught on.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Despite various mobile wallet providers, cash is still the most preferred payment method.

The large unbanked population and low trust in the security of personal financial details does not make the task of Thais adopting digital payments any easier. And though there has been a surge in fintech players, none really address the core issue. For example, LINE Pay accounts can only be linked with a credit card in Thailand, where just  3.7% use one to make payments. Mobile wallets and banks offering a top-up through either ATMs or special kiosks, defeats the purpose of an mwallet. Good news is that there is an opportunity for a player to provide a convenient and easy digital payment solution for those without a bank account and/or credit and debit cards.

5. Fierce competition in logistics leads to price war

The ecommerce gold rush across all Southeast Asia has facilitated growth of startups who hope to solve logistics problems like next-day delivery and live tracking, and Thailand is no exception. The success of ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab has encouraged several startups to offer on-demand delivery services.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

The success of ride-hailing apps has driven several start-ups to offer on-demand delivery.

There are numerous companies who provide 3PL services and ensure a smooth last mile delivery. This means companies engage in price wars and suffer lower margins, if any at all.  

The packed logistics market is beneficial for marketplaces and merchants as they have plenty of delivery service providers with whom to negotiate a lower price.

Thailand Ecommerce Landscape

Numerous companies offer 3PL services and ensure last mile delivery driving down delivery costs for the benefit of marketplaces.

Click here to download the full, high-resolution version of ECOMScape: Thailand and join the ecommerceIQ network for first look at the next ECOMScape in our series.

Check out also ECOMScape: Indonesia

Are we missing any players? Let us know on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

Rocket Internet SE said losses have narrowed at several of its key startups in the second quarter, reports Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Oliver Samwer is seeking to prove he can turn at least three of them into profitable businesses by the end of next year, the company announced today.

Sales rose at clothing retailer Global Fashion Group, food-delivery startup Foodpanda and home-furnishing business Westwing, while adjusted losses before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization narrowed.

Rocket overall lost $692.5 million in the first half of this year.

Analysts have criticized the company’s reporting for a lack of transparency and questioned its ability to wring profitable growth out of companies that operate in commodity sectors in unproven markets.

As Tech in Asia reported, most of Rocket’s troubles were blamed squarely on under performing companies in its Global Fashion Group (GFG), of which Zalora is a part. Rocket reiterated this stance in a statement released today, explaining that “impairments at GFG weighed in on consolidated results.”

But it’s not all bad. Online food delivery startup Foodpanda witnessed a 72% increase in net revenue compared to the corresponding period last year. It announced a gross profit of $23 million, an increase of 72.5%.

“We are on track to meet our profitability targets, with at least three of our key portfolio companies turning profitable until the end of 2017,” adds Oliver Samwer in a statement today.

Rocket climbed 2.7% to 19.69 euros at 9:05 a.m. in Frankfurt, giving the company a market value of 3.3 billion euros.

Versions of this appeared in Bloomberg and Tech in Asia on September 22. Read the rest of the stories here and here.  

Looking for ecommerce jobs in Southeast Asia? We’ve done the work of curating these top 20 jobs in the region for your choosing.

This list is a mix of different ecommerce jobs from a diverse set of startups and tech companies across the region. If you’re interested in any of the jobs listed below, just click to find out more and apply!

Indonesia

Senior Back End Developer | aCommerce | Full-time

Mobile Application Developer | aCommerce | Full-time

QA Developer | aCommerce | Full-time

Front-End Web Developer | Cermati | Full-time

Social Media Executive | Apel X Pir | Full-time

 

Singapore

Brand Ecommerce Senior Manager | aCommerce | Full-time

Warehouse Assistant Manager | aCommerce | Full-time

Business Development Associate | Zillingo | Full-time

Graphic Designer | Glorgo | Full-time

Software Engineer-Web | Carousell | Full-time

 

Malaysia

iOS Developer | eightyeight Solutions | Full-time

Data Scientist | iPrice | Full-time

Senior Product Manager | iPrice | Full-time

SEM Specialist | ShopCoupons | Full-time

 

Philippines

PHP Developer | e27 | Full-time

VP Marketing, Digital Streaming | Tribe | Full-time

 

Thailand

Marketplace Officer | Orami | Full-time

Graphic Designer | Orami | Full-time

Key Account Executive | HappyFresh | Full-time

Technical Program Associate | Lazada | Full-time

Didn’t find what you were looking for? For more ecommerce jobs in Southeast Asia, click here.

Computer vision startup ViSenze has raised series B round of funding worth $10.5 million, reports Tech in Asia.

The round is led by existing investor Rakuten Ventures, Rakuten’s investment arm. It was also co-led by WI Harper Group, which specializes in cross-border investments between the US and China, and early-stage venture capital firm Enspire Capital.

Oliver Tan, ViSenze co-founder and CEO points out how rare it is these days to raise series B, as not a lot of players in Singapore writes these checks.

Oliver attributes investor interest to the startup’s tech and the traction it has achieved in the last couple of years.

It’s one thing to have cool technology, but you also have to show it translates to a product that solves problems and that clients are willing to pay money for.

What does ViSenze do?

ViSenze builds visual search and image recognition software, specializing in ecommerce and retail applications. Its tech combines computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to provide image-based search and item recommendations.

The company’s tech is used by ecommerce providers in several markets like Rakuten, Lazada, British fashion marketplace Asos, Indian fashion e-tailer Myntra and Flipkart.

The company says its revenue has grown more than 300% year on year. Oliver declines to provide specifics, but states that search volume increased tenfold in the last year compared to the previous one.

Funding money put to use

The funding will enable ViSenze to build up its research and development team, in order to increase its scale and capacity to deal with global search volumes.

ViSenze is working toward new applications of its technology, including visual recognition search on video – which is in prototype stage for now.

The team will open more international offices. Headquartered in Singapore, it also has an office in San Francisco. It wants to add London, India, and China to that list. “China is a very different market, our strategy is more driven by partnerships, but our long term goal is to build market presence through local tie-up.”

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on September 15. Read the full version here

Garena, Southeast Asia’s most valuable tech startup, has closed additional funding from three new investors, reports Tech Crunch.

They include: SeaTown Holdings International, an affiliate of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek, Indonesia’s GDP Venture and Mistletoe, a Japan-based fund.

The amount raised was not disclosed, and Singapore-headquartered Garena did not reveal a post-money valuation.

The company’s last valuation was $3.75 billion following a $170 million funding round in March from Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian government’s strategic investment fund, and Chinese tech giant Tencent, a long-term, existing investor.

Garena is best known for the gaming business it started in 2009, which accounts for most of its revenue, but today it also operates a payment service, AirPay and social commerce app, Shopee.

While Garena didn’t elaborate a lot, it did reveal some notable figures for its two newest ventures.

Shopee has reached 1.4 million sellers and annualized GMV of $1.3 billion.

But Shopee’s GMV figure is being calculated using monthly figures rather than an entire year of sales, this means the figures may be somewhat distorted. The same applies to AirPay, which Garena said has an annualized gross transaction value exceeding $510 million, but again, this is an annualized figure.

Regardless, it highlights the fact that Garena is putting its significant weight into social commerce and payments.

The deal will see Taizo Son, the younger brother of SoftBank CEO, and SeaTown’s Archana Parekh join Garena’s advisory board.

A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on September 5. Read the full version here