ECOMScape 2017: Indonesia’s Ever Changing Ecommerce Landscape

Written by: Rara Kinasih on November 17, 2017

As the fastest growing industry in one of the world’s fastest growing markets, the evolution of Southeast Asia’s ecommerce landscape means new players and a lot of consolidation since last year’s first ECOMScape series by ecommerceIQ.

This year’s new edition of the ECOMScapes kicks off with Indonesia.

Expected to capture the biggest chunk of the $200 billion ecommerce opportunity in Southeast Asia, it’s easy to see why Chinese giants like Alibaba, JD, and Tencent have rigorously left their home-market to tackle Indonesia. What has happened over a span of only one year?

1. Chinese Companies are Hungry

Out of the total $3 billion investment put into Indonesia startups in the first eight months of 2017, 94% of the funding came from Chinese investors.

News regarding Alibaba leading a $1.1 billion investment in Tokopedia created excitement in the industry, especially because JD was rumored to also make a bid for the popular local marketplace.

Indonesia startups investment

Although that opportunity passed, it hasn’t stopped JD from participating in the funding round of Indonesia’s two other unicorns, ride-hailing app Go-Jek and online travel booking platform Traveloka. Chinese giant Tencent also joined the round for Go-Jek.

2. Natural Selection: A Race to the Bottom

As the market in Indonesia saturates, in both players and investment, it’s only a matter of time before natural selection weeds out the weaker companies (especially those with shallow pockets).

The past year has seen several ecommerce companies in Indonesia either shutting down or pivoting business models, and investors pulling out before stakes become worthless. And don’t think it’s only happening to the small fish.

Some cases? Alfacart and Elevenia.

Earlier this year, Indonesian convenience store chain Alfacart announced its decision to ditch the marketplace model after a continual lag behind e-marketplaces like Lazada and MatahariMall.

Launched in 2013, Elevenia is the joint venture of telco companies XL Axiata and Korea’s SK Planet. Despite claims that Elevenia has seen positive growth over the years, it’s a telling sign when both companies pull out and sell their stake to Indonesia’s conglomerate group Salim.

Even the ecommerce arm of large telco company Indosat, Cipika, shut down in June citing unprofitable business model and high cash burn rate as reasons.

Indonesia ecommerce landscape

With JD and Alibaba investing directly in local companies, it’s not a stretch to expect fewer names on the ECOMScape next year.

3. Marketplace Competition Heats Up

If this time last year Tokopedia was focused on growing its core C2C business, the Indonesian marketplace has long since been strong arming its shift to B2C as signaled by Unilever’s official store opening on the platform.

The move is already serious competition to Lazada, especially as the two ecommerce companies interchangeably grab the top spot in web traffic in Indonesia (which is probably why Alibaba invested in both companies).

Indonesia’s top C2C players have been moving into the B2C space i.e. Tokopedia. Traffic of ecommerce websites compiled by ecommerceIQ. Find more here.

Sea’s backed Shopee has also opened its platform for brands as it launched Shopee Mall that claimed to offer over 500 brands.

The shift from C2C to B2C is a natural progression as companies attempt to increase revenue and leverage their already large customer bases.

4. Having Fintech is for “Cool Kids” But the Nerds Will Win

While payments still remain a pain point in Indonesia ecommerce even though multiple companies released their own e-wallets last year, the country and the region potentially, might finally have a real solution.

Both Kudo and Kioson are arming micro-entrepreneurs and business owners such as mom-and-pop shops in rural areas with their digital platform to empower them to act as the bridge between ecommerce companies and rural citizens.

The O2O (online-to-offline) concept clearly has some merit, as both companies attracted investor attention and made headlines in 2017. Kudo was acquired by Grab and Kioson raised $3.3 million as the first tech company to IPO on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).

Kioson during its IPO in October 5, raising $3.3 million. Source: Kioson.

Indonesian startup darling Go-Jek is also leveraging its millions of users by launching its own mobile wallet, GoPay, which has real potential to become the WeChat of Indonesia.

GoPay’s usability has improved from payment for rides to also allowing peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers and making the order of food, groceries, tickets, and beauty treatments extremely easy in one app.

Are we missing any key players? Let us know via Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter

Download ECOMScape Indonesia 2017 here.

Featured image credit: Martha Suherman