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Here’s what you should know today:

1. Indonesia’s Fabelio is seeking investors for series B

Online furniture markeplace Fabelio is reportedly in talks with potential investors to finalise its Series B funding, the company is likely to raise more than $5 million with participations from existing investors.

Previously, the Jakarta-based company has raised $2 million in series A round led by Venturra Capital. Its seed round investors 500 Startups and IMJ Investment Partners also participated.

Founded in 2014, the company has grown 11x in the last 18 months and reached 1 million page views for the first time last Ramadan. The company is planning the expansion to other Southeast Asia markets.

Read the full story here

2. Amazon Launches Shoppable Feed Stories on Its App 

Never a day goes by without something new from Amazon! Today the company is launching a new feature aimed at improving product discovery, and seemingly inspired by Instagram, called Amazon Spark.

The goal with the new program is to shift some of the social activity around products taking place off-site back to Amazon.

In addition to lifestyle imagery, Spark posts can also contain product photos, text, links or polls. The ability to shop the photos on Amazon’s site is also seemly to be a much more seamless experience than on Instagram.

Amazon Spark is currently only available on Amazon iOS app for its customer in the US.

Read the full story here

3. Jack Ma praises Malaysia on its digital projects implementation

Jack Ma has praised Malaysia’s strength, tenacity and speed in implementing digital projects. The Alibaba Group founder said what he thought was “impossible” for Malaysia to do, Malaysia came through.

The project in question is to make the country the first e-WTP (World Trade Platform) hub in the region, something that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak promised to do in three months.

“We thought it was almost impossible to make that happen in three months. It was a huge project, but they made it on time. They set up a great, strong team to follow up on the project. They opened up a customs office, inspection offices and made available the land that was required.” said Ma.

Read the full story here

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Indonesia’s Muslimmarket.com raises funding from 500 Startups to enter the offline model

Muslimmarket has raised its series A funding from 500 Startups, a local investment firm, and few unnamed individual investors as confirmed to DealStreetAsia. The deal values the company at around $10 million.

The co-founder of Muslimmarket, Riel Tasmaya, said the funding would be used to promote, market, and expand their next phase of growth.

One of the plans is to introduce their fashion brand, SUQMA, during the Ramadan month that will falls on May-June this year.

They are planning to enter the offline model by launching two outlets in Jakarta, doing several road shows, and holding pop-up and bazaars to promote their brands.

In Indonesia, this brand is competing with similar sites like Hijabenka and HijUp — which also backed by 500 Startups. Right now Muslimmarket counts around 100-150 brands on the platform with more than 7000 SKUs.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Alibaba sets to complete the construction of its hub in Thailand by 2019

In an email to China Daily, the group stated that the building of the park is on a “steady course” and marks the company’s long term investment in Thailand.

Under an agreement in December with the Thai government, Alibaba will provide training for SMEs and enhance its logistics capability.

Alibaba expects to see the completion of the ecommerce and logistics hub by 2019. The hub is designed to provide a one-stop service connecting SMEs, manufacturers, service providers, and logistics partners, complementing its existing investment in Lazada Group.

Together with Lazada, it will offer ecommerce training to 30,000 Thai SMEs to aid access to both domestic and international platforms, and nurture software developers.

Alibaba will also advise the country’s postal service – Thailand Post – on shipping and logistics.

Read the rest of the story here.

3. JD partners with convenience store owners to launch branded stores in rural China

China’s second largest ecommerce company, JD, is planning to expand their footprint offline to help the brand penetrate rural markets by partnering with local convenience stores.

The deal will see JD products be sold in their stores at JD.com prices.

Ecommerce is less popular in this market where people prefer to shop at the local stores despite the more expensive prices.

JD.com will provide training, branding and products as part of a large scale franchise model. The stores owners will retain full ownership of the properties but will pay a deposit to join the program.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know before starting the week.

1. Japan eyes cooperation with ASEAN to improve ecommerce

In an effort to spur progress in negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement in wider Asia region, Japan is eyeing cooperation with the Associations of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) by proposing a plan to improve ecommerce and customs procedures.

The plan will primarily focus on supporting the bloc’s small and midsize businesses, which are seen as holding the key to ASEAN’s economic growth. Many of the businesses are selling their products online without having their own logistics networks. 

Japan offered to introduce delivery methods pioneered by Japanese companies and have personnel share their know-how on improving efficiency. This delivery system is hoped to be more efficient and allow the businesses to cut costs.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Indonesia’s conglomerate, Salim Group, joins B2B ecommerce space

Salim Group has recently established its B2B ecommerce platform, IDMarco, reported DealStreetAsia. The platform is currently still on the trial basis and focussing on small and traditional stores, hotels, restaurants, cafes, and individuals looking to buy in bulk. 

The other companies under Salim Group are said to be involved in supporting the platform, especially in FMCG and automotive parts. 

Salim Group is not the only big player showing interest in the growing niche. Prior existing players in B2B space like Bizzy and Mbiz each has the backup of conglomerates like Sinar Mas and Lippo Group respectively.

“Indonesia is still a promising market for B2B ecommerce, some competitors are also targeting different market segment. So the pie is still big but less competitive”.

Read the rest of the story here.

3. Ecommerce platform for virtual goods, Itemku, raises funding from 500 Startups

Jakarta-based Five Jack, the parent company behind Itemku, announces today that it has raised $1.2 million of funding from 500 Startups and undisclosed South Korean venture capitals, as reported by e27.

Itemku is a platform that allows gamers to make money from their in-app purchases with a secure financial system. The company is planning to use the funding to expand its operation in Southeast Asia within the second half of 2017.

Previously, it has raised investment from BonAngels in 2014 and 500 Startups in 2015. The total accumulated investment to date is $1.7 million. Itemku has recorded average growth of 30% per month according to CEO Denis Kim.

There is a big price gap of virtual game goods between emerging and developed countries, so we can take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. itemku can connect sellers in emerging countries to buyers in developed countries,” said CEO Denis Kim.

Five Jack, founded in South Korea and Indonesia in 2013, started out as a price comparison and classifieds ads website before pivoting to sell game items and currency in 2015.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Singaporean insurtech startup PolicyPal secures seed funding from 500 Startups

PolicyPal, which launched in April 2016, displays all your existing insurance coverage plans on a single screen. It’ll tell you when to renew specific plans as well as when a premium payment is due.

It will be using the fresh funding to strengthen product development efforts as well as to enter the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s fintech regulatory sandbox.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. The Amazon S3 outage is what happens when one site hosts too much of the internet

The problems seem to stem from trouble with Amazon’s cloud storage service S3, which Amazon confirmed is experiencing “high error rates,” particularly on the East Coast.

 Corporate consolidation in tech has implications for competition—but it also affects the resilience of the internet itself.
Amazon has multiple data centers in case one goes offline. But Amazon occasionally runs into problems that knock out services for an entire region. When that happens in the eastern region, its most popular, it tends to take down large swaths of the net.

Read the rest of the story here

3. Recommended Reading: Alibaba’s “new retail” model: A better omni-channel experience for luxury consumers?

Over the past year, Alibaba has aggressively acquired sizable Chinese retailers of different types. It has formed partnerships with supermarket retailer Bailian Group, high-end retailer Yintai Group (owner of Intime Department Stores), electronics retailer Suning Commercial Group, and several others.

Alibaba’s “new retail” model could entirely transform the retail landscape in China if it succeeds. Luxury brands could potentially benefit as this new model can provide them an opportunity to offer better omni-channel experiences to consumers.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Before you end the day, check out the top ecommerce headlines

1. Cross-border ecommerce ‘set to skyrocket’ in China

With Chinese authorities relaxing the rules, online purchases of overseas products are expected to increase to $285 billion in value in 2018, up from $136 billion last year.

China is already the largest eCommerce market in the world, with the use of CBEC via such marketplaces as JD Worldwide and Tmall Global being attributed to the continuing rise of the upper middle class with its growing use of the internet and belief that international brands are of higher quality.

Read the rest of the story here

 

2. 500 Startups reportedly to enter Philippines in 2017

The global early-stage VC firm, 500 Startups, is reportedly planning to enter the Philippines in 2017, according to 500 Startups Partner Vishal Harnal in a television interview with Bloomberg.

“When you invest in early stage like us, we like people on the ground, who are hearing things, meeting with entrepreneurs.Which is why rather than make those bets from Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia, we like to have people on the ground in the Philippines,” said 500 Startups Partner Vishal Harnal.

Read the rest of the story here

 

3. Baidu’s ambitious plans for the US feature AI and adtech

Baidu seems to have found its own solution to tackling the US market that not only involves AI, but also intelligent apps and a machine learning-powered ad platform.

Baidu has been vocal about recognizing AI as the next stage of the internet, and their efforts in the Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab show their commitment to research in the field, specifically: image recognition, speech recognition, natural language processing, robotics, and big data.

Read the rest of the story here

Winding down from your work day? Read today’s top ecommerce headlines here.

1. 500 Startups announces second 500 Durians fund worth $50m

“Southeast Asia has a ready pipeline of explosive growth companies,” Khailee Ng, 500 Startup’s Manging Partner says of why they are deepening their presence in the region. Funding for Durians II was kickstarted by “fund of funds investor” Mavcap, the Malaysian government’s VC arm, which also largely backed Durians I. Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. TrueMoney transfer launched

TrueMoney Transfer enables real-time fund transfers from Thailand to Myanmar, allowing migrant workers to significantly reduce the expense and risks associated with sending money to family back in Myanmar. Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Line launches ‘Line Finance’, partners with fintech firms

Line Finance is an official account where users can go in to make inquiries regarding finance. Whether they need information on the stock market or tips on investment, this app also allows for a degree of personalization. Read the rest of the story here.