Posts

Alibaba’s entry into Southeast Asia served as social proof for many entrepreneurs and businesses that they were onto something big, which led to a year of exuberance for ecommerce in the region.

“We’re just at the beginning, [the Alibaba-Lazada deal] will kickstart the whole cycle. It will attract more global investments into the region, and attract more entrepreneurs who now see this region as a great place to start a business.” — Stefan Jung, founding partner at Indonesia-based Venturra Capital in an interview with Tech in Asia

Even as we get closer to 2018, there are already numerous casualties in one of the most promising ecommerce growth markets in the world.

Alibaba doubled down on its Lazada investment by upping its share from 51 percent to 83 percent and in a push to monopolize the market, put grips on Tokopedia, arguably one of Lazada’s biggest competitors in Indonesia.

Tencent, through JD or directly, also began executing its China playbook by investing in companies like Sea, Go-Jek, Traveloka, Pomelo Fashion and Tiki.vn.

Global attention from the US came from KKR, who through Emerald Media, put $65M into ecommerce ‘arms dealer’ aCommerce in a bid to replicate Baozun’s dominance in the Chinese “TP” (Tmall Partner) landscape.

And the plays won’t stop here.

Leveraging newly consolidated positions of strength, marketplaces will cross traditional boundaries and move into areas like private label brands and offline distribution. Brands will also feel increasingly cornered, facing a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Those that survive 2018 will have to find a niche for themselves, such as in fashion or home, because there isn’t much room left for another horizontal ecommerce player. Others will be tempted to take risky shortcuts like say, raising money through ICOs.

2018 will also see Tencent, not Alibaba or a local company, emerge as the winner in mobile payments in Southeast Asia.

It might be a good time to start learning Chinese.

1. Plata o Plomo: Southeast Asia ecommerce will be increasingly factionalized into Alibaba and Tencent camps, and locals will pick sides

Given its similarities to China roughly 10 years ago, Southeast Asia has become a gold rush for Chinese Internet giants looking to expand beyond the mainland. It was Alibaba’s acquisition of Lazada last year that triggered an arms race between China’s #1 and #2 in Southeast Asia, and in turn, will cause local companies to choose sides.

Image source: Sohu

Alibaba also led a $1.1B investment in Tokopedia in 2017, continuing to place its biggest bets on ecommerce. Moving forward, the company is expected to position Lazada and Tokopedia as the Tmall and Taobao of Southeast Asia, respectively.

Meanwhile, Tencent has aggressively tried to replicate a three-prong formula that was successful in its fight against Alibaba in China: gaming, mobile and payments.

The first step was becoming the largest shareholder of Sea (previously Garena), predominantly a gaming powerhouse that runs Shopee, a mobile-first ecommerce marketplace and the second was placing bets on Go-Jek to become a “super app” like WeChat and WeChat Pay.

Understandable as WeChat Pay now commands an impressive 40% market share in China vs. AliPay’s 54%, up from 11% in 2015.

“Is there a land grab right now for these kind of assets? I think in the land grab they [Tencent] are following us. They are seeing that we have positioned ourselves very well, and they’re sort of playing a catch up game. So what we want to do is, since we already have our positions, is to work with local entrepreneurs.” — Joe Tsai, Alibaba Vice Chairman, in speaking with Bloomberg.

Tencent and Alibaba share price increase over last 7 years compared to Amazon and NASDAQ composite
Source: Yahoo Finance (December 4, 2017)

With both Tencent and Alibaba market caps at all-time highs, we expect this trend to continue throughout 2018 with both sides gobbling up more local companies across the ecommerce ecosystem and upping shares in existing ones.

2. Facing slow organic growth, Amazon will acquire a company to fast-track its ecommerce expansion in the emerging region

Image source: Getty Images

Amazon’s entry into “Southeast Asia” was the biggest surprise and non-surprise at the same time.

A non-surprise because Amazon’s long-awaited and rumored soft-launch into Singapore was widely covered by the media even before the company’s Prime Now services officially became available on July 26, 2017.

A surprise because Amazon’s expected tour-de-force across the region ended before it even started.

Amazon fanboys celebrated the initial launch of a scaled down, poor man’s version of Amazon — Amazon Prime Now — offering a measly one million household items and daily essentials.

“I was expecting more things that I can’t get in Singapore, for example Sriracha or something small that’s not available in Singapore but most stuff on Prime Now are basic things you can get from Fairprice…” — Reddit User Ticklishcat

But there’s good reason for it.

It doesn’t make sense for Amazon to set up a full-blown local presence in the country-state. Singaporeans, under the Free AmazonGlobal Saver Shipping option, were already enjoying free international shipping from Amazon en masse for orders over US$125.

The country ranks #29 in terms of session/year to Amazon.com on a global scale but #4 when normalized for population size. With an average of 14.04 sessions per person per year visiting Amazon.com, Singapore takes the top spot among all the countries in Asia.

Singaporeans already buying from Amazon, without the latter’s full-fledged local presence: Singapore ranking only #29 in traffic to Amazon.com but #4 when normalized for population size (#1 in Asia)

Source: SimilarWeb, World Bank

The launch of Amazon Prime in Singapore earlier this month makes it even less likely for the firm to set up local operations beyond Amazon Prime Now. Amazon is no longer subsidizing the original free shipping for orders above US$125 to Singapore and Singaporean Prime members have free international delivery only on orders above S$60 on Amazon’s US website for S$8.99 per month in addition to other benefits.

Not much else has been heard about the company’s further expansion into the region, particularly Indonesia and Thailand, where markets are being rapidly carved up by Alibaba and Tencent.

With time running out for a full-fledged, organic entry into the high-growth markets of Southeast Asia, its stock trading at all-time highs, and not too distant memories of failure in China, we expect Amazon to attempt at least one major acquisition in 2018 to accelerate regional expansion.

3. Offline is the new online: pure-play ecommerce to launch physical stores to offset rising online customer acquisition costs and improve last-mile fulfillment

While traditional offline retailers like Central in Thailand and Matahari in Indonesia scrambled to move business online, online pure-play ecommerce is expected to make moves offline.

With online customer acquisition channels like Google and Facebook rapidly reaching saturation and diminishing returns, ecommerce players like Pomelo and Lazada will look to offline channels to reach new customers.

Pomelo dabbled in offline over the last few years but, fresh off a $19M Series B, recently launched its biggest pop-up to date in Siam Square, the fashion center of Bangkok. The store applies “click-and-collect”, enabling customers to order online and try items in store before deciding which ones to keep or return.

Image source: Pomelo

“In fashion, the number one barrier to purchase is still the need to try product on for fit coupled with the hassle of returns. An offline footprint addresses this barrier head on. Additionally customers can be acquired offline and data from online can be used to drive higher sales and greater operational efficiencies offline. In short, a mix of offline and online is the optimal strategy for fashion retail going forward.” — David Jou, Co-Founder and CEO, Pomelo Fashion

Love Bonito, another online-first fashion brand from Singapore, officially launched its permanent flagship store at Orchard Road after seven years of being an ecommerce pure-play.

Image source: Love Bonito

Lazada, on the other hand, may follow Alibaba’s moves in China where the ecommerce juggernaut launched Hema supermarkets in Beijing and Shanghai. In addition to reinforcing a positive brand experience and customer acquisition, these new offline stores serve as fulfillment centers, effectively making up for Southeast Asia’s lack of logistics infrastructure.

Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets in China. Image source: Quartz

Lazada Group CEO Max Bittner already hinted at the possibility physical stores in Indonesia at a conference earlier this year.

Over the last decade in China, Alibaba rode 50%+ year-on-year ecommerce growth to become what it is today, however, as maturation slows, Alibaba has doubled-down on initiatives like Single’s Day (11.11), “New Retail” (smart pop-up stores around China), and market expansion to accelerate sales (Southeast Asia).

Despite the region being projected as the next big ecommerce growth story, online accounts for only 1-2% of total retail today. If companies like Lazada and Shopee want to grow faster than the market allows, going offline will be the obvious choice.

4. New ecommerce startups will use ICOs to raise funding to battle giants

With Southeast Asia increasingly being carved up by giants such as Alibaba and Tencent in a presumed winner-takes-all-market, smaller ecommerce startups will look at alternative ways to finance themselves.

Enter newly hyped Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Raising funds through these means in Southeast Asia was pioneered by Omise, a fintech startup based in Thailand, that successfully raised $25M in a few hours to develop a decentralized payment system.

Given early speculation of Amazon moving into the cryptocurrency space, we’ll have fertile ground for our first Southeast Asian ecommerce ICO. Already a start up called HAMSTER is selling HMT tokens to develop a decentralized marketplace that promises “no fees, no brokers”.

Revolutionary ecommerce platform funded by ICOs or ponzi scheme?

Expect ecommerce startups to use ICOs to fund customer acquisition, new product development, and inventory financing. That is, until the bubble bursts

5. A final wave of ecommerce consolidation sweeps through as local players adjust to a New World Order

We’ve shared numerous stories of casualties and consolidation during the Southeast Asian ecommerce bloodbath in our previous annual predictions.

Japan’s Rakuten sold off most of its assets in the region when it retreated in 2015/2016. Rocket Internet dumped Zalora Thailand and Vietnam in a fire sale in 2016 and sold its Phillipines entity to local conglomerate Ayala Group the year after.

In Thailand, Ascend Group put its assets WeLoveShopping and WeMall on life support to focus on fintech.

In Indonesia, reports surfaced of SK Planet selling its Elevenia shares to Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group, which was quickly followed by news of its Malaysian entity up for bid between Alibaba and JD.

Earlier in the year, Indonesia’s second largest telco Indosat Ooredoo shut down its ecommerce website Cipika. Alfamart, Indonesia’s second largest convenience store chain also had to downsize operations to pivot its ecommerce initiative Alfacart away from a general marketplace play towards an online grocery channel.

Come 2018, all eyes will be on the health of remaining bastions of home-grown, horizontal ecommerce plays. As Alibaba and Tencent up the ante, there will definitely be more casualties in the new year.

6. Go-Pay will venture outside of Indonesia through Sea, Traveloka and JD to become the WeChat Pay of Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s ecommerce today is like what China was in 2008 — the pace of change is unimaginable. When I visited our office in Jakarta 12 months ago, hardly anyone was using Go-Jek’s mobile payment platform and wallet, Go-Pay.

Returning six months later, almost all of my colleagues used Go-Pay to transfer money peer-to-peer and pay for products and services.

In most of emerging Southeast Asia (excl. Singapore and Malaysia), credit card penetration rates are in low single digits and most people don’t even have a bank account.

Source: Global Findex, World Bank

Unfortunately, few fintech and payment startups in the region have created products to address the lack of credit cards and large unbanked population. Instead, the majority happily build payment gateways and e-wallets that rely on existing and legacy credit card infrastructure like in the US (Apple Pay anyone?).

It’s no wonder cash-on-delivery (COD) still makes up over 70% of all processed transactions according to data by ecommerceIQ.

Those that do focus on mobile wallets topped up with cash like Thailand’s True Money struggle to achieve sustainable “core product value” and reach mass.

“Community, Commerce, and Payments are inter-connected in the Digital World. Thus far, all successful mobile payment plays, globally, are centered on the commerce and community axis. PayPal started with eBay, Alipay with Alibaba/TMall/Taobao, WeChat Pay leveraged WeChat/QQ, and Amazon Pay has Amazon. Due to this very reason, standalone payments/wallet business will struggle.” — Gaurav Sharma, Founder at Atlantis Capital

Go-Pay addresses these fundamental issues by allowing users to send payments peer-to-peer (P2P) and top up by giving cash to Go-Jek drivers who act like mobile ATM machines.

Top up your Go Pay mobile wallet by handing cash to a Go-Jek driver

More importantly, with Go-Jek being part of the Tencent faction, we expect the company to push Go-Pay into other Southeast Asian countries through its community and commerce platforms such as Sea (Garena, Shopee, etc.), Traveloka and JD.

Following rumors in November, Go-Jek finally announced its acquisition of Kartuku, Mapan and Midtrans. The latter, being one of Indonesia’s top online payment gateways, will give Go-Pay additional distribution channels and use cases such as Matahari Mall, Tokopedia and Garuda Indonesia, pushing it beyond the realm of P2P into B2C payments.

A strong contender for the “WeChat of Southeast Asia” is Grab, whose 2.5 million daily rides makes it the largest ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia. GrabPay, launched this year, is Grab’s effort to move Singapore towards a cashless society, with plans to expand across the region in 2018.

Should Go-Jek be worried? Not really.

Singapore is not the ideal test-bed to launch a mobile wallet because the country already has an ubiquitous cashless payment platform called “credit cards”. And GrabPay’s recent partnership in Indonesia with Lippo Group’s Ovo hasn’t garnered much attention or presented wide use cases.

“While it might seem like common wisdom to first test (an idea) in Singapore, and then take it regionally and to the world, with all due respect to the government, I think it doesn’t make sense in today’s world.” — Min-Liang Tan, Co-Founder and CEO of Razer

Go-Pay, on the other hand, is adding value to users in a country where only 36% have bank accounts and 2% have credit cards. Emerging markets like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines have a similar (lack of) financial infrastructure as Indonesia.

Go-Jek, by being part of the Tencent faction, has access to a much more diversified distribution channel and offers a variety of common day-to-day use cases such as gaming (Garena), shopping (Sea, JD), travel (Traveloka) and pretty much everything else (Go-Jek itself).

7. New mobile-first fashion and beauty marketplaces will fill void left by Zalora

Zalora, Rocket Internet’s once star fashion ecommerce venture, has struggled in Southeast Asia since launching in 2012. Zalora Thailand and Vietnam were picked up by Thai retail conglomerate Central Group for pennies on the dollar while the Philippines entity was partially sold off to the Ayala real estate group.

There were even rumors of Zalora Indonesia exiting to local retailer MAP, which were swiftly denied.

A few factors contributed to the company’s difficulties: 1. Price and product variety competition with merchants selling on Facebook, Instagram and LINE, 2. Control of brands by one or two retail conglomerates like Central in Thailand, MAP in Indonesia, and SSI Group in the Philippines.

These two factors made it difficult for Zalora to pivot to an ASOS-style premium brand marketplace.

A shell of its former self, Zalora’s challenges left a void that is increasingly being filled by more nimble, mobile-first fashion marketplaces that see an opportunity in a space dominated by mass-market, general ecommerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee.

As evident from Amazon’s struggle to court premium fashion brands in the US, luxury brands don’t like to sell on mass platforms, where merchandise shows up beside detergent and washing machines.

“After purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon now has access to the wealthiest refrigerators in the country but they still can’t get into our closets because the aspirational beauty and fashion brands don’t want to distribute on their platform. Why? Because they don’t have their heads up their ass and realize that Amazon partners with brands the way a virus partners with its host.” — Scott Galloway, L2 Founder and NYU Stern Professor

Over in China, both Tmall and JD had to exert a Herculean effort to attract fashion brands. In October, JD launched TopLife, a standalone online luxury platform to provide a high-end experience that high-end brands promise. Alibaba also launched Luxury Pavilion, a section within Tmall tailored to luxury brands like Burberry and Hugo Boss.

Spearheading a new wave of mobile-centric Southeast Asian fashion marketplaces are Zilingo, fresh off an $18M Series B, and Goxip, a Hong Kong based startup that recently completed a $5M Series A with plans to enter Thailand. In Indonesia, there’s LYKE, ironically founded by the ex-Zalora CMO.

With the benefits of hindsight and understanding of the importance of social commerce on driving fashion, these emerging players will offer elements like chat, content and an influencer network to offset some of the customer acquisition cost challenges inherent in scaling ecommerce.

8. Marketplaces will grow up and clean up ‘grey market’ for blue-chip and luxury brands

Over the last six years, most of the region’s initial ecommerce growth was focused on driving GMV by tapping into any merchant and brand willing to sell online.

In 2018, marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee will continue to attempt to onboard bigger global brands but their success will require them to control grey market sellers and counterfeit goods in order to cultivate an environment in which blue-chip brands will feel comfortable selling.

Alibaba went through the same process in China when discussions surrounding counterfeits and grey market goods on Tmall and Taobao peaked around the company’s IPO in 2014.

Based on data provided by marketplace analytics platform BrandIQ, 80% of SKUs from consumer product giants like Unilever, Samsung, and L’Oreal on average are sold by unauthorized, grey market resellers. These grey market SKUs are sold at a price 30% lower than official flagship stores and authorized resellers.

Why all the fuss? Because grey market sales impact the image of brands selling in official stores.

“Lately, the explosion of third-party sellers on the site has led to authentic goods from companies such as Nike, Chanel, The North Face, Patagonia and Urban Decay being sold on Amazon even though they don’t authorize the sales, undercutting their grip on pricing and distribution,” said the Wall Street Journal.

Nike, for example, refused to sell directly to Amazon for a long time, fearing it would undermine its brand. But by not selling on marketplace creates space that will be quickly filled by grey market, unauthorized third-party resellers looking for arbitrage opportunities as seen from the previous BrandIQ data.

Customers buying from these grey market resellers perceive this as buying from the brand itself and, when having a poor customer experience, end up blaming the brand rather than the unauthorized reseller.

BrandIQ data shows that the average rating for grey market SKUs are 24% lower than reviews for similar products sold through the official shop-in-shop or flagship store.

We’ll see a push from the marketplace and brands to address grey market sales in Southeast Asia in 2018. Marketplaces will employ a tighter grip on third-party resellers in order to attract better brands, while brands will set up an official presence on marketplaces as a way to pro-actively manage the customer experience and brand image.

9. Marketplaces and e-tailers will introduce its own private label products and alienate brands

As the ecommerce market in Southeast Asia matures and consolidates, marketplaces, e-tailers and ecommerce startups will be increasingly scrutinized for margin growth. Gone are the days of aggressive top line growth and market share grabs at all cost.

With Lazada post-Alibaba acquisition and Shopee post-IPO (as part of Sea), what other value-added services will these companies tap into for sustainable revenue growth?

In this instance, companies in Southeast Asia have taken a cue from the China playbook. Lazada launched a Lazada Marketing Solutions unit to monetize its 23M active annual customers through advertising similar to how Tmall and Taobao charge for ads in China.

Today, Lazada offers display ads and programmatic promoted product ads to its customers but is expected to launch pay-per-click search ads in 2018 competing with Google, Facebook and similar networks out there. Across the region, Shopee has already launched pay-per-click search ads.

Beyond advertising, we can expect more marketplaces and e-tailers to follow Amazon’s foray into private label brands to boost margins. With the data collected from selling third-party brands, these ecommerce platforms know exactly what kind of products sell best, to whom, at what time and where.

Flipkart, one of India’s top marketplaces competing with Amazon, recently announced its aim for 20-22% sales contribution from private labels in the next five years.

“When we first decided to foray into private labels in mid-2016, a ‘Tiger Team,’ for private labels was created internally to research 50-odd retailers around the world, including Europe, the US, China and India, to envisage what the private label landscape would look like for Flipkart over the next few years. Research revealed that private labels can contribute 10-20 percent of the company’s business. For instance, US-based Costco Wholesale’s private label brand Kirkland contributes 20-25 percent of its business,” said Adarsh Menon, Flipkart’s Head of Private Labels in an interview with The Hindu.

Launching private label brands in Southeast Asia isn’t something new. Zalora launched its own fashion label called EZRA as early as 2013 followed by Lazada’s LZD Premium Collection in 2014. With the focus on top line growth in the period of 2013-2016, private label brands have taken a backseat as seen from the limited number of them listed today on Zalora and Lazada.

Althea, a Korean beauty e-retailer that recently raised a $7M Series B, specifically said to be using the new funds to launch more private label products.

Althea private label product sold on their website

“Based on the vast amount of user data that we have gathered… we are now able to understand the specific needs of our customers in each market, garner feedback almost instantly through our online platforms, and quickly turn that into a product within a month or two,” said Althea Co-Founder and CEO Frank Kang. “We have deep insights into our customer base that traditional brands simply cannot match.”

In light of all this, it’s not surprising Zalora has expressed renewed interest in pushing its own private labels, “Something Borrowed” and “Zalora”, for the new year.

10. B2B ecommerce to disrupt offline distributors, blurring lines between online and offline distribution

Despite the rosy outlook for ecommerce in Southeast Asia, the reality is that B2C ecommerce today is still in the low single digit percentages. Given aggressive growth targets, brands, marketplaces and e-tailers will increasingly look toward non-B2C channels such as B2B and B2E (Business-to-Employee) channels for revenue.

Zilingo, the Sequoia-backed fashion marketplace, launched its Zilingo Asia Mall B2B marketplace to allow fashion buyers in the US and Europe buy Zilingo merchandise at wholesale prices, effectively creating an “Alibaba” for fashion.

Shopee launched a wholesale feature earlier this year, allowing merchants to set lower unit prices for larger order quantities.

 

Shopee Malaysia offering wholesale feature

aCommerce, Southeast Asia’s ecommerce enabler and e-distributor, fresh off a $65M Series B from KKR-backed Emerald Media, coined a new term for all this — “B2A” or Business-to-All.

The company is behind the B2B and B2E initiatives for brands like Samsung and L’Oreal. According to the company, B2B ecommerce now contributes to 30% of total revenues at aCommerce, up from 10% a year earlier (disclaimer, I work here).

Written by: Sheji Ho, aCommerce Group Chief Marketing Officer

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Despite its reputation as the next biggest ecommerce market after China and India, Indonesia’s playground has caused many players drop out.

Alfacart, an e-marketplace offering products from various categories, is the latest name in retail that has shifted strategy in order to remain in the game.

After more than a year operating as a horizontal marketplace, Alfacart has reverted back into an ecommerce channel selling products solely from its parent company, Alfamart – Indonesia’s second biggest convenience store chain.

The pivot has not only caused the downsized in the team and C-level management to resign but as well, all third party sellers.

What happened?

Alfacart’s beginning

Alfacart was first introduced to the country as AlfaOnline and built in 2013 when Alfamart realised the importance of having an online channel to expand its reach. The platform at that time focused on selling groceries and various daily necessities.

After three years and a lack of significant growth, the company decided to open its platform to third party vendors and increase their product categories to include items under Fashion, Gadget, and Lifestyle.

“Our digital presence needed to be transformed into full-fledged ecommerce to be able to win the market and contribute significantly to the group’s revenue,” said CEO Catherine Sutjahjo at the time of the transformation.

This pivot came along with a new name, and Alfacart was born.

Alfacart pivot

Alfacart portal before the pivot

To distinguish themselves from the other many horizontal marketplaces – Lazada ID, elevenia, Mataharimall, blibli, etc. – they introduced O2O (online-to-offline) by leveraging Alfamart’s offline network of over 7,000 stores nationwide.

Customers ideally could pickup and return their order at any Alfamart counter, which also widened their payments options to cash.

However, despite its efforts, Alfacart struggled to compete with the already established marketplaces. A quick look at web traffic ranks in Indonesia show that Alfacart hasn’t managed to come in the top five.

Alfacart pivot

Alfacart (purple line) traffic is seen declining in the last three months

Say yes to the horizontal marketplace?

Alfacart is not a lone case in Indonesia’s saturating retail space. Only a month earlier, Cipika, a  marketplace backed by Indosat Ooredoo – one of the largest telco providers in Indonesia – announced that it was shutting down its business.

Similarly to Alfacart, Cipika also evolved into a multi-category marketplace model by offering snacks and electronics in an attempt to reach more potential customers but called it quits after almost 3 years.

Alfacart pivot

Cipika’s shut down announcement on their website

The company’s reason for closing down?

“B2C ecommerce will take a long time to reach profitability,” admitted Prashant Gokarn, Chief Strategy and Digital Services Officer at Indosat Ooredoo.

Say no to the marketplace.

The landscape for B2C ecommerce in Indonesia is indeed crowded and becoming more so as big corporations and conglomerates scramble to back new ventures by pumping in millions of dollars.

Alfacart pivot

Indonesia’s crowded B2C space

The problem though is a lack of any distinguishing factors between these marketplaces as they all offer similar product categories, operate on the same models, and target the same people.

With the same people vying for the same slice of pie, one way to win the consumer is by offering heavy discounts — a strategy that hasn’t changed since the birth of ecommerce in the country 4-5 years ago and still yields the same little return. Another way would be to diversify.

Blibli is a good example of a B2C site offering new categories such as local Indonesian goods and travel through the acquisition of Tiket.com.

What’s important to note is that the playing field is about to get even more rough as notable C2C players like Bukalapak, Tokopedia and Shopee have also branched out to B2C by onboarding big brands like Unilever to their platforms.

Who will be standing at the end of the year?

Alfacart pivot

Alfacart’s C-levels: CCO Ernest Tjahjana, CEO Catherine Hindra Sutjahyo, CMO Haryo Suryo Saputro with Alfamart’s IT Director, Bambang Djojo (in red)

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. Thai conglomerate CP Group set to buy 7-Eleven franchise in Indonesia

Charoen Pokphand Indonesia, an affiliate of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group poised to buy 7-Eleven franchise in Indonesia for $75 million. The objective is to revive the convenience store chain. Although the franchise is top-of-mind for Thais, its presence in Indonesia is overshadowed by local players such as Indomaret and Alfamart.

Indonesia’s 2015 decision to ban alcohol sales at small retail stores dealt a major blow to 7-Eleven. Modern Sevel said it closed around 25 locations in 2016.

CP Indonesia is the country’s top poultry producer, logging $2.9 billion in revenue in 2016. The acquisition is expected to boost its downstream business.

Another interesting development that could come out of the acquisition is CP Group’s partnership with Ant Financial, and the existence of True Money in Indonesia. It seems like CP Group is already laying out plans to cater to the country’s unbanked population.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Myanmar’s Shop.com.mm to launch online payment platform

Shop.com.mm now has more than 500 local partners selling on the website and are forging international partnerships to bring on more partners to sell on its platform. Aside from partnership expansion plans, the ecommerce platform is poised to launch its own online payment system.

The firm is cooperating with several banks to launch its online payment system, in addition to using existing services such as AGD Pay, OK Dollar, and Wave Money.

Currently, customers can pay via cash on delivery or swipe on delivery. Bringing in an online payment option may take some time, as trust is a big hurdle to ecommerce in the country.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: How in-home package delivery can save ecommerce

Would you allow UPS to drop off a package inside your home when you’re not there?

That question is at the heart of a three-month pilot program that smart lock maker August tried out last winter with 76 of its users in an attempt to see if the company could help jumpstart the ecommerce industry.

“It’s a question of working with those providers to make this something that’s commercialized, with training,” the company said. “We’ve already completed trials with some, and some are moving toward commercialization plans. The trick will be to get people to the point where they take such things for granted, much as we all do now with things like taking rides with Uber or Lyft, or staying in people’s homes via Airbnb.”

Read the rest of the story here.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Minimarkets, a store that sells food and sometimes other goods, in Indonesia have been hailed as the “killer” of supermarkets since 2012. Its rapid growth has been largely driven by the increasing numbers of Indonesia’s middle class, where the demands for products and convenience have steadily grow hand-in-hand.

Despite the slight slowing down of the country’s economy in 2015, minimarkets’ growth didn’t show any signs of the same nature. According to the latest report by Fitch Ratings, about 1,200 additional new stores—from Indonesia’s two largest minimarket operators; Alfamart and Indomaret—opened their doors in 2015 for business throughout the archipelago, and the rating agency also expects an additional 1,000 stores to be open this year.

Such significant growth and performance for the retail format are not at all surprising given that the high demands are matched with the low operational capital commitment that the minimarket format has. They can penetrate areas that are of lower traffic with more ease than its hyper and supermarket counterparts.

Moreover, the substantial rise in the number of minimarkets might also hint at a change in customer shopping behavior within the field of modern retail formats.

Looking at the current trend, is it possible that Indonesians are shifting their grocery shopping habits from the bulk-purchase at hyper and supermarkets to smaller but more frequent buys at minimarkets?

To answer this, we pulled information from our single-source panel and receipts data to see if a shift in Indonesians’ shopping behavior is really happening. To provide a more current and up-to-date information, all data are based on real-time receipt figures taken from January 2016 to August 2016.

Mini is Big!

To look at purchase patterns across the different retail formats, we decided to look at the customers’ share of wallet where it shows which portion of their spending goes. The graph below is the total Indonesian share of wallet starting from January 2016 to August 2016.

It shows that not only do minimarkets dominate the shoppers’ spending, its size is also growing from below 50% to hitting the 60% mark in August. So, as minimarket’s percentage rises, supermarkets and hypermarkets have steadily been losing its share when it comes to their fraction within Indonesian shoppers’ wallets. Hypermarkets and supermarkets lost over 10% total market share in just 8 months.

Snapcart minimarket

 

From the data above, it can be concluded that there is a shift in purchase behavior in Indonesia. Has the shift in shopping habits of Indonesians spread throughout the country? Or is it only focused in just one part of the archipelago?

Looking at the number of minimarket chains in and outside Java as recorded in our data, Java has more chains. This number also corresponds with the fact that Java is home to about 140 million Indonesians, which is significantly more than half of the entire population of the country.

Snapcart minimarket

With this fact at hand, we look at the same data sets while adding Java and ‘outside Java’ lists as new variables. Shown on the graphs below, share of minimart wallets in Java has risen from 45% in January to just below 60% in May, then falling to 55% in June but rising again to 59% in August. It’s surprising that the share of wallet of minimarket outside Java is in fact higher than the ones in Java, despite having a lower number of minimarkets.

Looking at the share of wallet outside Java, it shows that people outside Java are spending more at minimarkets than Java residents, as its share of wallet never falls under the 50% mark. In fact, minimarkets’ share of wallet outside Java has significantly risen to around 66% in August.

Snapcart minimarket

Snapcart minimarket

What drives the shift?

There is a shift in consumer spending from the supermarkets and hypermarkets to minimarkets, but why? Is the shift of purchase to minimarkets driven by convenience? Or do other factors play a role in the rise of minimarket share? We look into the discount rates and the price perception of minimarkets.

Among all the modern market formats, minimarkets claim the deepest discount rate.

Taken from the receipt data, the graph below shows that the discount rates in minimarkets never falls under the 20% mark throughout January to August 2016.

At the same time, hypermarkets have the lowest rates with discounts reaching the 20% mark for their products only around February, March, and June, and supermarkets reaching above 20% average discount rate only around the first three months of 2016.

Snapcart minimarket

When looking at the percentage of promoted products to total basket size, Value on Deal (graph below), it shows that a good amount of items within the hypermarket and supermarkets shoppers’ baskets (above 10% of the total number of items) are filled with discounted products.

About 10% or less of the minimarket shoppers’ baskets are filled with promotional items. This could mean shoppers buy in minimarkets because of a cheaper price perception due to the depth of discount rate but once they have made a purchase, they actually buy products that aren’t discounted due to either product affinity or impulsive purchases.

Snapcart minimarket

With these facts in mind, could price perception really drive the rise of minimarket shopping? To find out, we conducted a survey comparing 14 different product categories for each retail format on the price perception of each category.

The 14 product categories we are looking at include; baby care, baby food, beverage, breads and pastries, cereals and grains, confectionary, cooking needs/condiments, dairy, health, household care, personal care, preserved food, snacks, and spread.

We asked over 3,000 respondents about the average price of each category in minimarkets in comparison to super and hypermarkets. The results showed that respondents agreed that the prices in minimarkets for most categories are identical with super and hypermarkets, with the exception for baby care and baby food categories.

To Conclude

­

The main driver for the shift of Indonesian shoppers from hyper and supermarkets to minimarkets may simply be due to the convenience factor. Minimarkets’ low capital requirements allow it to penetrate and exist in rural areas, making it the only viable choice for customers in such environments.

While price perception might not play an important role in the behavioral shift, minimarkets’ deep discount rates may be important bait for shoppers to make purchases at their stores. Furthermore, when looking at the percentage of promoted products to total basket size, only 10% are discounted while the other 90% of the content within the minimarket baskets are filled with products that are not discounted.

This proves that minimarkets could be a more effective outlet for your brands’ product categories, whether to include it as a key channel or to continue with this strategy.

This article originally appeared on Snapcart.asia’s blog on 4 November. Find it here.

Indonesia’s groceries market is plentiful but fragmented. While traditional supermarkets still reign, wet markets and independent grocery stores are gradually being replaced by modern retail chains and hypermarkets, a superstore that combines a supermarket with a department store or moving to ecommerce.

With a population of more than 258 million and an emerging middle class with surging purchasing power, hypermarkets, supermarkets and online players are working hard to capture the Indonesian potential.

How will they compete for the attention of shoppers? Data. Consumer insights are valuable to  retailers and marketers because it provides them a peek into the population’s purchase patterns and product preferences, which allows implementation of successful marketing strategies.

Startup from Indonesia Snapcart aims to do exactly this for their clients. The app offers shoppers cashback and rewards in return for photos of their offline shopping receipts. Data from the receipt is then collected by Snapcart, providing a window into the shopping behavior of Indonesians, Southeast Asia’s largest market.

Snapcart has shared exclusive data with ecommerceIQ to reveal what consumers are buying on a monthly basis at the country’s top five offline grocery stores: Alfamart, Carrefour, Hypermart, Indomaret and Super Indo.

By understanding offline retail trends, retailers can adjust sales campaigns or push out creative marketing strategies to make ecommerce more attractive to shoppers. What do we mean? Here’s how marketers can improve their online marketing tactics through Snapcart offline data:

Bundling

Bundling refers to the grouping of products to maximize sales and often an effective strategy used by marketers. By selling complementary products together, it incentivizes shoppers to make a larger purchase at one time to save money and time.

Fast food companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King have seen a significant rise in sales due to the introduction of combo deals. Approximately 35% of customer visits to these chains have been to purchase a ‘meal’. Starbucks also cashes in on the bundle deal, offering a customizable $8 ‘power lunch’ that combines a sandwich, popcorn, fruit bar and a bottle of water.

However, there’s a catch. If a retailer is looking to purely sell through bundling strategy, it may backfire. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that:

Companies profited best when the bundle strategy was coupled with an option to buy each piece individually.

Looking at customer data from Alfamart, baby diapers, cookies, fresh milk and cooking oil rank in the top 10 categories consistently every month.  It would be simple for the retailer to bundle fresh milk and cookies together or formula milk and diapers together to boost the sale of both category items. (see fig.1)

(fig.1)

Bundling is also used to sell less popular products. For example, cooking oil was a best seller every month at Super Indo and could be paired with an underperforming frozen package food at a promotion, to nudge shoppers with their grocery choices.

Other data also shows that Indonesians love to snack. Online retailers could offer shoppers the option to customize a snack basket online and increase basket size.  

Subscription Model

At Carrefour, instant noodles outperform every other product category each month (see chart). If consumers are purchasing large amounts of instant noodles regularly, Carrefour could introduce a subscription model.

[show-rjqc id=”61″]

 

For example, online shoppers would be able to order a customized instant noodle box, with variations in both brands and flavors, to be delivered to their homes once a month. Global brands in Southeast Asia such as NESCAFE are already adopting a subscription model strategy for everyday necessities people buy regularly such as coffee. 

Another startup from the US called Love with Food is expanding globally with a subscription-based service that sends consumers a box of all-natural, organic, and gluten-free snacks. Everything in the box comes from smaller food brands that want to get their product in front of customers.

Supermarkets lacking an online presence can create a simple popshop that will allow shoppers to sign up to have instant noodles or diapers in bulk delivered monthly to their homes.

Special Sales

Both the supermarket and distributor have the ability to push out a sale. But a sales strategy isn’t only about lowering the price of a product, it should effectively increase sales.

Discounts

A discount strategy should be used sparingly, and is effective only when a retailer awards loyal customers or happens occasionally.

Adjust pricing to increase short term sales or to boost impending dead stock to increase inventory turnover. This also means that as a retailer, you have a chance at negotiating a good deal with your product supplier as you will have increase in stock order.

For some grocery stores, they tend to offer discounts just before closing time, so discounts usually begin around 7pm-8pm.

BOGOF

The ‘buy one get one free’ strategy is arguably one of the most effective psychological pricing strategies that is used with shoppers. Consumers are typically drawn to the word ‘free’, which makes them buy more than they initially wanted but a lot of doubt surrounds this model.

British supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco have started to phase out BOGOF deals, following the release of a report highlighting how it misleads shoppers.

Retailers actually increase the price of the product customers think they’re getting a deal on. Instead of BOGOF, a ‘buy 5 get 2 free’ strategy seems to be more effective because the price isn’t deliberately pushed up as high for the sake of luring customers. For retailers that want to adopt this strategy, choose to promote everyday items such as shampoo or cleaning detergent.

The future of groceries

The data collected from Indonesian shoppers can enhance marketing campaigns both online and offline for retailers. As grocery retailing in Southeast Asia begins to move online, chains without a digital strategy such as Carrefour and Super Indo should consider transitioning to ecommerce.

There is still potential in the country for disruption as 69% of surveyed online shoppers are millennials, which means an upcoming generation of shoppers will be accustomed to using various online channels. Retailers should be ready to capture this audience by using offline customer behavior data they already possess to align their digital strategies and effectively enhance sales across channels.

BY anutra chatikavanij