Easing into your Tuesday? Check out today’s ecommerce headlines here.


1. Alibaba Group aims to re-define retail through VR on 11.11

Shoppers will be able to use virtual reality to buy, as Alibaba pilots Buy+, billed as the world’s first complete virtual reality (VR) shopping experience. Those who use it will be virtually transported to select retail stores internationally.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Walmart makes another big investment in China 

Walmart has made a $50 million investment in Chinese online grocery and delivery company. With the New Dada investment, Walmart can utilize New Dada’s network to offer customers two-hour delivery on groceries ordered from Walmart stores through the JD Daojia Dada app.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Retailers gets boost with halal e-market

With nearly 60 merchants on board, including 55 SMEs, the launch of Aladdin Street gels with the Government’s push for retail firms to use e-commerce to reach out to more customers.

The platform, which will eventually have offices in 30 countries, aims to promote halal products as a healthy, premium option even for non-Muslims. Aladdin Group, the company behind the marketplaces  is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur.

Read the rest of the story here.

1. App Annie predicts worldwide app downloads to hit over 280 billion by 2020

If you look at how much time we’ve spent on apps over the last two years, it’s grown over a 100 percent. This is because of the explosion in the number of devices and recent growths have come from India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Read the rest of the story here.


2. Mercedes-Benz Unveils delivery concepts that will use robots to deliver to your door

The robots will be loaded with their goods in the ‘Robovan’ using a racking system that enables 400 packages to be delivered every 9-hour shift, compared to 180 packages using previously available methods, an increase of over 120%. Read the rest of the story here.


3. Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University team up with Microsoft to boost local startups

This is a good initiative against the country’s tech talent shortage. This partnership is the first cooperation of its kind with the Thai educational sector. With strong collaboration and support from other parties, Microsoft hopes to help nurture and grow outstanding software innovations into new potential businesses. Read the rest of the story here.


4. China’s mobile gaming revenue will hit $8.3 billion in 2017

Niko research firm projects that mobile gaming revenues in China will grow 28 percent this year, and continue to grow in 2017, reaching US$8.3 billion. That’s good news for bigger developers, and in particular Tencent, which earns a whopping 53 percent of China’s mobile games revenue. Read the rest of the story here.


5. Jack Ma accepts offer to be ecommerce advisor to Indonesian Government

Ma will have to weigh several key factors upon accepting this position. How would helping Indonesia play in China? Read the rest of the story here.

Alibaba Group has confirmed that Jack Ma has accepted the offer and will serve as an economic advisor to the Indonesian government, reports Tech in Asia. The goal is to have Ma help develop the Southeast Asian country’s growing ecommerce industry.

Ma will be a part of Indonesia’s ‘steering committee’ consisting of 10 ministers.

“The thinking behind this is to make Indonesia’s positioning in the international marketplace more prominent,” Rudiantara, Indonesian Communication and Information Minister, said in a video released by the state secretariat.

Tech in Asia speculated that it was probable that Ma would accept the offer as Alibaba is clearly interested in Southeast Asia. The ecommerce giant bought a controlling stake in Lazada earlier this year and Lazada Indonesia already has a degree of Alipay integration since the deal finalized.

However, it is not clear to what Ma’s role would entail, as details regarding the ‘ecommerce advisor’ position has not been revealed by Alibaba Group or the Indonesian government.

There could be potential conflict of interest between his role as advisor and owner of Alibaba/Lazada, which competes with Indonesian players, many owned by ethnic Chinese conglomerates such like Djarum and Lippo. The company has not commented on this.

Ma will have to weigh several key factors upon accepting this position. How would helping Indonesia play in China? Chinese comments on a news story about Ma being offered the advisor position were full of anger at Indonesia, citing grievances ranging from the 1998 Indonesian riots that targeted ethnic Chinese to current South China Sea disputes.

This may be the best move yet for Alibaba Group’s strategic position in Southeast Asia.

A version of this was published in Tech in Asia on September 7. Read the full version here

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group is predicting a 48% rise in fiscal year 2017 in its first annual sales forecast, boosted by recent acquisitions and plans for expansion, reports USA Today.

The expected growth comes after major acquisitions of the video streaming service Youku Tudou and private ecommerce company Lazada Group, based in Singapore, within the past year.

Excluding the consolidated revenues from Youku and Lazada, the growth would be over 36%.

A bumpy year so far

After holding the biggest initial public offering in 2014, Alibaba faced a series of challenges last year – including lawsuits involving the sale of counterfeit goods –  sending its stock into a spiral. Shares fell as low as $57.20, undercutting its IPO price of $68, after the Chinese stock market crashed in August.

Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman, Jack Ma, said the key to the company’s long term growth will be expanding into international markets and investing in big data according to Alibaba’s website.

Ma aims to serve 2 billion people, create 100 million jobs around the world and have a valuation equivalent to the GDP of the fifth-richest country in four years.

“We have the world’s largest retailer, but we are not a retail business, we are a data business,” Ma said.

Possible risks to future growth include difficulty entering international markets, concentrated voting ownership and Chinese geopolitical concerns according to Stifel. China has criticized Alibaba for illegally allowing the sale of fake and forbidden goods.

Shares rose 3% Tuesday to $77.77 and continued to gain early Wednesday.

A version of this appeared in USA Today. Find the full article here.



Jabong,Rocket Internet’s Zalora for India, may be up for a merger, reports The Economic Times. The Indian fashion marketplace is allegedly in talks with competitors such Alibaba Group, Future Group and Flipkart owned Myntra, however the Jabong CEO, Sanjeev Mohanty, refused to comment.

Jabong was reportedly worth $1 billion in 2014. Now the fashion e-tailer’s valuation is barely worth $100 million. 

This is the second time that rumors of a Jabong acquisition made the news. In the same article, The Economic Times reported that Amazon was in talks to acquire the company for $1 billion in attempt to counter local player Flipkart’s acquisition of Myntra in 2014. However, the company’s current valuation is a fraction of that, approximately at $100 million. Although vastly different in numbers, the drop in valuation is reflective of Zalora Thailand and Vietnam’s modest acquisition by Central Group, for what was said to be $10 million for each country.

As commented by Quartz, 2014 was Jabong’s peak year, as the company was among the top two online fashion retailers in India, sharing the winning spot with Myntra. Since then, Jabong has struggled to regain its steam.

Myntra leaped ahead with funding from Flipkart, whilst Jabong struggled to attract funds to further fuel its business, making it harder to stay in the race with the other marketplace giant.

This news follows a string of M&As in India, as the ecommerce landscape in the country gets overcrowded with competing players. In a weakening investment environment, M&As have been increasingly common, especially in ecommerce.

Rocket Internet Jabong's possible merger

Ecommerce is leading the way in India’s M&As. Source: Quartz

In the last three months, online fashion retailer Voonik acquired four startups. Craftsvilla, an online store for ethnic product, acquired four.

[The M&A trend] will continue because the big players are now scouting for companies that compliment their offerings or add new segments. Rishabh Lawania, Founder of Xeler8

Due to the current tight investment landscape in India , small startups are struggling to raise funds like they have done in the past, which means they have to be more open to acquisitions. The money is beginning  to run dry in Southeast Asia as well as there are less and less Series B and above investment rounds happening.

If the speculation regarding Jabong is true, it will be the third Rocket Internet backed company to get acquired within the past month, after Lazada, Zalora and as Daraz & Kaymu recently announced a merger.

A version of this appeared in The Economic Times on July 4. Read the full article here.