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Recently in the news, Starbucks opened a new Roastery outlet on Nanjing Road in Shanghai last week begging the question, so what?

There’s nothing surprising about a new Starbucks in China, except this is now the world’s largest one at 30,000 sqm, twice the size of its counterparts in the US and will be the first-ever to incorporate in-store augmented reality (AR), thanks to China’s most influential internet company – Alibaba.

What can consumers do in this store powered by Alibaba’s technology and Mobile Taobao app?

  • Access a detailed map of the floors and menu with Alibaba’s location-based technology
  • Save favorite Starbucks products to their Mobile Taobao account
  • Scan key features around the Roastery to get information on coffee bars, brewing methods via animations
  • Earn a customized photo filter for sharing on social media
  • Ultimately, appeal to the digitally savvy Chinese audience

Sure, China is an attractive market to invest in but what is Starbucks planning with its“most ambitious project ever”?

An augmented reality app is used in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China. Photographed on Friday, December 1, 2017. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

Slow Growth Around the World

Starbucks second quarterly earnings reported $5.29 billion, short $120 million of the expected $5.41 billion. While the coffee giant has found great success in its 46 years because of its consistent and convenient services and products, the company has felt the squeeze of rising competition from convenience stores and fast-food chains like McDonalds aggressively improving the quality and pricing of its beverages and menu.

And so, to capitalize on a blue ocean, the company decided to focus on a region where coffee culture is only emerging

Revenue from Asia Pacific makes up almost 15% of Starbucks’ annual revenue, a 5.5% increase from five years ago.

It’s obvious to us that the holding power of China for Starbucks is going to be much more significant than the holding power of the US,” — Starbucks’ founder and Chairman Howard Schultz.

As the Chinese economy grows, Starbucks’ success does as well in a country where disposable incomes increase and the younger generation is attracted to quality-driven and unique brands that speak to who they are.

“For coffee, there’s a certain kind of ‘in-the-know’ from consumers who seek out these good boutique shops,” said Jack Chuang, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who studied the Chinese coffee market.

Although still predominantly a tea-drinking nation, China is rapidly developing a taste for coffee, an activity previously thought was for the affluent or Westerners.

Jack Ma’s New Retail Vision Reinforced Through Coffee

What does Alibaba get out of it?

It was as recent as Single’s Day when Jack Ma announced the ‘New Retail’ concept that aims to blur the line between conventional brick-and-mortar retail and ecommerce with the help of technology and data.

In the coming years, we anticipate the birth of a re-imagined retail industry driven by the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain,” — Jack Ma.

Alibaba’s HEMA Supermarkets already blur the line where consumers can shop for groceries online via the HEMA app and receive them within half an hour, or scan barcodes at the store, pay via the app, and set up delivery.

A shopper can easily scan barcodes in the store and pay for the products through the HEMA app before having them shipped home. Source: Alizila

Partnering with a highly influential brand like Starbucks and providing them with the right technology is Ma’s push for even faster digital adoption..

A survey has shown that 40% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through AR, and 71% claim that they would shop at a retailer more often if they offered AR.

Seems like Starbucks and Alibaba will be brewing some heavy money in China.

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

End of year is always the busiest time for the retail industry as businesses expect spikes in sales volumes before the official holidays start.

For online players, this period has resulted in some of the most famous annual holiday shopping events such as Cyber Monday, Alibaba’s Single’s Day, and Southeast Asia’s Online Revolution.

In Southeast Asia, the holiday period holds even more significance for ecommerce players as 40% of their sales are generated during the last three months of the year.

eMarketer expects holiday ecommerce sales in the US to jump 16.6% year on year (YoY) in 2017 driven by mobile commerce and competition created by large retailers and digital marketplaces.

Holiday sales Southeast Asia

At least four top marketplaces in Indonesia are holding a shopping event on November 11 (11/11).

In a recent survey conducted by BigCommerce involving 1,000+ brands operating online in the US, around 50% modestly expect up to a 25% sales increase compared to the holiday period last year.

5.4% of businesses expect more than 100% of sales increase. Source: BigCommerce

Some have aimed even higher for good reason.

15.5% of businesses surveyed expect a more than 50% of sales increase during this sales period — even as much as more than 100% sales increase compared to last year. Why?

According to Deloitte, online channels will capture 51% of US consumer budgets this holiday.

With higher sales targets comes more preparation to ensure each part of the ecommerce value chain is ready to handle possible concerns mainly regarding sufficient inventory (50.63%) and delivery expectation (45%).

To full proof operations, over 37% of businesses in the US started planning for this year’s holiday season 1 – 4 months earlier than they did last year.

3.14% of respondents are actually participating in holiday ecommerce sales for the first time. Source: BigCommerce

A lot of preparation is placed during the last few months leading up to the sales event, which for Southeast Asia is coming as soon as this weekend — November 11.

If we look to Southeast Asia, the region has its own holiday mega-sales to prepare for – 11.11 and 12.12 – where order volumes can uplift by almost 300%.

Is Southeast Asia ready for the holiday rush?

The ecommerce markets in US and Southeast Asia draw many similarities. For one, mobile commerce has driven the region’s retail growth for the last two years given the mobile-first behavior of its young population.

There is also enough competition to drive prices down (to ridiculous amounts) and incentivise consumers to shop. Taking a quick glance at advertisements from popular e-marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee indicate the amount of money being invested to capture consumer holiday spending.

Marketing of end year mega-sales in Southeast Asia. Source: Rappler (left), Shopee Singapore Facebook page (right)

Is your company ready?

Download the Holiday Ecommerce Sales Checklist here.

With the boom of technology in the region, Southeast Asia has become home to young startups, and investors hoping to help fuel its rapid growth.

Some examples of investment news surrounding the region only this year include Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com confirming a $500 million joint venture with Thai retailer Central to build up the ecommerce and fintech sector in Thailand; Malaysia Debt Ventures set aside a $238 million fund to target technology-based companies like AR, VR, etc; and 500 Startups has made its debut investment in Myanmar backing a social media monitoring and news discovery app.

A recent report commissioned by Google and AT Kearney also highlights just how much money has been funneled into the region, which market is the most attractive and where are the most deep-pocketed investors coming from.

Southeast Asia’s golden child

Although the investment for startup companies in Southeast Asia only contributed to 8% to the total $90 billion of investment into Asia, this value has grown 23 times from 2012 to 2016 from $0.3 billion to $6.8 billion.

Most of the money has been pumped into Singapore and Indonesia that captured 60% of the entire investment.

Indonesia startups investment

Singapore gained most of the startup investment in Southeast Asia

However, nothing shone brighter this year than the myriad of Indonesian startups that have been stealing the attention of global industry giants like Tencent, Expedia, and Tim Draper from Draper Associates who invested in the early days of Tesla, Baidu, and Skype.

The country has produced three startups that classify as a ‘unicorn’, a company valued at more than $1 billion. They are Traveloka, Tokopedia and Go-Jek.

The first is valued at $2 billion after a $350 million investment from Expedia in July, and both Tokopedia and Go-Jek also are worth around $1 billion and $3 billion respectively.

Where’s all the money coming from?

Attracting the Chinese investors

In a short span of four years time from 2012 to 2016, Indonesia has seen 31 times growth of investment value from $44 million to $1.4 billion. During 8 months in this year alone, this value has grown more than two times to $3 billion driven by later-stage investments.

Indonesia startups investment

The staggering growth has AT Kearney predicting the ecosystem could attract more investment than the oil and gas industry — which contributed $23.7 billion or 3.3% of the country’s GDP last year.

“Due to the massive growth, the value of startup investments in Indonesia may surpass the nation’s oil and gas investment which was $5 billion in 2016,” said AT Kearney partner, Alessandro Gazzini.

From all of the investment raised by Indonesian startups since 2012, ecommerce received the biggest chunk of gold taking 58% of the total investment value.

Transport and fintech quickly follow behind with 38% and 2% respectively.

Indonesia startups investment

Indonesia has also become a hotbed for the expansion of Chinese companies as the country sees a growing interest from Chinese investors this year.

94% of the startups investment in the country during 2017 have involved Chinese investors, up from only 2% last year. Two of the infamous Chinese BAT, Alibaba and Tencent, are raising stake in Indonesia by investing in Tokopedia and Go-Jek respectively.

Meanwhile, JD.com diversified its portfolios with investment in Traveloka making Indonesia the official battleground for Chinese companies to fight their proxy war.

Indonesia startups investment

The involvement of Chinese investors in Indonesia is something that the government has encouraged across all sectors. Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating has even set up a special China desk to attract more investors.

With the country still at a nascent digital stage, there is no precise measurement to find out the country’s true potential until company’s try but as the famed venture capitalist Tim Draper said about Indonesia, “it is a great place to be”.

Here’s ecommerce news you should know:

1. Alibaba sees massive customer growth

Alibaba released its Q2 results which saw the growth of its active users to 529 million on mobile platforms and 466 million on marketplaces, up from 22 million and 12 during the same period last year. 

Other important numbers to know from this quarterly report include:

  • Consolidated sales growth hit 56%  in the quarter to June 30, turnover reaching $7.4 billion;
  • Core ecommerce business activities grew by 58% to $6.347 billion, while the cloud computing business posted 96%;
  • Net income was $2 billion and an operating margin of 35%;
  • Alibaba’s cross-border and international consumer businesses achieved 136% growth.

The company also improving its digital media and entertainment division with the development of new business models and products in Youku and UCWeb.

Read the full story here.

2. LINE launched ‘Chat Live’ with to accommodate 200 people in a single group chat

LINE launched the latest update to its app by adding a livestreaming feature, called Chat Live, which can be used in group or multi-person chats of up to 200 people. 

Incorporating the feature to its platform is part of LINE’s ongoing efforts in providing users with rich communications experience.

The competition in the social comms space is accelerating and companies are pressured to develop more fun feature, like Snapchat’s recent play with augmented reality (AR) in its ‘real-time selfie lenses’. 

Read the full story here.

3. BSNL and MobiKwik launched mobile wallet for bill-payments and online transaction in India

BSNL and Mobikwik co-launched a mobile wallet to help over 100 million customers make bill payments and purchase online.

The app aims to increase financial inclusion the rural hinterlands and strengthen mobile payment in the urban area in India. Both BSNL and MobiKwik are confident they are on the right track.

The wallet app enables fast online recharges, bill payments, shopping and bus booking, among many other activities.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know today:

1. Tokopedia confirms $1.1B investment led by Alibaba

After months of fundraising rumors, Tokopedia confirms on its 8th anniversary yesterday that it has closed a $1.1 billion financial round.

Chinese ecommerce giant’s Alibaba led the investment and became the minor shareholder in Tokopedia. Both of the companies count Softbank as their mutual investors.

Before this deal is closed, Alibaba’s rival in China JD.com was also reportedly courting Tokopedia, but since then has shifted its focus to the niche players.

Read the full story here

2. Alibaba’s stock up over 81% this year

Alibaba beats analyst’s estimates with a 56% percent rise in its Q1 revenue, driven by growth in online sales.

86% of total revenue in Alibaba is made up from ecommerce business, up from 73% in the same period last year. The company is benefitting from the growing online shopping behaviors.

Alibaba raised its expectations for full year revenue growth to 45-49% as it has accelerated its ecommerce infrastructure in Southeast Asia, including investment in Lazada and recently Tokopedia.

Read the full story here.

3. Indonesia’s Laku6 in talks for $3M series A

Jakarta-based ecommerce for used-phone Laku6 is reportedly in discussions to raise up to $3 million by the beginning of Q4.

Laku6 has secured over $1.8 million in seed funding from Golden Gate Ventures (GGV) with participation from Kejora, Convergence Ventures, SkyStar Capita, and Rocket Internet.

The company is banking big on a new offering and expects to triple its revenue by the end of the year and claimed to have sold more than 20,000 units until now

Read the full story here.