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Here’s what you should know today:

1. Singapore-based ShopBack expands to Thailand

Cashback startup Shopback has announced its official expansion to Thailand – making it the sixth markets in Southeast Asia.

There are currently over 100 merchants in its Thai platform to date, including big names like Expedia, Booking.com, Sephora, Pomelo, Lazada, Grab, and Uber. Consumers can expect to receive maximum 30% of rebate when using ShopBack.

Besides Thailand, ShopBack also present in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan. The company currently has 3 million users and has paid over $10 million in cashback to its customers.

Read the full story here

2. Amazon Prime Day breaks record, sales grew by more than 60% 

Amazon announced that its third annual Prime Day was its biggest day ever, with sales grew by more than 60% from the same period last year and surpassed its 2016 Black Friday and Cyber Monday results.

However, the results maybe skewed as last year’s event was shorter as it was only last for 24 hours (compared to this year’s 30 hours) and involved fewer countries. However, the results is still notably impressive given that July tends to be a sluggish time for retailers.

Amazon has successfully using Prime Day to drive both sign-ups for its annual Prime membership and promote its products.

Read the full story here

3. JD.com can soon replace Baidu’s place among China’s internet giants

JD.com has experienced a very good year so far as the recorded strong revenue growth and signed a major partnership deal Farfetch, a global luxury fashion site. For these reasons, the analysts are predicting JD.com will soon overtake Baidu in term of market capitalisation.

JD.com is also gaining ground in market share. While Alibaba’s Tmall controls nearly half (48.5%) of China’s B2C ecommerce market, JD.com now controls 33.8% market share, according to figures from iResearch China.

Their recent partnership with Farfetch will also gives JD.com a significant boost over Alibaba as it will reinforced JD.com’s reputation for authentic and high-quality goods, an issue that continues to plague Alibaba.

Read the full story here

 

THE HISTORY

The company synonymous with denim goes back far in time. Levi Strauss & Co essentially crafted the first pair of blue jeans in 1873 and marked Levi’s as a heritage brand, and its creator, Levi Strauss as the inventor of the quintessential American garment.

The first pair was made from denim, the traditional fabric for men’s workwear and they became a fast success, originally known as ‘overalls’ until the 1960s until baby boomers coined the garment, ‘jeans’ instead.

Fast forward over a hundred years with the rise of various designer denim brands like Seven For All Mankind and True Religion and fast fashion, the company needs to re-introduce itself to the next wave of shoppers.

Now, in 2017, the household name employs a salesforce of 22,000, 50 plants and offices across 35 countries. Levi’s is making a comeback by leveraging the rise athleisure, the return of the classic, worn-out denim jacket and today’s digital tools.

The first Levi’s location in 19th century

THE INNOVATION

Levi’s first innovation was the creation of the 501 denim jeans itself, back in the 1870s, for working men.

In 2002, Robert Hanson, former Levi’s President, began focusing on women after Levi’s overall sales has plummeted 40%, from $7.1 billion in 1996 to $4 billion at the end of 2002.

He also reached out to 14,000 individuals and got them to try on Levi’s in order to design the perfect fit for different body types, including ‘sexier’ styles for men. Hanson also deployed two brands, Red Line and Pure Blue, with a price range of $35-95.

“We’ve been accused of trying to be everything to everybody in the past,” admits Hanson. “This time, we have to be one thing to everybody.”

The company’s makeover also included the layout of its offline stores. Walk into any Levi’s and notice its jeans are stored the way you would display fine wines or valuable relics. But was this enough against the newer, flashier denim brands?

“Levi’s is going to have to prove to people that the product is competitive from a style and quality standpoint, and that has to be based on something more than the heritage of Levi’s, which seems to be their endless fallback position,” said Hamilton South, partner at luxury consulting firm HL Group.

THE STRATEGY

The digital age has allowed the company to experiment.

Earlier this year, Levi’s partnered with Google to launch Project Jacquard, a tech ‘wearable’ collab between the two. Wearers can control certain actions on their smartphone by tapping and swiping a nearly invisible fabric touch interface woven into the left wrist of the classic Levi’s denim jacket.

Project Jacquard from Levi’s x Google

The Jacquard jacket will sell for $350 this fall.

“Expect digital assistants, cellular connectivity, and connections to larger systems, both at home and at work. At the same time, expect to see a proliferation in the diversity of devices brought to market, and a decline in prices that will make these more affordable to a larger crowd,” says IDC Wearable’s team research manager Ramon T. Llamas.

More recently, Levi’s has become a part of Amazon Prime Wardrobe, the new initiative for Prime customers to order items to their home to try on without buying.

President and CEO Chip Bergh said in a statement. “Our direct-to-consumer business continues to drive our results with both brick and mortar and ecommerce growing double digits.”

In Q3 2016, Levi’s reported that net income rose 69%, partly due to cost cutting efforts and rising revenues. Revenue growth was mainly due to direct to consumer sales, which grew 14% for both offline store sales and ecommerce.

IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Levi’s has recently emphasized ecommerce in the region, through a shop-in-shop on Lazada Thailand, and a brand.com earlier this year with ecommerce enabler, aCommerce.

Levi’s pop-shop, implemented by aCommerce

aCommerce shares that the brand tested the market with a popshop first – a simple branded landing page where customers can choose to buy from a few items. The positive feedback reinforced the brand’s decision to commit to ecommerce as another distribution channel alongside its 77 offline stores in Thailand.

Levi’s also has shop-in-shops on Lazada’s platforms in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In Malaysia, Levi’s partnered with music streaming service, Deezer, to introduce its 2015 fall women’s denim collection. A custom built Levi’s in-app page was created via the Deezer platform, including a nationwide contest to encourage consumers to submit empowering songs to a collective playlist called #LadiesinLevisMY, which went viral on social media.

Levi’s x Deezer campaign, Malaysia 2015

THE FUTURE

Levi’s is conditioning its relevancy in the fashion world through a digital strategy to boost its classic products i.e. the 501 jeans and remain relevant. At the same time, while rightfully refusing to discard its heritage.

It might want to rethink the Google jacket though.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon will now let you try clothes at home

For many people, buying clothing online is not worth the hassle of getting a pair of pants or a shirt that does not fit.

The company revealed a new program called Prime Wardrobe that allows people to order clothing — from three to 15 items at a time — without actually buying it.

Amazon will charge them only for the items they keep. Customers can return the items they don’t want in a resealable box with the preprinted shipping label that the order came in.

The service will be an option only for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s membership service.

By the end of this year, analysts expect that Amazon will become the largest apparel retailer in the United States, at a time when many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are closing stores or filing for bankruptcy.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Alibaba execs: ‘Don’t mistake us for Amazon’

China holds massive opportunity for U.S. sellers, Alibaba executives told 3,000 small-business players from 48 states at a conference it hosted in Detroit this week.

Alibaba’s new customers are more likely to hail from Asia and emerging markets rather than from the U.S. or Europe.

Earlier this month, Alibaba executives told investors that it’s targeting revenue growth between 45% and 49% for the current fiscal year. In the last fiscal year, Alibaba generated free-cash flow of $10 billion, which Alibaba Group CFO Maggie Wu said would be plowed back into the company to gain B2C market share.

In Detroit, the Chinese ecommerce giant took that message to the smaller businesses that it sees as having potential for growth, even in the relatively small terrain of the U.S.

The Chinese company seems also to be creating an ecommerce infrastructure that is more social and interactive beyond search. The company has essentially grown into an economy unto itself, fueled by Chinese consumers’ comfort with interacting with retailers on mobile.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Uber’s lesson: Silicon Valley’s start-up machine needs fixing

Travis Kalanick’s spectacular rise and fall at Uber contains many lessons for the technology industry. But one lesson should rise above the others: This was not just Mr. Kalanick’s failure — it was far bigger.

What happened at Uber is an indictment of everyone who enabled Mr. Kalanick’s worst tendencies and practices, which is just about everyone in a position of power at the ride-hailing company and its funders.

It adopted a more aggressive posture in dealing with forces outside the company — competitors, regulators, drivers and everyone else. By managing drivers as contractors rather than actual employees, it accelerated a new way of thinking about labor.

Staying private created a hothouse that reinforced its worst side, and allowed it to delay building a sustainable culture with a focus on long-term interests.

Read the rest of the story here.

As you may have already realized, Amazon’s recent $13 billion acquisition of Whole Foods is more than about groceries. By adding an enormous offline groceries chain and its customers attention to its repertoire, the retail beast moves closer to becoming a real one-stop destination for all consumer needs.

Slate puts it best, “Scale, meet scale. Logistics, meet logistics. Loyal customer base, meet loyal customer base.”

Before this, Amazon was already banking on America’s $800 billion grocery business via Amazon Fresh; it’s key competitors being Instacart, FreshDirect, Google Express and Blue Apron.

An Amazon Prime member can now receive everything he or she needs within two hours or shorter depending on their location; a feat these other grocery delivery services will find it tough to beat. 

This move will further reinforce consumer behavior of searching for products directly on Amazon rather than a typical search engine – behavior already witnessed in Indonesia.

This acquisition also puts in Amazon’s hands customer data from a network of shoppers that ring up $300 million in sales across North America. 

Why else would Facebook partner with Dunnhumby, a grocery data firm in 2016 to learn more about how Facebook advertising incentivizes purchases?

The grocer, most importantly, also has veteran experience and knowledge on sourcing and storing fresh food that can help Amazon’s “wasteful” Amazon Fresh operations and improve the entire customer experience, a staple to Bezos’ business philosophy.

Bloomberg reported that workers at Amazon Fresh threw away about a third of the bananas it purchased because the service only sold the fruit in bunches of five. Employees trimmed each bunch down to size and chucked the excess.

“There’s just not a lot of demand there. The whole premise is that you’re saving people a trip to the store, but people actually like going to the store to buy groceries,” said Kurt Jetta, chief executive officer of TABS Analytics, a consumer products research firm.

The grocery game can’t be won by trucks and websites alone. Whole Foods gets two-thirds of its sales from fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, whilst other supermarkets gets only 25% of sales from those fresh categories.

“Whole Foods as a kind of guinea pig for Amazon — a pricey, organically sourced one, perhaps, but a guinea pig all the same.” – NY Times

Whole Foods’ grocery-distribution infrastructure is already expected to act as Amazon’s grocery-distribution infrastructure and will incorporate the e-tailers technological capabilities to streamline the checkout process at Whole Foods to possibly push the long-awaited “cashier-less” Amazon Go concept.

What does this mean for everyone?

Following the announcement of Amazon’s acquisition, grocery chains’ stock took a tumble on Friday. Walmart stores Inc. fell 4.7%, while US retailer Kroger Co. dropped 9.2%.

Payment companies such as Square.Inc also fell over the concern that the acquisition will lessen the importance of traditional payment methods.

The value of the industry should reflect grocery players across the globe, also counting those investing in countries such as Singapore and Thailand. The acquisition may not have a direct impact on Southeast Asian grocery players yet, but it represents how change could come in the future as Amazon is rumored to launch in Singapore and Lazada’s acquisition of RedMart.

If grocery players remain purely within their vertical, it could make them vulnerable to an acquisition or worse, once an all encompassing, data hungry giant makes it way into the market.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods can serve as validation to how important consumer data, logistics, payments and an integrated value chain is, for small players that do not have this, it will be difficult for them to exist in the future.


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Here’s what you know today.

1. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods isn’t just about groceries

Amazon will buy Whole Foods for more than $13 billion.

The Whole Foods purchase changes the landscape dramatically. Suddenly Amazon owns a nationwide network of already-popular grocery stores that have already solved the tricky logistical problems involved in sourcing and storing fresh food.

What Amazon brings is the world’s largest online sales portal and its mastery of the home-delivery business. Scale, meet scale. Logistics, meet logistics. Loyal customer base, meet loyal customer base.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon launches Prime Reload, offering 2% back on purchases funded through debit cards

Amazon today is launching a new perk for Prime members that will give them cash back on purchases – even if they’re not paying for items using an Amazon cashback credit card.

Through a new rewards program called Amazon Prime Reload, Prime members can receive 2 percent back on purchases when they first load funds into their Amazon Balance using a debit card attached to their bank’s checking account.

Amazon Prime Reload is meant to encourage more people to sign up for Prime, the $99 per year membership program that includes free, 2-day shipping on millions of products, plus same-day shipping in select markets.

Amazon Prime Reload has another advantage for the retailer, as well – it may encourage people to load large lump sums into their Amazon Balance, in order to ensure they never accidentally pay for an item through their debit or credit card directly, therefore missing out on the cash back option.

Is this an indication that Amazon is working towards becoming a bank and payments platform? We think so.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Wall Street Is betting against Tesla and Alibaba like never before

The two day tech stock sell-off has come to a stop, with major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix all rebounding slightly in trading Tuesday.

While that’s good news for investors who held onto their shares, it’s less so for short sellers, who reap winnings by betting on a stock’s fall. Tech companies Alibaba, Tesla, and Apple are now the three most shorted stocks in the world, according to S3 Partners head of research Ihor Dusaniwsky.

with Alibaba and Tesla in particular, Wall Street’s bets against those stocks have never been higher, Dusaniwsky says.

 It remains to be seen if tech companies can meet investors’ lofty expectations. Mizuho analysts downgraded shares of Apple to “hold” Monday, while Morgan Stanley recently did the same for shares of Tesla.
Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Bid to tax ecommerce on fast track to reality in Thailand

A draft bill on taxing ecommerce operators and social media networks will go before the cabinet this month, a step to ensure that the law will be enforced under the current government.

The draft bill will authorise the Revenue Department to tax online transactions; advertising fees on social media such as Facebook, Google and Line; and activity by other operators such as ride-sharing service Uber.

Under the draft bill, money changing hands from online purchases for goods and services, advertising on social networking and Uber, and transfers by senders or recipients in Thailand will see the 5% withholding tax imposed.

Read the rest of the story here.