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Here’s what you should know:

1. Indonesia’s ecommerce transactions reach $5.6 billion in 2016

Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo revealed that ecommerce transactions in the country amounted to $5.6 billion in 2016.

The immense growth potential of digital economy in the country was also indicated by 78% growth of the fintech industry in the last two years.

However, many things needed to be addressed to make business online more efficient. Internet penetration rate in Indonesia is still low if compared to neighbour countries. According to Statista, there 24.74 million of internet users in Indonesia.

Read the full story here

2. Amazon has joined Tencents to back new smartphone brand created by ex-Googler

Amazon has joined major Asian companies in backing Essential, the startup co-founded by Android-creator Andy Rubin that’s getting ready to sell a new smartphone.

Tencent and Foxconn Group took part in a $300 million funding round for Essential alongside Amazon’s Alexa Fund and Access Technology Ventures. Other backers included Redpoint Ventures, Altimeter Capital and Vy Capital.

Essential is looking to break into the increasingly competitive field of consumer electronics. The startup is said to be valued at $900 million to $1 billion.

Read the full story here.

3. Singapore DBS Bank launches online car portal

DBS Bank entered the car sales industry with the launch of its online consumer marketplace for car buyers and sellers dubbed as DBS Car Marketplace.

The move came after the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) announcement to make it easier for banks to invest in non-financial sector.

Partnering with other car marketplaces sgCarMart and Carro, sellers who use DBS’ platform will be able to list on both marketplace for free.

Read the full story here.

Outside of the world’s tech ecosystems, the digitization of retail hasn’t always been met with positive reviews. There is a fear of automation taking jobs away from humans, and that fear swells as brick and mortar stores go out of business. Are they warranted?

Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US and reporting by The New York Times show that ecommerce actually has added more retail jobs than traditional models over the last 14 years.

The large change in percentage of ecommerce related jobs in the US over 14 years. Source: The New York Times

During his meeting with the President of the United States, Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma shared his goal to create jobs in the US over five years to focus trade between the US and Southeast Asia.

“Alibaba will create 1 million U.S. jobs by enabling 1 million American small businesses and farmers to sell American goods to China and Asian consumers on the Alibaba platform,” the company said in a statement.

Although ambitious, it’s also quite possible for a company that had more than 10 million active sellers in 2015, and estimates its China retail marketplaces “contributed to the creation of over 15 million job opportunities.”

“Machines should only do what humans cannot,” said Jack Ma. “Only in this way can we have the opportunities to keep machines as working partners with humans, rather than as replacements.”

Not only has there been an increase in ecommerce related jobs in the last ten years, these jobs on average also come with a better pay check – roughly 30% more than traditional retail jobs as averaged by one economist (all based on US figures).

Taking into account only Alibaba stock given to in-house employees, Fortune reports each person was paid roughly $11,134 in the latest quarter, a 6% bump in bonus pay per head compared to the previous year – more than double the average American’s raise last year.

Comparison of jobs created by traditional retail models and ecommerce. Source: The New York Times

While ecommerce is growing, its labor force still represents a relatively small chunk compared to traditional stores but given how interconnected multi-channel retail has become,

How do you categorize a sales clerk that assists a shopper ordering online through an iPad?

And so, where do we stand?

Unsurprisingly, all of these conclusions have been met with skeptics but recent news reporting Amazon’s aim to hire 50,000 workers in one day is a positive sign that ecommerce will always have room for a human workforce.

To put this figure in relative terms, the US Labour Department reported that 220,000 jobs were added to the US economy in June. Amazon will fulfil a quarter of this total in a single recruitment event.

This Quartz headline puts it best,


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Here’s what you should know:

1. Grab starts full operations in Myanmar

After four-month trial period, Grab has begun full operations in Myanmar by launching localised apps with new safety and technology features.

Myanmar is the seventh market for Grab where it already has 5,000 drivers registered in its Myanmar’s network. The drivers is said to have seen 30% growth in their average income during the trial period.

Grab is also rolling out GrabVenue terminals at major shopping malls in Yangon that will allow customers without a smartphone to access the service.

The company claimed to have more than 1.1 million drivers in 65 cities across the seven countries and has recently raised $2 billion to strengthen its operations in Southeast Asia.

Read the full story here.

2. Malaysia’s parliament passed two bills legalizing e-hailing services 

Malaysia’s parliament passed two bills that will legalize the e-hailing services like Grab and Uber in the country.

The amendments will allow the services to operate on an “intermediation business license”, a new category specific for the service.

The new license will regulate “the business of facilitating arrangements, bookings or transactions of an e-hailing vehicle whether for any valuable consideration or money’s worth or otherwise”, according to Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Act and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) bill.

The bill is supported by the cabinet even as taxi driver associations protested. The CVLB had previously declared that both Uber and Grab drivers were operating illegally in the country.

Read the full story here.

3. Amazon’s entry into Singapore marred by delivery problem

The company is unable to deliver goods to customers in Singapore after introducing its Prime Now two-hour delivery service in the state-country.

As of Friday afternoon, its Prime Now app was telling users that “delivery is currently sold out. Check back soon.” The service appeared to go down hours after its official launch on Thursday, according to media reports.

The company launched Prime Now app for customers in Singapore where they can shop and get tens of thousands of items delivered to their door with free delivery on orders of more than S$40 ($29). The service is available for trial for free for a limited time in Singapore, before the company rolls out its Prime membership program.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know today:

1. Shoppers at Qoo10 can now insure against defective goods

A new partnership between Qoo10 and local insurer NTUC Income will allows shoppers at Qoo10 Singapore to purchase insurance protection against defective or malfunctioned electronic goods worth at least S$100 or $73,58.

The insurance policy offers customers added protection and assurance when purchasing electronic products. Customers have the option to add on Purchase Guard as a product warranty for over 250,000 items on the Qoo10 website.

The premiums for the Purchase Guard policy are within a range of 5 and 8 percent of the retail price of the product, and final pricing will depend on whether the insurance coverage period is for three or six months.

Read the full story here.

2. Expedia is investing $350 million in Traveloka

Expedia has reportedly invested $350 million in Indonesian online travel booking site Traveloka, which also the biggest local online travel portal in Southeast Asia.

Traveloka is raising the total of $400 million, including Expedia’s. The financing round will put the valuation of Traveloka at $2 billion.

Traveloka is present in Southeast Asian markets and has so far received two funding rounds, one seed round led by East Ventures and one by Global Founders Capital, and retailer JD.com.

In Southeast Asia, Expedia also invests in a joint-venture with Malaysia’s AirAsia.

Read the full story here.

3. Amazon’s stock surges, Jeff Bezos became the richest guy on earth 

Amazon’s shares skyrocketed in overnight trading, with the opening at about $1.066, up about $16 (1.5%) from their close on Wednesday, July 26.

That price hike was enough to made Bezos rise the top and surpass Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, as the world’s richest person. Bezos owns over 80 million shares of Amazon, which after today’s hike, are worth over $86 billion.

In addition to Amazon, Bezos’ net worth also stretch to his stake in the Washington Post and space company Blue Origin.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know today:

1. Amazon Prime Now launched in Singapore offering two-hours delivery

Amazon officially launched its service in Southeast Asia starting with Singapore. The company is also rolling out its express, same-day delivery Prime Now services.

The service will see Singaporeans get their orders delivered as fast as one-hour in some areas. The app is available for download in Singapore both on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App store.

Prime Now is a part of Amazon Prime membership but Amazon is making this available for non-members in Singapore for a limited period of time.

Read the full story here.

2. Didi combined valuation with its allies in Asia is likely worth more than Uber’s

Valued at $68 billion, Uber still holds the title of the world’s most valuable private tech company. But the number two Didi Chuxing is catching up, especially with its latest investment in Grab.

Didi and Grab latest valuations combined are worth $48.5 billion.

If you add the latest valuation of Didi’s allies in Asia like India’s Ola ($3.6 billion) and Lyft ($6.9 billion) the combined value of the firms already exceeds Uber’s.

Read the full story here

3. Visa opens new data center in Singapore

Global payments company Visa is expanding its transaction processing capabilities by opening the new data centers in Singapore and the U.K.

The new global processing hubs will increase the speed, resilience and geo-diversity of Visa’s infrastructure. The Singapore and UK data centers will complement Visa’s existing processing facilities in North America.

“With our technology investments in Asia and Europe, we’re scaling up our infrastructure to meet the explosive growth in digital and mobile payments, while maintaining the secure, convenient and always-on service that our clients and partners expect.” said Rajat Taneja, executive vice president of technology at Visa.

Read the full story here

[Updated July 27 11:12am]: A light version of Amazon Prime, Prime Now has become available in the App Store for Singaporeans (previously only a redirect) as well as the website is live: https://www.amazon.com.sg/primenow.

Updated July 26 6:23pm]: The Amazon Prime Now app has become available to download in Singapore (Prime Now is the two-hour delivery service for Prime members meaning). It can only be downloaded through primenow.amazon.com redirect.

Amazon in Singapore

Amazon Prime Now app now available for download in Singapore.

Amazon in Singapore

Available inventory for Amazon Singapore Prime Now.

Recent headlines, first reported by TechCrunch, say that the US retail giant is finally (finally) coming to Southeast Asia, Singapore first.

There hasn’t been any official word from Amazon as the company told e27 it would not comment on speculation.

Taking a look at the Amazon website for job postings in Singapore also hasn’t given any further signs of an aggressive hiring spree for local retail employees though it would be wise to keep an eye for updates.

So what points to the retailer’s confirmation landing in Singapore?

Social media influencers.

Popular accounts such as “theramengirl” and “superadrianme“, each with thousands of followers have posted sponsored photos in the last week alluding to Amazon’s Prime service soon to be available in Singapore.

Amazon in Singapore

Source: superadrianme

Amazon in Singapore

Where could that familiar ‘a to z’ blue packaging be from? Source: theramengirl

Impact of Amazon in Singapore

Everyone, e-marketplaces and traditional retailers alike, has been holding their breath ever since the circulation of Amazon’s Singapore Q1 launch rumours began in November 2016.

It’s not wrong to be worried if one has followed the disruption caused by Amazon in the US retail industry. Brick and mortar businesses have filed for bankruptcy, 25% of shopping malls in the US are expected to shut down by 2022, and brands (Nike) that were likely to never go ‘marketplace-strategy’ have hopped onto The Everything Store to gain control over third-party pricing and distribution.

In Southeast Asia, ambitious plans to build more stores in the next five months by retailers in Thailand may slow down. Service providers, namely logistics players with strong regional networks, are ready to offer a helping hand in Amazon’s initial business growth but should stay weary if the giant plans to replicate its impressive logistics network in-house in the region.

Alibaba has recently doubled down on its Southeast Asian efforts by investing another $1 billion in Lazada for 83% stake and rumoured to be competing with JD.com Inc to lead a funding round in Tokopedia, one of Indonesia’s largest marketplaces.

JD.com Inc, China’s number two ecommerce player has also announced plans to enter Thailand by end of the year to increase their regional footprint.

Lazada, arguably the leading online retailer in Southeast Asia, began offering a Prime-like membership program called LiveUp in April in hopes of keeping customers loyal.

Sign-ups for the program have been quite healthy, tells a source from Lazada to eIQ.

Aimone Ripa di Meana, co-founder and Chief Marketplace Officer at Lazada, recently commented that Lazada was confident about its position in the region.

“It’s not an easy balance [being local and nimble], but it’s something that we’ve invested a lot of time to get to and I don’t think it’s acquired or built in a day,” says Aimone.

Shopee, another strong contender affected by news of Amazon’s arrival, has also been quite active in strong arming its retail strategy. The once only C2C marketplace announced “Shopee Mall” earlier this month, a new in-app platform that follows the same Lazada B2C model and already offers products from over 200 brands.

Shoppers can enjoy free shipping with no minimum spend and a 15-day return policy when they make a purchase. But will it all be enough?

Survival in one of the last battlegrounds Amazon has not yet stepped into will boil down to which company has successfully created a loyal fan base by fulfilling promised perks of fast shipping, cheap prices and an endless assortment of products.

These are already the cornerstones of Amazon thanks to Bezos’ long-standing and highly touted ‘customer obsession’ and what will ultimately give them an advantage in acquiring shoppers without any heavy marketing

For those holding their breath, it’s time to let it go because the “Amazon Effect” is coming.

Amazon in Singapore

And you’re done. Source: Flickr


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