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Seasoned entrepreneurs from multiple ecommerce companies at Echelon Thailand 2017 discussed how ecommerce in Southeast Asia has developed so far and where it is heading.

On the panel: Orami Group CEO Jeremy Fichet, Box24 CEO & founder Nithipont Bond Thaiyanurak, honestbee Thailand country manager Bounthay Khammanyvong and Pomelo co-founder & CFO Casey Liang revealed some of the trends that they expect will influence the region’s ecommerce businesses in the next few years.

Here are the key takeaways:

1. Customers are getting more demanding and sophisticated

The tide is slowly turning from a few years ago when customers were more accepting if their order was late or inaccurate as ecommerce was so new.

“As we’ve honed our skills and elements of ecommerce, customers are now freaking out if anything is slightly off or wrong. Customers are becoming more and more demanding,” says Bounthay.

Customers are also getting more sophisticated with technology as other channels such as social media has improved product discovery. Companies can choose to ship to anywhere in the world to reach a global market.

“People are finding our products a lot faster and they’re willing to purchase from anywhere in the world,” says Casey.

2. Ecommerce players are gaining strength

The line between online and offline players has been blurred in the past few years as brick-and-mortar retailers are exploring digital channels and pure ecommerce players are looking to build an offline presence.

“Pure online players have more flexibility to expand their growth offline through different partnerships. If we look at the top 10 retailers in the US, Amazon is likely #2 or #3. In China, #1 and #2 will be Alibaba and JD.com,” says Jeremy.

“I’m pretty sure that in Southeast Asia, half the top 10 retailers will be ecommerce pure players in 5-10 years,” he continues.

3. Reaching for an optimal omni-channel mix

Pomelo’s Casey noted that a channel strategy comes down to selling a product and the shopping experience customers go through to reach that point. Sometimes, online doesn’t always work.

“Purchasing media is pretty much online, purchasing travel also makes sense online but when you look at physical products like fashion that is very tangible, people want to try it on and feel it.”

“There are benefits being online that you don’t get shopping offline. If you want to find a silver dress with pleats, you can go to the mall and spend hours looking around for it or you can lay in bed and easily find exactly what you’re looking for on your phone. Obviously, when you want to try it on and see how it fits, then offline comes in. We [Pomelo] are still trying to figure out what is the optimal hybrid strategy, ” says Casey.

The company recently opened its first pop shop to allow its customers to ‘experience’ its fashion pieces offline in Singapore.

4. Convenience ecommerce – the next big thing?

“I believe convenience ecommerce will be the next big wave. What we see in the market is businesses asking how can we add value to people’s lives? And one of the key things how to do it is by helping them save time – helping them focus on the important things like family, rather than running errands,” says Bounthay.

Read more #EchelonTH2017 coverage by eIQ with Dr. Alex Lin from SGInnovate here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Thailand’s Box24 is moving beyond laundry service

Through Box24, customers simply had to deposit the laundry, make a payment, track the status of their laundry through the mobile app and pick-up when its ready.

Founder Bond Thaiyanurak saw potential in his startup, and soon looked to explore into other verticals under the Box24 brand.

For ecommerce delivery, Box24 partnered with leading retail chainsTesco and BigC to launch a service called ShopBox24. For parcel delivery, it partnered with delivery company Kerry Express to deploy MoveBox24.

Box24 will also be deploying personal storage services with Kerry this year.

Regionally, there are already a handful of ecommerce lockers available, but Box24 differentiates itself by building hardware in-house. “We have a very different business model from other players — we are selling the lockers,” said Thaiyanurak.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Pypestream raises $15M series A for its customer messaging platform

 Pypestream has expanded to offer messaging capabilities in businesses’ own apps and elsewhere. This goes beyond just sending text and images — users can also make payments, schedule appointments and send files directly from the messaging window.

“Brands thought, or agencies think, that people actually want to have general conversations with businesses and brands that aren’t specific to utility or aren’t specific to a need,” founder Smullen said.
“Just as a consumer, I don’t need to have a general conversation with Nike — but if my sneakers are broken, then my conversation with Nike is very necessary.”
Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. SCB Fintech Forum reveals key industry trend in Asia

According to key panelists at SCB’s fintech forum held on 28 February, agriculture tech and healthcare will become more prominent this year. We should be seeing the integration of big data which will help drive more movement within agriculture, including new digital platforms that will fund agritech projects.

Doctor-on-demand will also be introduced on a larger scale in Asia.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

4. BCBG Max Azria files for bankruptcy

Fashion house BCBG Max Azria Group LLC has filed for bankruptcy protection , the latest casualty in the struggling U.S. retail sector, as shoppers abandon malls in favor of internet shopping.

The company is taking steps to close its freestanding stores in Canada and consolidate its operations in Europe and Japan, in addition to the 120 retail stores closed as part of the restructuring efforts.

The re-shuffling will allow the company to hone in on customer shopping patterns, selected retail locations and ecommerce, a spokesperson for BCBG said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story here.