Welcome back from the holidays, here are the latest ecommerce headlines to keep your mind refreshed for 2017:

1. 2016 WeChat Data Report reveals some interesting numbers

  • 768,000,000 daily logged in users
  • 35% YoY growth
  • 50% of users use WeChat 90mins a day
  • 67% YoY of total messages sent per day

2,350,000,000 ‘red packets’ (money) were sent over Lunar New Year’s Eve

As chat and mobile adopting grows in Southeast Asia, it is expected that more brands will begin selling on these platforms such as LINE. Consumers are already familiar with sending money through chat apps, why wouldn’t they feel comfortable making a purchase?

Find the rest of the report here.


2. Alibaba’s on-demand services arm, Koubei, raised funding?

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s on-demand services unit is close to securing $1.2 billion of funding for expansion after getting backing from first-time investors including Silver Lake Management and China’s sovereign wealth fund, people familiar with the matter said.

The latest round for Koubei, which deals in local services such as food delivery, will surpass a $1 billion target with backing from China Investment Corp., according to the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The round also includes Yunfeng Capital, a fund backed by Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, and values the two-year-old startup at about $8 billion, they said.

Koubei was set up by Alibaba and its financial services affiliate Ant Financial to compete with Meituan Dianping, a company valued at $18 billion in 2015 that deals in businesses such as movie ticketing and group-buying discounts. O

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Thailand 4.0, are you ready?

The government launched a new flagship policy called Thailand 4.0 that will be the master plan to free Thailand from the middle-income trap, making it a high-income nation in five years.

Thailand 4.0 has in fact become the buzzword among Thai businesses, recognised as a new engine of growth that will drive the country’s economy forward through high-tech industries and innovations that will push Thailand to produce high valued-added products and services.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI):

“The hardest thing is how to change the attitude of the Thai people and also the Thai industry. It is difficult to make them see that they need to be high-tech.”

Mr Chen said the government should support the development of online facilities in order to help expand ecommerce, e-payment, e-learning and e-documents, which will lead Thailand into a fully online platform to meet the 4.0 era.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thanks for joining us for the new year. If you enjoy reading insight articles, head to our Research & Insights section here.

India’s newest tech unicorn, messaging app Hike, announced that it has closed $175 million in funding increasing valuation to $1.4 billion, reports Tech Crunch.

The funding round was led by new investors, Chinese tech giant Tencent and manufacturing firm Foxconn. Tencent is the company that pioneered messaging with Chinese favorite, WeChat.

How does Hike work?

Born out of a joint venture between Bharti and SoftBank, Hike includes standard messaging app features, as well as free voice calling. The app emphasizes features such as privacy options to hide messages, and a function that allows users to send messages to non Hike users. The company heavily focuses its marketing on young people.

“Hike understands India, a highly diverse market with many nuances,” says Martin Lau, Tencent President.

Hike has stated that it has over 100 million registered users, 90% of whom are under 30 and send approximately 40 billion messages per month. 

Less like WhatsApp, more like Line

According to Hike’s founder, Kavin Bharti Mittal, every country has two messaging apps that do well, “there’s one that replaces SMS and one that does a lot more than that. Hike doesn’t even compete with WhatsApp, it is used very actively in addition to other apps.”

Hike has been focused on building differentiation from WhatsApp, which has largely retained a bare-basics approach to chat. It has left an option for a more integrated messaging app, in which Mittal has filled the gap with coupons and localized stickers within the app. Games attract over 100 million play sessions per month, and the news feature has 50 million plus users, and sees 1.5 billion stories viewed a month.

These added functions make Hike very similar to Asia’s favorite chat app, Line.

With Tencent’s involvement, Hike is likely to evolve into a ‘services’ app, reflecting Tencent owned WeChat’s numerous services which includes food delivery, ecommerce and much more.

According to Mittal, Hike is likely to introduce a payment solution within the next six to twelve months, among other new service offerings.

Hike is the only billion dollar social company in India, as of now.

 A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on August 16. Read the full version here.

Luxury watchmaker Roger Dubuis is luring Chinese consumers to their ideal watches through an interactive WeChat campaign, reports Luxury Daily.

However, there is no option to buy directly from the experience. This digital marketing initiative is boosting awareness and interaction with the brand, which can then lead to a purchase, but not directly from WeChat.

The “Daring Partner” campaign invites users to tap, swipe and shake their way tot the timepiece that is suitable for them. With more than 768 users on its  platform, WeChat offers luxury brands the opportunity to reach a wide range of consumers. Unlike Roger Dubuis, Christian Dior sold its iconic ‘Lady Dior’ handbags through WeChat.

The campaign is housed on an HTML 5 microsite within Roger Dubuis official account. After tapping a button on the landing page, consumers are brought to a screen that asks them to choose between two opposing images.

Luxury French fashion house Berluti also partnered up with WeChat to promote its footwear through a contest exclusive only through the chat app. Luxury brands that are looking to reach international audiences can run social campaigns within WeChat and share content directly in the platform.

A version of this appeared in Luxury Daily on August 12. Read the full version here.

Christian Dior has become the first luxury brand to sell top-end bags on WeChat, the most popular messaging and social network in China, offering its iconic Lady Dior bag on the platform, reports China Daily.

On Monday, the designer brand posted its limited edition small Lady Dior for the upcoming Qixi, or Chinese Valentine’s Day, which falls on Aug 9 this year. The bag sold out online on Tuesday. Dior offered a completely customizable shopping experience through the app.

For this limited edition, consumers can drag the online pictures of the decorations they want to the bag, tailor-making them to the needs. Buyers can directly purchase and pay through WeChat.

Since luxury brands can find their target consumers by WeChat’s big data, the largest social network in China, it’s easier for them to advertise and sell products through chat.

“Many brands are operating under pressure, and they would like to open the market through ecommerce platforms,” said Lu Zhenwang,CEO of Shanghai based Wanqing Consultancy.

“Even if sales were slow, brands could achieve results through marketing and branding,” Zhenwang adds.

Some other brands, including Cartier, International Watch Company, Montblanc and Longchamp, have already launched their online sales platforms on WeChat, and provided some special services and discounts.

According to China Luxury Forecast by global PR firm Ruder Finn Inc, 36% of respondents in China said they would like to buy luxury products online, rising 24% the previous year.

Dior needs to step up its sales and marketing outreach as it is under global pressure. In the first half of this year, the fashion house announced that its net profits fell 30.2% to $82.8 million.

A version of this appeared in China Daily on Aug 3.  Read the full version here.

Popular, but media shy Indonesia mobile ecommerce platform Sale Stock has launched a partnership with messenger platform Line, reports e27.

Aside from announcing the partnership, the companies also introduced two new features; credit card payment system and an AR-based ‘changing room’.

Sale Stock was also the first in Indonesia to implement a one-on-one chat feature to shop.

The partnership aims to leverage from Sale Stock customers’ preference to chat and shop. Line’s user profile (45% female) are seen as the perfect target audience to support this strategy. The shopping culture in Indonesia is characterized by three distinctive features:

  1. Heavy use of cash and bank transfer (only 1.4% of Indonesians own a credit card)
  2. Use of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook for SMEs as a channel to promote products
  3. The use of chat apps provides direct interaction with customers

In general, Southeast Asia is seeing a rise in the use of chatbots as a means for brands to interact closely with their audiences, as Southeast Asian customers are generally more comfortable communicating with customer service officers through messaging rather than self-browsing.

The AR-based ‘changing room’ function will be installed in various shopping mall across Jakarta. This function will allow users to try on available clothes on the Sale Stock platform, and purchase it directly from the machine installed at the mall.

Sale Stock is listed among the fastest growing ecommerce startups in Indonesia. The company provides imported, local and in-house fast fashion collections for women.

 A version of this appeared in e27 on July 27. Read the full version here.