Here’s what you should know:

1. Amazon is expanding to South Korea

It is reported that Amazon has hired dozens of full-time employees, including marketing, sales, technical support and service support related to online shopping business in Korea.

The company had also a discussion with one of Korean financial companies in relation to electronic payment settlement. It is presumed that Amazon’s Korean branch is preparing to engage ecommerce business in Korea.

A speculation about Amazon expansion in Korean market has been heard over the past four to five years.

With Amazon entering Southeast Asia from Singapore, Korea is now the only remaining market in Asia with India. Amazon is already showing a rapid growth in Japan and failed to land in China.

Read the full story here

2. Google’s Go Global initiative aims to train 2,500 SMEs 

Google announced the expansion of its Go Global initiative, launched in 2015, with a commitment to train 2,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be digitally and export-ready by 2019.

The scheme will now includes access to dedicated marketing consultants for advice on growing businesses through online media besides developing ecommerce capabilities.

Google’s new partnerships with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) will also help to reach a larger pool of SMEs. Go Global’s offerings will now be available to NTUC’s and SiTF’s combined base of 13,650 member companies.

Read the full story here

3. Shiseido is launching Nars in China through online

Japanese company Shiseido will release its high-end cosmetics brand Nars in China to attract new customers as the country’s income levels rise.

Shiseido will begin online sales through WeShop, a popular Chinese ecommerce site, at the end of August and offer its selections of  foundation, lipstick, eyeliner. Shiseido predicts Chinese sales will improve 14% on a local currency basis.

Nars became a Shiseido subsidiary in 2000. The brand mainly sells in department stores throughout around 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia. Nars is also sold in Hong Kong, but not in Mainland China.

Read the full story here

Hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd said on Thursday it plans to invest $150.6 million (1 billion RMB) in ecommerce development over the next two years, reports Reuters

The joint venture between Taiwanese conglomerate Ruentex Group and French retailer Groupe Auchan SA said net profit was $211.11 million (1.43 billion yuan) in January to June, down from 1.47 billion yuan profit in the first half of 2015.

Sun Art’s first-quarter profit was 1.03 billion yuan.

“The competitive environment of retail industry is driven by the rapid growth in ecommerce while retail market consolidation is still challenging,” it said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

In February, it said it would scale back on new store openings in the mainland this year as it grapples with a challenging retail environment, while it expects a greater contribution to sales from ecommerce.

Executive director Peter Huang, speaking at an earnings briefing, also said he expects the company’s ecommerce business to break even in 2020-2021.

A version of this appeared in Reuters on August 10. Read the full version here.

Singapore based media site e27 has raised $2.2 million Series A round led by TechTemple Group, the company announced on its website. Other investors include Linear Venture, Convergence Ventures. Venturecraft and Spacemob.

Mainly known as a tech focused media outlet, co-founder and CEO Mohan Belani insists that media is only a small part of what e27 represents.

From day one, e27 has always been an ecosystem builder. We’ve always had a vision of creating products offline and online that would help us achieve that vision. 

The company has launched jobs platforms, a startup and investor database, and a B2B marketplace. e27 is also the company behind the Echelon series of startup and investor conferences. Belani clarifies,

“At this point, the natural direction for us is to weave the online and offline functions in order to create a full-fledged, interactive ecosystem product, not just an uni-directional digital media.”

Bridging the gap between China and Southeast Asia is crucial

China has impressive market opportunities, made up of companies and people who have accomplished what Southeast Asia is currently trying to do. e27 aims to collaborate with its new investors, who are based in China, and provide more know-how towards the landscape, the language, network and professional interest barriers.

Currently, there are mid-sized and growth sized startups in China that are interested in expanding into Southeast Asia. The trend is being led by tech titans such as Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, who have successfully paved ways into the booming market. e27 wishes to drive the growth of Chinese startups into the region by providing them with the right tools.

Indonesia’s role in driving Southeast Asia’s growth

e27 plans to collaborate with Convergence Ventures, one of the investors from this round, and leverage their strong investment network in Indonesia. This ties in with the company’s goal to facilitate stronger cross-border ties between key players in the region and China.

Jerry Wang, Founder of TechTemple comments,

“China’s rapid development of the internet industry brings important lessons to Southeast Asian entrepreneurs, as well as opportunities for cross-border collaboration. Localisation is also very important, hence investing in e27 would bring a wealth of local knowledge and connections for China.”

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

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group is predicting a 48% rise in fiscal year 2017 in its first annual sales forecast, boosted by recent acquisitions and plans for expansion, reports USA Today.

The expected growth comes after major acquisitions of the video streaming service Youku Tudou and private ecommerce company Lazada Group, based in Singapore, within the past year.

Excluding the consolidated revenues from Youku and Lazada, the growth would be over 36%.

A bumpy year so far

After holding the biggest initial public offering in 2014, Alibaba faced a series of challenges last year – including lawsuits involving the sale of counterfeit goods –  sending its stock into a spiral. Shares fell as low as $57.20, undercutting its IPO price of $68, after the Chinese stock market crashed in August.

Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman, Jack Ma, said the key to the company’s long term growth will be expanding into international markets and investing in big data according to Alibaba’s website.

Ma aims to serve 2 billion people, create 100 million jobs around the world and have a valuation equivalent to the GDP of the fifth-richest country in four years.

“We have the world’s largest retailer, but we are not a retail business, we are a data business,” Ma said.

Possible risks to future growth include difficulty entering international markets, concentrated voting ownership and Chinese geopolitical concerns according to Stifel. China has criticized Alibaba for illegally allowing the sale of fake and forbidden goods.

Shares rose 3% Tuesday to $77.77 and continued to gain early Wednesday.

A version of this appeared in USA Today. Find the full article here.

In a post Brexit world, emerging markets are suddenly looking very attractive for investors, reports CNBC.

Once shunned by investors for being volatile, emerging markets have gained a certain appeal following Brexit, which sent shockwaves to global markets after the UK decided to leave the European Union.

Some fund managers have low exposure to emerging markets, having pulled out of them as concerns about China’s sharp slowdown weighed on the outlook. Following Brexit, a global flight to quality trade has helped send the S&P 500 to all time highs and long end US treasury yields to record breaking lows.

Analysts are concerned about the limit of gains in US assets.

If the dollar stays steady, market strategists see opportunity in diversifying to emerging markets where growth forecasts remain higher than in developed markets.

According to BlackRock Investment Institute, having a degree of exposure to emerging market is part of having a diversified portfolio. Currencies and trade balance have adjusted following Brexit, and markets in Southeast Asia stand out in an environment of lagging global growth.

The World Bank expects emerging markets and developing economies to grow at a 3.5% rate this year, while advanced economies should see just a 1.7% rate

Exposure in the Southeast Asian market, or other emerging markets brings an element of diversification which can help buffer one’s portfolio against market downturns possible at any period of time. The interest in emerging economies can go onto positively impact all sectors and industries, whether it’s tech, healthcare or finance.

The next investing mega-trend may be adoption of middle-class lifestyles on a global scale with huge implications for global providers of goods and services.

The downturn of the West’s venture capital market is also a post Brexit reaction, as investors in UK startups are wary of the change. The world has shrunk according to President Barack Obama but emerging markets in the Southeast Asian region may be lucky enough to come out of a global slowdown as the unlikely winners.

A version of this appeared in CNBC on July 14. Read the full version here.


Cosmetic brands in Southeast Asia are experimenting with ecommerce marketing strategies and part of that includes buying adwords with Google Adwords Network in order to rank on the region’s most used search engine. Determining which are the most effective keywords to buy are a strategy in itself. In China, new data indicates that search terms beyond just brands names are very important in connecting with the Chinese cosmetic consumer. From China Internet Watch:

Over 70% Chinese consumers search non-brand keyword on the internet; of the non-brand searches, 58% consumers search for non-product such as solutions and how-tos. Chinese cosmetic search trends are as follows:

  • Nail and eyebrow become popular while consumers are looking for the makeup skills
  • Many consumers cannot figure out the difference of BB, foundation, primer and cushion products
  • Consumers are pursuing convenience so that products become more and more diversified
  • ‘Look’ becomes more important
  • Drama and celebrities lead the new fashion

Over 50% of searches are for cosmetic techniques or methods, regardless of whether on mobile or desktop.