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Here’s what you should know today.

1. AppsFlyer raises $56m to capture Asia’s mobile marketing opportunity

Appsflyer has raised $56 million for its series C round. This brings its total funding to US$84 million. AppsFlyer’s tools are integrated into most popular mobile apps and systems to monitor their use. This helps marketers target their campaigns with greater accuracy and measure their effectiveness.

What now? China will be a big focus for the company. The startup will use its partnerships with companies like Tencent and Baidu to explore that market further. This also means hiring more people in China and Southeast Asia and opening a new office in Indonesia. Some acquisitions might also be in the pipeline…

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. For cross-border ecommerce, regulations are becoming a key roadblock

Cross-border e-commerce is growing substantially in Southeast Asia, but regulations serve as a major bottleneck to its current development.

What the experts say: “Every logistics company has their own procedures, and it takes time to negotiate through difficult bureaucracies seen in countries like India and Indonesia, where at times regulations are too big and too vague,” says Anchanto chief executive officer and co-founder Vaibhav Dabhade.

Read the rest of the story here

 

3. Recommended Reading: Why online grocers are so unsuccessful, and what Amazon is doing about it

From price, technology to perishables, how is Amazon filling the gaps not filled by other grocery startups?

What the experts say: “Once Amazon’s growing grocery business reaches critical mass, the shift will happen immediately. All other retailers will have no other choice but to make it work any way they can,” says Uwe Weiss, CEO of machine learning software Blue Yonder.

Read the rest of the story here.

Before you start your Wednesday, check out these ecommerce headlines.

1. Subscription ecommerce startup Rockets of Awesome raised $12.5 million

Although a Western startup, Rockets of Awesome showcases the rising popularity of subscription ecommerce models. Users can sign up for the services, which survey them about their likes, dislikes, preferred brands and price points, then they begin receiving pre-scheduled or on-demand deliveries of clothes that they can either keep or return. The startup is geared towards kids, and sends parents seasonal items of clothing.

The company makes its own apparel, hereby cutting out the middle man and producing in-house.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya mulls more fintech investments

Bank of Ayudhya (BAY) and its financial technology venture arm are looking to directly invest in three companies in order to keep the bank’s competitive edge. Krungsri Finnovate is eyeing two payment fintech firms and another that uses artificial intelligence, said Thakorn Piyaphan, head of digital banking and innovation and head of Krungsri Consumer Group.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Ecommerce’s demand for Chinese postal services

According to China’s State Post Bureau, online purchases generate more than 21 billion of the 30 billion packages delivered this past year in the country. The year before saw 20 billion total packages, including both ecommerce and other parcels. And as Alibaba and JD.com are gaining international appeal, more shipments are going and coming overseas.

Nearly 30 percent of the total are packages being shipped from the United States.

Read the rest of the story here.

 


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One of the most interesting parts of my job is going on regular courier rides with some of my employees. A few months ago in Thailand, I sat in one of our DHL courier vans as it made its rounds at speed. As the week progressed, my time in the van with my front line employees and customers reinforced my thoughts on the growing complexity and huge upside of ecommerce in the region.

Southeast Asia is a hotbed for online trade. By 2020, more than 480 million people in the region will be online. At the moment, 3.8 million new users get connected to the internet every month.  Ecommerce in the region is expected to be worth US$88 billion by 2025.

There are high volumes of deliveries across the countries: Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam have more than 150,000 B2C parcel deliveries a day and still only represent between 3-5% of all retail sales in their respective countries.

It is a huge and growing ‘pie’ for new and existing e-tailers. Whilst it is a great time to be an e-tailer, the opportunity also comes with some challenges. Customer requirements are becoming more complex as are the channels that merchants have to keep up with them.

One of the biggest signs of this trend is the way Southeast Asian customers interact with brands.

Among digital shoppers, 80% use social media to research products and interact with sellers. Shopping via mobile devices has also become the norm, especially for those who live outside metropolitan areas, 85% outside the major cities use their mobile phones for online purchases.

As ecommerce becomes more prevalent, customer expectations will continue to rise. They will have less tolerance for delays and be frustrated at lack of choice.

When I spoke recently to one of our partners, Hans-Peter Ressel, CEO of Lazada Malaysia, he remarked to me: “When customers buy from us today, they are looking for a seamless shopping experience. As e-tailers, we can’t afford to skimp on our logistics capabilities.”

It’s important to continuously offer fast, convenient, and reliable delivery options, because this is what customers are expecting today.

So, let’s take a step outside and consider what exactly is it that Southeast Asian customers wants after they hit the ‘check-out’ button. What makes them tick? What do they like? What frustrates them?

From my journey walking the ground in our facilities, to sitting in our delivery vans, I’ve noticed three things that customers in the region want from their e-tailers today:

1. Variety to match their diverse needs

The ‘on-demand’ economy has given customers many options and their expectations have changed considerably as a result. Not only do customers want faster delivery options, but a pre-determined and agreed delivery window. Customers also expect payment options catered to their needs because payment preferences vary across different countries depending on their maturity. In several developed cities like Singapore, customers can pay via credit card. However, when it comes to the 60–70% of people in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam who are “unbanked”, cash on delivery still reigns supreme.

Customer demands have diversified, and so should the services e-tailers offer. They must become more sensitive to on-the-ground feedback from customers to be able to adjust their offerings to suit their needs.

Don’t treat deliveries as a cost center: in the long run, a great delivery experience will pay dividends.

Brewer’s Top Tip: Approach the delivery process as part of the value chain. A variety of payment and service options, coupled with excellent service, can create ‘raving fans’, or emotionally engaged and loyal customers who drive up repeat visits and basket size.

 

2. Hassle-free deliveries

Today’s busier and multi-tasking lifestyles mean that customers have little time to spare and short attention spans. Deliveries have to suit the consumer’s schedule, not the e-tailer or delivery company. One of the best ways e-tailers can add value to their customers’ lives is to offer a variety of delivery options.

Apart from the traditional home or office deliveries, they can make use of what is now the fastest growing delivery method in Europe: parcel lockers, service points, and convenience stores. These facilities are located in areas that customers frequent, so they don’t have to be stuck waiting for delivery staff to arrive. More pick-up options will make the collection experience much less disruptive to their daily lives.

Brewer’s Top TipPartner with a delivery company that can provide alternate delivery options (and not just one), without skimping on order visibility for customers.

 

3. Tools for more control

When it comes to deliveries, customers want to be empowered. They want the best experience possible—from the moment they make their purchase to the point of delivery when they receive their package. 60% of digital shoppers in Southeast Asia rank “experience” as a bigger factor than “price”, which only influenced 45% of those surveyed.

It is important for e-tailers to provide a sense of control and comfort if they want customers to keep returning. They can empower customers with the ability to track and trace their purchases every step of the way. This capability can be performed via a variety of methods, such as online portals or SMS notifications that allow customers to access updates on the go.

Brewer’s Top Tip: Give consumers control as part of your operational process flow. To really go the extra mile, ensure your partners have the IT capability to allow customers the flexibility to change their minds about where and when to receive their order.

At DHL eCommerce, we have already helped hundreds of e-tailers circumvent the challenges I have described. There’s never a better time to build choice, convenience, and control into e-tailer offerings that both e-tailers and consumers can delight in. These demands will continue to grow as ecommerce expands.  Our passion is in knowing more about the diverse consumer needs across the region and tailoring ecommerce logistics solutions that fit the requirements of each market.

 BY CHARLES BREWER, CEO AT DHL ECOMMERCE

Catch up on the biggest ecommerce headlines you should know for today.

1. ZALORA brings see now, buy now model to Singapore fashion week 

As the Official E-Tail Partner, ZALORA will be hosting a shoppable Singapore Fashion Week microsite on ZALORA.com that will feature curated collections from Fashion Futures Showcase and Singapore Fashion Week Access. Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. IBM partners with Singapore startup FreshTurf to use cloud, blockchain for parcel delivery

The partnership will create a network of storage lockers for shipping and parcel delivery throughout the city-state. The locker ledger network is designed to help improve the “last mile” of delivery services for consumers and businesses. Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Visa Takes Inspiration From Bitcoin For Cross-Border Payments

the company recently rolled out a new technology aimed at taking on a new market by offering international B2B payments. The product is called Visa B2B Connect and,it will use a network modeled after the one powering bitcoin to navigate the complex world of cross-border payments between two companies. Read the rest of the story here.

Mainland chinese cross-border ecommerce reached $17.963 billion in 2015 and a turning point, says new research from international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, reports Retail News Asia.

According to iResearch, this number is expected to grow more than 60% reaching 7% of total Chinese ecommerce value by 2018.

However, the research firm has warned that increasing regulation in China may mean that the industry has reached an inflection point.

“Chinese consumers are probably the most informed and digitalised in the world,” the report detailed. “As Chinese consumers travel abroad, they are increasingly aware of offline prices around the world.”

Cross-border ecommerce provides Chinese consumers with access to the best products at the best prices without leaving home. The report, titled Shopping Without Boundaries found that one in five online Chinese shoppers made a purchase on cross-border ecommerce platforms in 2015, double the proportion in 2014.

chinese cross border ecommerce

Today’s cross-border ecommerce businesses expanded out of the Daigou model “buying on behalf of”, which involved small businesses abroad who brought or sent products back to China. In 2013, the Chinese government established experimental zones of cross-border ecommerce for better regulation.

The most common are platform providers such as Tmall International and self-operated plays such as Jumei – JD Worldwide operates across both models.

What can happen next?

After a strong boom, the report finds that cross-border ecommerce has arrived at a tipping point.

The future now seems unclear to many players due to a series of government regulations. Tax, product safety, manufacturing standards and logistics, these regulations have not been fully defined and leave room for speculation, the report concluded.

While cross-border ecommerce still present various opportunities, companies may want to have a plan B in the works in case the market dynamics changes.

According to aCommerce Chief Marketing Officer, Sheji Ho, cross-border ecommerce in China can be seen as a desperate move to cope with the fact that the domestic market is reaching saturation. Despite the hype, it is still a very small business compared to the domestic ecommerce market. Therefore, it should be said that the surge in cross-border ecommerce is not indicative of China’s overall ecommerce landscape.

A version of this appeared in Retail News Asia on September 17. Read the rest of the story here

Indonesia hosted the 53rd meeting of Pan-Asian ecommerce Alliance (PAA) from August 9 to August 12 in Bandung, West Java, reports Republika. PAA is the alliance of companies with core business in ecommerce and e-business solutions who also acts as the trade facilitator in each country.

Pan-Asian Ecommerce Alliance goals

The Pan Asian ecommerce Alliance (“PAA”) aims to promote and provide secure, trusted, reliable and value-adding IT infrastructure and facilities to enhance seamless trade globally.

Since established in July 2000, PAA has developed the ecommerce sector to be one of the channels to increase the fluency of international trade, in accord to its vision to promote and provide a safe and trusted information technology (IT) infrastructure to support global trades activity.

PAA has 11 members in Asia Pacific countries: China (CIECC), Taiwan (Trade-Van), Hong Kong SAR (TradeLink), Japan (NACCS), Korea (KTNET), Macau SAR (TEDMEV), Malaysia (DagangNet), Singapore (Crimson Logic), Thailand (CAT Telecom), Philippines (InterCommerce) and Indonesia (PT EDI Indonesia).

The discussion is led by Francis Normal O Lopez as the Chairman of PAA and addressed the latest development of the projects that each member was responsible for. Among others are: Certificate of Origin (e-CO), Pan Asia Exchange (PAE), e-SPS, Advanced Filling Rule (AFR). According to E. Helmi Wantono, Director of PT EDI Indonesia,

An organization like PAA is crucial for Asia Pacific countries in creating the safe and quick cross-border trading.

Similar to Helmi, Lopez also relayed the importance of an accurate and trusted IT system (for cross border).

As B2B ecommerce experiences rapid growth in the region, companies need to adjust to the ever-changing needs of the customers. From client feedback, B2B businesses can focus on product differentiation to increase profitability. There were no concrete results published after the meeting. 

A version of this appeared in Republika on August 15. Read the full article in Bahasa here.