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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. “Amazon for cars” Carsome raises $6 million round

Carsome, a used car marketplace based in Malaysia, plans to enter more markets in Southeast Asia after raising $6 million in a new round led by Gobi Partners.

Carsome has its own inspectors that appraise users’ second-hand cars, which are then added to the platform. After that, over 1,500 car dealers can make offers on the vehicles through a bidding system.

Sellers can sit back and wait for the best bid to come in rather than visiting standalone shops one by one.

The company will use the fresh funds to expand into new markets and set up more inspection outlets across the four countries where it already has a presence: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Why did Gobi partners invest?

“The C2B model that Carsome emphasizes on makes a lot of sense especially in emerging markets like Southeast Asia because there is not enough data that enables trust between sellers and buyers. Carsome provides a de-risking element for both sides – the sellers who are generally individuals and buyers who are dealers,” says Victor Chua, Gobi Partners vice president of investment for ASEAN.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Alibaba takes another step into India, acquires movie ticketing company

TicketNew is Alibaba’s first major acquisition in the ticketing space outside of China.

The Chennai-based company enables the booking of movie theater tickets in over 300 cities across India.

Alibaba plans to invest to the tune of $18.6 million over a period of time,” says Ramkumar Nammalvar, founder and CEO of TicketNew, which competes with BookMyShow and other players in this space. Alibaba’s foray into movie ticketing in India follows its taking control of the ecommerce arm of Indian payments and ecommerce unicorn Paytm earlier this year.

Alibaba’s movie ticketing service via TicketNew could be an important component in its ecommerce play on Paytm Mall.

Read the rest of the story here

 

3. Walmart store workers now delivering packages

In an effort to tamp down last-mile delivery costs as it ramps up its e-commerce sales, Wal-Mart Stores is employing store staff to make deliveries to customers’ homes.

The task is voluntary and a way for store associates to make more money, said US ecommerce CEO, Marc Lore. “If they choose to opt in, we’ve built technology that allows them to set preferences” like how many, how big and how heavy the packages are, and which days they can make the trips.

The effort is still an experiment, with three test locations – two in New Jersey and one in northwest Arkansas.

This is where Wal-Mart’s vast network of stores comes in handy. “Walmart has strength in numbers with 4,700 stores across the U.S. and more than a million associates,” Lore said Thursday. “Our stores put us within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population.

Now imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way. It’s easy to see why this test could be a game-changer.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

4PX Express has grown into China’s biggest cross border ecommerce platform, reports Singapore Straits Times.

The logistics platform helps merchants such as AliExpress, TaoBao, eBay and Newegg to get their goods delivered to customers across the world.

In terms of scale, 4PX is twice the size of the #2 and #3 players in China combined.

As China’s ecommerce boom spreads to other parts of the world, outbound volumes have spiked over the last two years, with 4PX founder Kevin Li predicting that the market will grow at least 80% each year for the next few years.

Approximately 40% of shipments handled by 4PX are bound for shoppers in the United States, Russia and followed by Brazil. Shoppers in the UK, Germany, Spain and France count for another 40-45% of overseas shipments.

As Li puts bluntly, “the world economy is not good, but foreigners like online shopping.”

4PX turns an annual profit of approximately $101.1 million (50 million yuan) and employs 3,500 people across 50 centers in China and 17 overseas.

As the items sold by Chinese sellers grow in value, the company plans to expand its network of overseas warehouses, where sellers’ inventory is sorted, packed, consolidated and shipped out. It also aims to be the biggest Chinese employer in the Czech Republic, with a promise to add 600 jobs over five years as it serves Western Europe with a warehouse there.

4PX’s big name investors 

The company closed its latest investment round last month, with Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao injecting an undisclosed sum into the firm for a 15% stake.

SingPost is an early investor, with roughly 30% share in the company. The partnership goes back to 2008, when 4PX first identified opportunities in cross border ecommerce. During that time, online sales were booming, but the parcel service industry lagged behind.

The sellers were new, they didn’t know how to sell and choose a logistics company. DHL and FedEx did professional fulfillment but were focused on the business-to-business segment. – Kevin Li, Founder of 4PX Express

From that, 4PX started to build a complete product line for parcel services, and SingPost became its first postal partner outside of China. Small parcels from China would be routed to Singapore and sent out to various countries across the world from there.

Li expects his company’s margins to fall as the ecommerce sector matures, but this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. “We are an integrator of different firms’ solutions. We exist because of our technology”.

A version of this appeared in The Straits Times on August 14. Read the full version here.

SingPost ecommerce delivered positive sales growth in the last quarter by 30.9% to $248 million (S333.4 million), but saw a decrease in net profit by 23%.

The increase reflects expansion in cross border ecommerce activities, as well as the integration of new US subsidiaries TradeGlobal and Jagged Peak. Both of these companies run ecommerce fulfillment and logistics operations, acquired in November 2015 and March 2016, respectively. The company recently won Japanese fashion brand UNIQLO’s ecommerce business in Thailand.

Ecommerce related revenues more than doubled from $54.3 million to $122 million. They now make up 49.3 % of Group revenue, up from 28.7% last year. 

Ecommerce related revenues now make up 49.3% of the total Group revenue, up from 28.7% last year. 

Logistics revenue rose 11.9% to $116.7 million, with steady organic growth at Quantium Solutions and CouriersPlease, as well as the inclusion of a new subsidiary under Famous Holdings. Increased cross border ecommerce related activities led postal revenues to a 1.5% rise, indicating an increased demand of cross border services. 

Increased cross border ecommerce related activities led postal revenues to a 1.5% rise, indicating an increased demand of cross border services. 

Total expenses increased 33.6%, driven largely by growth in international mail traffic and ecommerce logistics volumes that reflect the change in the Group’s business mix.

Net profit attributable to equity holders declined 23.0% to S$35.9 million, due largely to one-off gains from the divestments of Novation Solutions and DataPost HK in the corresponding period last year.

From the SingPost Press Release:

Underlying net profit, which excludes one-off items, was down 11.2%, due to investments in business transformation. Rental income declined as the Singapore Post Centre (“SPC”) retail mall is being redeveloped, while depreciation charges were incurred for the Regional ecommerce Logistics Hub, which obtained a Temporary Occupation Permit in April 2016.

SingPost also continued to invest in ecommerce IT and operational capabilities. Mr Mervyn Lim, Covering Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are investing in our business transformation and that will take time to contribute materially to earnings. We are focused on executing our strategy to create value from our acquisitions and build an integrated global ecommerce logistics ecosystem. SingPost’s strategy to protect the postal core and grow its ecommerce logistics network remains on track.”

The good news will be welcomed by SingPost, following the company’s spell of negative headlines regarding internal investigation over board members, and the stepping down of Director Keith Tay in May.

Access the press release here

By Anutra Chatikavanij & Felicia Moursalien

 

7-Eleven Inc. and a tech startup called Flirtey have beaten Amazon to the punch in making the first drone delivery to a customer’s home in the US, reports TechCrunch.

Rather than adapting existing unmanned aerial vehicles, Flirtey builds its own, develops the software to run them, and creates proprietary packaging and containers to keep items secure during delivery, according to CEO Matt Sweeney.

The 7-Eleven delivery took place in Reno, Nevada on July 10th, Flirtey successfully transported: Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy to the home of the family who placed the order.

According to 7-Eleven EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins, “delivery by drone is something 7-Eleven intends to offer widely in the future.”

Drone delivery could prove especially useful to families with children who cannot easily leave the house when they have an urgent need for items like over the counter medicines or milk.

To find customers willing to have their order handled by a flying robot, the companies surveyed households within a one-mile radius of the store from which they planned to deliver.

Most already know 7-Eleven, the convenience store retail chain that boasts about 10,800 stores in North America and 59,500 in total around the world. If already successful in the US, it wouldn’t be long until they are delivering in Southeast Asia.

A version of this appeared in TechCrunch on July 22. Read the full version here.

InPost Malaysia, a 24-hour self service parcel locker service has partnered with MatDespatch, a same day pickup & delivery service, reports Post & Parcel.

The partnership will allow online retailers and customers to integrate services from both companies allowing customers to use the same day pickup & delivery service with the 24 hour self service parcel.

Cross-platform services between InPost and MatDespatch will give shoppers another viable alternative to omnichannel shopping.

Inpost lockers can be found scattered across Malaysia, including selected Petronas petrol stations and Tesco hypermarkets, both of which are easily accessible for the public.

This partnership is vital, as during festive season in Malaysia this week, MatDespatch and InPOST Parcel Lockers will still be operational 24/7. Rosland Mohd Jannes, MD of InPost Malaysia

Other express couriers may stop accepting next day delivery in order to clear backlog from peak season, and some couriers may have restarted delivery on July 12.

A collaboration between logistics companies that offer different scopes of service is a trend that should be emulated across the region to improve the last mile delivery process. Who’s to say that a partnership between Thailand’s locker service Skybox and messenger app Skootar wouldn’t be well received in Bangkok?

A version of this appeared in Post & Parcel on July 11. Read the full version here.

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