Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Australian logistics startup Shippit gears up for Asian expansion 

Australian logistics software company Shippit announced today it has raised a series A round worth US$1.6 million.

The Sydney-based startup will use the funding to fuel further growth, hire more people, and expand to Asian markets within the next year.

The round is led by Australian investment firm Aura Group, which established a Singapore presence last year.

The co-founders saw an opportunity for growing its product and sales teams to continue building the company in its home market as well as abroad, so it was a good time to pursue its series A round. Shippit claims to have over 750 customers, including Sephora and the Topshop clothing chain.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. DHL taps Alexa to deliver package status updates

DHL Parcel has launched a new skill for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant app that allows customers to ask Alexa for updates on an expected parcel delivery,

This a very practical and useful application of Alexa’s talents. While Amazon promotes Alexa’s skills as a shopper convenience, a music streamer or a know-it-all, this new skill is an example of how Alexa also can be a customer service conduit — not just to Amazon — but to any company that sees fit to develop this sort of skill.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Amazon’s epic 20-year run as a public company, explained in five charts

For Amazon investors, this is perhaps the only chart needed. Amazon’s stock price as of Friday was $961 a share, over 600 times greater than what it was on its IPO day — after accounting for stock splits.


Amazon has made sure not to let too much money drop to its bottom line — giving it the stigma of being a perennial money loser, so it can eat up market share from competitors that are more focused on profits than on growth.

Read the rest of the story here

The growth potential of cross-border ecommerce has not gone unnoticed for those in the ecommerce industry. According to reports, cross-border is speculated to reach $1 trillion by 2020. According to research by Accenture, more than 900 million people will be international shoppers by 2020.

Cross-border is an opportunity not to be wasted. DHL has definitely taken notice. The logistics giant has published a report, The 21st Century Spice Trade: A Guide to The Cross Border Opportunity, assessing the vast potential of cross-border logistics and last mile opportunities across the world.

Source: DHL

Why are people willing to shop internationally?

Although cross-border ecommerce may seem like an expensive hassle, respondents from DHL’s survey indicate that cross-border is appealing due to product availability and attractive offering, i.e. price. The top selling items for cross-border are fashion and electronics. However, consumers are beginning to search for cosmetics, pet care and sporting goods, which means all product categories now have cross-border growth potential.

Source: DHL

Here are the key takeaways from the report

  • Cross border ecommerce is expected to grow at 25% between 2015-2020, which is twice the pace of domestic ecommerce retailers and manufacturers.
  • Online retailers are boosting sales by 10-15% on average simply by extending their offering to international customers.
  • An additional boost for retailers comes from a premium service offering: retailers and manufacturers that incorporated a faster shipping option into their online stores grew 1.6 times faster on average than other players. This is also applicable to SMEs, not just global brands.
  • On a country level, demand is more fragmented than supply, with the US, the UK, and China accounting for closer to 30% of all global high-value demand (versus 60% of supply)

What are the challenges with cross-border ecommerce?

Having an attractive offering (including price) stands out as key to convincing international consumers to act. However, maintaining a long-term competitive advantage in terms of website appeal, broad range of payment options, and convenient customer service will be challenging for many e-tailers. The speed of delivery is also another key roadblock that often hinders the growth of cross-border  ecommerce, which means that for brands, picking a delivery partner is a key step to driving conversion.

Who can benefit from cross-border ecommerce?

Ecommerce giants

The most obvious contenders for cross-border selling. Multi-billion businesses have the budget to move abroad.  Amazon, for instance, has carefully gone market by market since the late 1990s and now generates 40% of sales outside the US. For Alibaba, on the other hand, sales outside China still represent less than 10% of its revenue.

Overall, survey respondents associated with ecommerce giants confirm their role as early movers: they report the largest average share of cross-border sales (15%) among e-tailers.

Pure online retailers

As ‘purely online players’, they can influence online shopping behavior easily. Cross-border selling can give them access to less penetrated market opportunities abroad, where further sales growth may be cheaper to generate even than in their respective domestic market.

Brick-and-mortar retailers

They report the lowest cross-border sales share (on average 11% of total sales) today, although by a small margin. They need to build out the digital capabilities that allow them to go head to head with online-first competitors. If they do manage to carve out their own multi-channel niche however, brick and mortar retailers may offer a unique cross-border experience for international shoppers.

What to think about before going cross-border?

  • The right product assortment
  • The global local website: localization is key
  • Warehousing and fulfillment
  • Delivery choices: speed is the decision factor and can be an effective conversion tool for brands and retailers

For brands that have the scalability and budget to test out international reception through cross-border ecommerce, they would be joining a growing market with a trillion dollar potential. The DHL report represents only a fraction of the surging industry, but has shed light on the various pros and cons that brands and retailers should keep in mind before expanding beyond their domestic market.

Download the DHL report here.

Here’s what you should know.

1. Paytm ecommerce in talks to raise up to $200m from Alibaba

The funding round will take the stake of Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Financial in Paytm Ecommerce, an entity newly created by One97 Communications Ltd to house the online retail business, to more than 50% from 42%.

A deal will confirm that Paytm will continue to be the vehicle for Alibaba’s ecommerce play in India. In 2016, the Chinese online retailer contemplated a standalone entry into India or an acquisition.

Read the rest of story here


2. DHL: Cross-border ecommerce could be huge growth opportunity

According to “The 21st Century Spice Trade: A Guide to the Cross-Border Ecommerce Opportunity”, cross-border online retail is predicted to grow at twice the rate of domestic ecommerce. At this rate, the market will jump from $300 billion in 2015 to $900 billion in 2020.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Indonesian email users check their inboxes for retail promotions

A survey of email users in the country conducted by research firm JakPat in January 2017 found that 30.6% of respondents named receiving shopping promotions as one of the main reasons they used email. 80% of users check email via mobile phones.

This seems like an easy win for marketing strategy.

Read the rest of the story here.


4. Tech Update: Snap publicly files for IPO 

Snap is expected to go public at a valuation north of $25 billion in early March, making it not only the first tech IPO of the year but also one of the largest in a while. That means Snap is not only setting itself up as a bellwether for future consumer tech IPOs, but also for the tech IPO market in general.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know to wrap up the day.


1. Cross-border ecommerce and the Southeast Asian landscape

Thoughts on Southeast Asia: “There are huge variances in consumer preferences, there is massive fragmentation in the logistics network and infrastructure, and there are huge variances in the way people want to pay, and all of this creates huge complexity for anyone who wants to enter and see this as a unified market,” says Aimone Ripa di Meana, chief marketplace officer of Lazada Group.

Read the rest of the story here


2. DHL not worried about other logistics giants

Why not?: “I think what we do every night with millions of parcels is completely underestimated. You can call an Uber car, if it doesn’t show up you can call another one. If a parcel got stuck, what should the parcel do? It doesn’t speak, it doesn’t communicate. So some human intervention is necessary.” Says Frank Appel, CEO of DHL at the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Does this mean that drones won’t completely dominate the future of last mile?

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Singaporean crowdfunding firm CoAssets invests in China Da Xian Bing technology

The company stated that the investment, for 10% of Da Xian Bing, gives it access to a rapidly growing user base of more than 300,000 users who are familiar with the concept of crowdfunding.

The company will be able to leverage from China’s more mature P2P and crowdfunding market.

Read the rest of the story here.

2016 was a buzz year for drone crafts. The technology gained instant coverage across different industries and media sites as more companies created drones or were rumored to have one in the works.

Various logistics industry specialists also came out to assess the role of delivery drones in the landscape of logistics and last mile and predicted that drones have the potential to disrupt and reduce costs associated with traditional supply chain.

Logistics companies and retailers such as Amazon and Walmart have invested in pilot projects, but no drone has yet been commercialized. Logistics players such as DHL and Flirtey have successfully completed a few drone deliveries but are currently still in trial period.

With so much chatter in the drone conversation, which companies in our industry have actually shown progress in drone deliveries? We take a look:

1. DHL

Having operated a drone research project since 2013, DHL reportedly made a trip around a mountainous area in Bavaria, Germany area three times faster than cars with its “parcelcopter” in May 2016.

We have achieved a level of technical and procedural maturity to eventually allow for field trials in urban areas as well,” said DHL manager Jürgen Gerdes.

The delivery giant also reported to have built an automated system that can deliver packages such as medical supplies between two remote Bavarian villages. End-customers were able to visit a DHL “skyports” location where it stores the drones during the trial period in November 2016, insert their package into an allocated box and input a code that activates the drone.

DHL is also the first to apply to be a part of the mobile controlled UAV traffic research project, which will be effective this year.


2. Amazon

drone deliveries

Amazon already has a plane, a credit card, an employee-less grocery store so naturally the giant would have a drone delivery system they coin Prime Air. The company expects the drones to transport packages safely to customers within 30 minutes.

According to recent reports, Amazon has filmed for permission to run tests on experimental wireless communications technology – possibly to bolster Prime Air. Tests will take place at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle before moving to its customer service facility in Kennewick, Washington.

If the requested tests are indeed related to Prime Air, it highlights how serious Amazon is about implementing drone delivery on a large scale. The senior manager of Amazon’s drone delivery service is Neil Woodward, a retired astronaut, and is listed as the primary contact on documents submitted by Amazon to the Federal Communications Commission regarding base stations for the wireless comms technology.

3. UPS

UPS made headlines in October 2016 when the package delivery giant sent a drone to deliver an asthma inhaler to a children’s summer camp on an island just off Massachusetts in the US.

According to UPS, the company is focusing on using drones to fly in remote locations to deliver emergency supplies. A more widespread delivery service is years away into the future.



4. Diamler

Diamler, the manufacturer of Mercedes Benz has been taking very active strides in drone innovation this past year. From its drone-equipped delivery van concept in September 2016 to its most recent $17 million investment in London based Startship technologies, a delivery drone startup.

Diamler’s drones aim to change last mile deliveries by integrating an advanced routing solution, which will provide information on where to place a package or whether a signature is required. It will still have to maneuver between the drone regulations set by the FAA in the US though.


5. Walmart

In collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA, Walmart was developing internally autonomous drone technology that allows a quad-copter drone to take 30 images per second from a top-mounted camera, as well as deliver parcels. This was back in June 2016.

The Walmart drone is most likely still in the development phase, but the company plans to integrate the drones into all of its distribution centers in the future.


6. Alibaba

The buzz surrounding Alibaba’s Taobao drone started to circulate last February. Taobao ran a real world test that lets 450 people in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai order ginger tea and receive it within the hour. The test period only lasted for 2 days, but it was one of the first practical instances of drone delivery in urban areas.

Since then, the Taobao drone has been PR shy.


7. 7-Eleven/Flirtey

7-Eleven actually got a head start in the drone race, beating everyone by being the first to successfully complete a regular drone delivery to consumers in the US in December 2016. Approximately over 70 orders were placed in Reno, Nevada and received doorstep drone treatment.

According to Flirtey, the average delivery time was 10 minutes. Customers mainly ordered snacks and beverages, including over the counter medicine.

Slurpees and sandwiches could be widely delivered within the US via drones in the near future.


What’s next?

Which logistics company or retailer do you think should pilot drones next? Is Southeast Asia too far away from launching commercial drones or would the bustling streets of Bangkok and Jakarta be prime locations for drones in the future? Let us know in the comments.

Here are the top ecommerce news you should know.

1. DHL adding drones and ‘copters to its courier workforce as its ecommerce operations expand

Charles Brewer, CEO of DHL Ecommerce suggested the routine procedure of having a uniformed courier delivering to your doorstep is rapidly becoming less popular, simply because customers these days are less willing to sit at home and wait for arrivals. So the company is now in the rapid process of introducing “alternative methods”.

In Asia, parcel shops are very popular. Logistics companies such as Chinese company S.F. Express have been scrambled to join hands with bricks-and-mortar retailers such as 7-Eleven, to arrange convenient parcel pickup points.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Alibaba uses big data to combat fake cigarettes and pesticide

To fight the battle, Alibaba has developed scanning and detection models powered by big data, it claims. The models detect abnormal online stores on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, including Taobao, by analysing a variety of factors, including the complexity of online stores, IP addresses, and abnormal customer reviews.

According to Alibaba, stores that sell fake products tend to use the basic template provided by Taobao, not bothering to add more functions and decorations on top of it. Alibaba collects counterfeit goods’ logistics information and other data throughout the capital chain via Alibaba’s AliPay, a sign that the tech giant’s anti-counterfeit technology efforts have expanded from online to offline.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. InComm to launch PlayStation network prepaid products into Indonesia 7-Eleven stores

InComm, a prepaid product & transaction services company is partnering with MOL Global Inc. to launch a PlayStation™Network prepaid products,  which will be distributed through 7-Eleven stores in Indonesia. The products will be available in digital codes that can be bought through electronic kiosks located in more than 200 7-Eleven stores in key areas like Jakarta and other major cities in Indonesia.

Read the rest of the story here.