Nippon Express will work with ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding to ship Japanese goods to China for around 30% less than current prevailing rates, reports Retail News Asia.

The Japanese shipper will transport goods from companies doing business on Alibaba’s Tmall platform to China, while an Alibaba affiliate will handle the last mile delivery. Goods can either be delivered across the sea when ordered or shipped by surface in advance and then stored first  in warehouses.

In teaming up with Tmall, which controls 60% of China’s online retail market, Nippon Express aims to handle half of all online purchases headed there from Japan.

Currently, Japan Post ships 90% of online purchases traveling to China via airmail with its express-mail service. But a fee hike of around 30% in June to $13.68 for packages up to 500 grams has raised headwinds to the service’s use.

Nippon Express and Alibaba will also take on the complex business of dealing with customs for companies on Tmall. Following the changed rules regarding China’s cross border ecommerce in April, information needs to be given about what’s being shipped, prices and logistics are to be submitted electronically.

Nippon Express will be the first Japanese logistics company to create a digital link with Alibaba allowing this data to be combined and submitted in one neat package.

A number of Japanese companies are competing to offer better and cheaper shipping options to China, opening up opportunities even for smaller players in the market. For example, Yamato Holdings inked a partnership in April with companies including, Tmall’s smaller rival, to offer international shipping and home delivery.

Ecommerce is growing more important to Japanese companies as a source of continuous demand from China.

A version of this appeared on Retail News Asia on August 3. Read the full version here.

Thailand's cashless ecommerce

Rabbit Pay being used at McDonald’s In Thailand Source:

Thailand’s ecommerce market is booming and shaping up to be one of Asia’s top performers. The imminent start of the government’s national e-payment system aimed at making Thailand a cashless society and expected to see double-digit growth.

The value of the ecommerce market was forecast to be $58.4 billion (2.1 trillion THB) in 2015, a 3.65% increase from 2014. Moody’s Analytics found that the increased use of electronic payments, including credit, debit and prepaid cards, added $3.18 billion (0.19%) to Thailand’s gross domestic product from 2011-2015, the largest weighted average increase in Asia.

The big winner in Thailand’s online marketplace has been its social commerce scene. Thai consumers are rated as being among the most likely in the world to use social media networks to find products and sellers. A March 2016 survey by PwC found that 51% of online Thai shoppers had purchased directly via social media. The rise of mobile commerce has proven to be a boom for e-payments platforms.

The national e-payment system, which will be launched by the government this fall, aims to make Thailand cashless and support the country’s digital economy policy.

Analysts expect the national e-payment program to help propel growth in ecommerce and related fintech.

Earlier this month, Facebook was revealed to be trialing an option in Thailand that would allow users to pay for products listed on Facebook Page, but Facebook is late to the party. Chat app Line, with two million users base has already launched extensive payment options. Alibaba’s third party e-payment platform, Alipay, has also been making inroads in Thailand, along with some of its main Chinese competitors.

As global giants continue to close in, it is this knowledge that could allow the Thailand ecommerce landscape to avoid the fates of South Korea or the United States, where the market was consolidated to the point that only the major players were left standing.

A version of this appeared in Forbes on June 27. Read the full article here.