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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Australian mobile ads startup raises $23m for expansion to Asia

Melbourne-based mobile ads startup Unlockd has just closed a series B funding round worth US$23 million. It aims to use the money to tap the potential it sees in Asian markets.

Unlockd highlights Asia-Pacific as being a key growth area for its business. Quoting data from the GSM Association, the release says that there are currently more than 2.5 billion unique mobile subscribers throughout the region. That figure is predicted to rise to 3.1 billion by 2020, with a penetration rate of 74 percent.

The company’s twist on the mobile advertising segment includes novel approaches such as ads that appear onscreen when mobile users unlock their devices, or offers in return for watching ads.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2.The world’s largest retailers 2017: Amazon & Alibaba are closing in on Wal-Mart

Amazon is now the world’s third-largest retailer and ranks No. 83rd on Forbes’ Global 2000 list of the world’s biggest and most powerful public companies, as measured by a composite score of revenues, profits, assets and market value.

Wal-Mart (No. 17) and CVS (No. 66) are still the two largest retailers on the planet, but Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba (No. 140) isn’t far behind in sixth place. Jack Ma’s empire is the only foreign retailer to appear in the top ten and has leapfrogged Target (No. 227).

Times are tough for traditional retailers with sprawling physical footprints, with stores like Payless and American Apparel forced to declare bankruptcy.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: The ugly problem of pretty packaging

Brands like Glossier and Net-a-Porter are heavily invested in beautifying ecommerce, providing shoppers with brightly covered boxes, ribbons, and other cutesy delights that make the purchase feel extra special.

But at what expense do these extras come? And is any of it even worth it if it ends up in the trash 20 seconds later?

“We understand there’s value in the ‘unboxing experience.’ It’s easy to see why it’s such a big component of the marketing strategies for most retailers. People eat it up,” Brendon Babenzien, design director of Supreme writes. “The whole thing lasts a maximum of 2-3 minutes. That’s a lot of waste for what is essentially a mini dose of drugs, a transient feeling that what we just bought, or the company we bought it from, is somehow superior.”

According to him, the current rate at which brands operate with packaging waste is “completely irresponsible.”

That’s something worth thinking about.

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1. Grab opens R&D center in Indonesia

Grab announced the opening of its new R&D centre in South Jakarta, in a media conference. The sixth Grab R&D center will employ up to 200 engineers by end of 2017, and is situated on a 4,500 square meter land.

According to Kudo CEO and Co-Founder Albert Lucius, the center will focus on researching and developing technology to be used by Grab drivers and Kudo agents, as well as data on consumer behavior and pattern.

For the next step, Grab announced that it aimed to build five million new micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia by 2018, and to increase the number of its local engineering talents by the hundreds by end of year. It also announced that it will be looking for more Indonesia startups to invest in.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2.Walmart reports 63% rise in online sales

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1. Singapore’s HungryGoWhere launches POS system

Singapore foodie portal HungryGoWhere today launched a point-of-sale (POS) system that will enable merchants to lean on its reservations and takeaway platforms, as well as its extensive customer base.

The SmartPOS offers restaurateurs a suite of tools to manage table reservations, incoming takeaway orders, and payments sent through the company’s online portals.

Merchants will likely consider the POS system’s biggest asset to be the access it grants to HungryGoWhere’s 1.3 million-plus unique monthly visitors. This opens up opportunities for proprietors to target their loyalty schemes more precisely and to upsell certain dishes to specific customers.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Jet freshens grocery offerings with Story pop-up shop

Story, a New York City concept store that positions itself as a “magazine-like” curator, has partnered with Wal-Mart’s Jet.com for a grocery effort called “Fresh Story.”

t’s a curious move for Jet, though, considering the e-commerce upstart’s appeal as a money-saving juggernaut, with a “secret sauce” algorithm that helps shoppers save via a variety of fulfillment choices.

The tie-up between Story and Jet, temporary though it is, comes as Amazon — the retailer that Jet was first positioned to disrupt — continues to work on its decade-long fresh grocery effort. Jet, meanwhile, has been selling fresh groceries online since last year in select cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Alibaba’s next online stop: the whole world

Alibaba has also become famous in Europe for its Singles Day shopping extravaganza on Nov 11, which created a buzz on online social media. The shopping fest has made Alibaba the world’s top ecommerce marketplace by transaction value.

Alibaba is expanding overseas aggressively using AliExpress, in the process taking on global rivals such as Amazon and eBay.

AliExpress is gaining traction among users in Europe by reshaping their shopping behavior and building a personal rapport, said Zuniga Perez Pell, an employee at AliExpress’ Spanish operations.

 “Weddings are perhaps the most important occasion for women. In the past, Spanish women never bought wedding dresses online. But now, taking a look at AliExpress before buying is becoming a ritual,” said Zuniga Perez Pell, an employee at AliExpress in Spain.

A wide array of goods, partnerships with several key Russian payment providers, and a strong social media presence have helped make AliExpress the top player, said Shen Difan, general manager in Russia.

Read the rest of the story here.

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1. Hewlett Packard sets up new 3-year startup program in Singapore

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the US tech giant’s business-to-business spin-off company, is setting up a new innovation program in Singapore called InnovateNext.

InnovateNext aims to find promising startups to work with HPE on developing technology for smart cities, internet of things, data and analytics, finance, manufacturing, and more.

Singaporean startup GridComm is the first startup to join the program, which aims to bring on board 12 businesses over the next three years.

The InnovateNext program also includes an incubator called Accelerate Next, which will give startups access to HPE’s tech, expertise, and networks.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Anchanto, a Singapore-based ecommerce solutions provider raises funding

Anchanto operates on a software-as-a-service model, creating ways for retailers to tap into online marketplaces and ecommerce sites. It also serves logistics, fulfilment, and warehousing needs.

The investment amount is undisclosed.

Japanese business process outsourcing firm Transcosmos, which was the sole investor in Anchanto’s previous round, leads this one as well, pouring in 80 percent of the money. It’s joined by Luxasia, a large omnichannel retail group that specializes in beauty products, and a third, undisclosed investor.

Early this year, it launched a new platform, called SelluSeller, aiming to create a full ecosystem of services for online sellers and merchants.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. JD.com posts surprise profit as Chinese spending strengthens

D.com Inc. posted a quarterly profit for the first time as a public company after revenue beat expectations, as the online retailer integrated Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Chinese web business and rode strengthening consumer spending.

China’s second-largest ecommerce company reported sales of ¥76.2 billion ($11 billion) for the three months ended March, compared with the ¥73.6 billion expected by analysts on average.

It’s spinning off its online payments and finance division and building warehouses and drone delivery networks to become one of Asia’s dominant ecommerce players.

Read the rest of the story here.

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1. Facebook beats in Q1 with $8.03B revenue

Facebook had another strong quarter, beating estimates to start 2017. It scored $8.03 billion in revenue and $1.04 GAAP actual EPS in Q1 compared to $0.87 EPS estimate.

It earned that from 1.94 billion users, up from 1.86 billion last quarter, growing at a faster 4.3 percent compared to 3.91 perecent last quarter.

While fake news, video violence, and copying Snapchat have all been fixtures of the Facebook news cycle, its user growth actually grew during the time period.

Facebook added 3 million monthly users in the lucrative but saturated US & Canada market, though the Asia-Pacific region was the big driver, where Facebook added 43 million users.

Facebook’s focus on the developing world with apps like the 200 million-user Facebook Lite, recently rolled-out Messenger Lite, and new Instagram offline mode are paying off.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Korean beauty brand Memebox will no longer ship directly to US customers

The retailer revealed it will change its model from selling beauty products to focusing on educating consumers about Korean products through information, reviews and tutorials.

Though it will continue selling K-beauty products to Korea and China, the site will send its US customers to Amazon to shop. According to Memebox founder Dino Ha, the restructuring will turn Memebox into an educational site and search function rather than online shop

With the new model, Memebox will earn money through affiliate links rather than direct sales.

It currently has an affiliate agreement with Amazon, and Ha says the brand is in talks to create a similar deal with Sephora.Memebox still maintains its four private beauty labels, and will soon introduce a fifth, but the site will send US shoppers to Amazon to purchase the products.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: The next battleground for Amazon and Wal-Mart: the unbanked

 According to the FDIC, some 9 million households, or 7% of all U.S. households, do not have an account at an insured institution. Moreover, almost 20% of households, or 24.5 million households in the country, are “underbanked” — they have a checking or savings account, but also used other non-bank services for their banking needs.

Today, Wal-Mart helps the unbanked by offering an entire suite of financial services, which, in addition to the services mentioned earlier, also lets customers cash payroll and government checks, get prepaid debit cards, and print personal and business checks.

Amazon Cash isn’t yet so grandiose as a Wal-Mart Money Center, but it is specifically targeted to the unbanked consumer and may provide a platform for future expansion.

CVS, Speedway, Sheetz, and others and simply present a barcode from Amazon that they’ve either printed out or downloaded to a smartphone.

This is big because these are customers that have arguably been ignored previously by the e-tailer.

Read the rest of the story here.