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Singapore as the Head of Asian ECommerce

singapore post .jpg

How the national postal service in Singapore will be the logistic backbone to Asia's e-commerce booming market. 


SingPost: head of deliveries 

It is all fine and glorious to have a postal service in each country, the reality today though is that we order online from different countries AND Asia is so big we do not always have time to wait the 3 weeks before our new vacuum cleaner is delivered across the bumpy roads of southern China. 
In classic Singaporean thinking, they have figured out how to sort out the ecommerce delivery issue in Asia and are now working towards implementing their strategy. 

What are we talking about here? 

SingPost is Singapore's national postal service and has been showing signs of sluggishness over the last few years. HOWEVER, the company have tapped into the growing economy that is ecommerce in Asia and the realization that the delivery side of the economy still has a large potential for growth. 
Today, 28% of the post's service comes from ecommerce, indeed the company founded by the British imperialists in 1819 now has a $628 million revenue and is hoping to grow that with its startup revamp developed last year. 

A Startup as the future format? 

Recently, it has become popular for big companies to develop a small portion of their business in a startup kind of environment. A small dynamic team will lead the new division named SP eCommerce. 
Their vision is to support foreign companies trying to sell online in Asia. As a pivotal state in the region with one of the most crucial ports in the world, Singapore could become a gateway for outsiders to crack the booming ecommerce market in Asia. 

More than delivery

The difference between SP eCommerce and other services is that they combine not only the delivery of the products but they develop the online store fronts, analytics, logistics and warehouses network as well. 
SP eCommerce - if they pull it off - will develop the Google of eCommerce. It will combine everything a company needs. This will not only be an interesting move for new companies but also for current firms that are swayed by the promises of this all-in-one package deal offered by SP eCommerce. 
In other news, Singapore has been named the most expensive city (state) in the world to live in. According to the Economist, Paris is number two on their list of expensive cities. i therefore think that The Economist data collectors have fallen on their heads as there is no way Paris is the second most expensive city in the world. 
To bring it back to ecommerce, keep your eyes peeled on Singapore which may very well become the global leaders in fast speed deliveries and logistics. 

Rakuten Taiwan Spot Finds Fashion for You


It's like a mix of Shazam the music spotter and iTunes' genius function BUT FOR FASHION. 

The Taiwanse e-commerce site Rakuten Taiwan has coupled up with the visual search platform Visenze from Singapore in order to create a way of finding fashion. It offers us a selection of items based on what we show them.


A new step in e-commerce?

Not only does it offer suggestions according to what we've already viewed (Amazon have been doing that for decades) it's more than they have developed an algorithm that let's us find what we want with a little help. 
All this happens on the website's funsearch page where you can upload a photo or image that you like and get given loads of available products that are similar. 
My mind has officially been blown. Nothing will ever be the same again. 

How do they do it?

According to the experts at ViSenze, the matching gets based on the styles, the colors, the patterns as well as the type of garment. 
You're flipping through the latest edition of OK magazine, so and so actress looks drop dead in that dress but HOW to find out which stores carry something similar closer to our price range? lo and behold we have Rakuten Taiwan to sort us out. No more scrolling through pages and pages of dresses to find what we want exactly. 
According to the big bosses at Rakuten, this feature will be offered to the rest of their sites in the coming months. There is no question whether this will become a success: the answer is definitely yes. 

How to export this feature? 

Although some of us are simply over excited about this feature existing in the fashion e-commerce world, there is the obvious question about whether it can be adapted to other goods. 
Houseware for example could greatly benefit from this new development. A DIY giant could offer this service and people could upload photos of wallpaper, paint, closet doors, even furniture and curtains! Not only could this absolutely help those looking for something very particular for their house, garden, next ball but it will change how we use the internet and how we interact with e-commerce platforms. 
Today we have already bridged the gap between personal photography and social media, there is a definite possibility this will bridge that gap between photography and our shopping habits. The day it reaches dating sites though I am leaving the internet...

Suning Planning Full Advance onto the Web


Pull out all the stops! Suning is heading with full force to the internet, leaving nothing behind it but a trail of dust. 

The Chinese electronics giant is hoping that selling online will help save it from lagging revenues in the last quarters and offer it a place in the new world of ecommerce. 

What is to come?

Although the company have had an ecommerce platform for a while now, it has in no way been thriving. With physical shopping dwindling and the online platform not taking off anytime soon, the executives had to make a change. 
Suning's CEO Sun Weimin has announced that the entire company will become an online one. This could be one of the first times in history that a fully fledged company completely switched to the internet in a bid to keep up with the times. 
When a group as large at Suning stops selling in shops altogether shows a serious blow to the bricks and mortar model of commerce. 

Beyond electronics

Not only is everything going to be sold online, but Suning is expanding its selection of products. Indeed, next to the laser printers will be baby formula, saucepans and viagra (ok, so I made the last one up but the others are true!)
Suning is hoping that by expanding its selection of goods it can attract more customers. Although, having said that, I am not sure what they offer that the other ecommerce sites do not already. At least they won't be solely selling electronics, which would absolutely be the way to fail. 
Sources also tell us that Suning is expanding its services online with a serious push into banking, cloud technology and other. 

Shifting inside the company

What does this mean for the internal make-up of the company which must go from having megastores all over the country to mainly functioning from offices with super-computers?
Furthermore, what is to become of all the employees in the stores? China is notorious for having an abundance of help in shops such as these and this does not ring well for the future of these perhaps soon unemployed adults. 
China's e-commerce market is on the rise, but is Suning ready to jump on the wagon?

Lightinthebox IPO in the books


Chinese online retailer is planning an IPO for later this month and is trying to figure out its value in today's chinese and global market. 


How much money do they have?

The company is looking to raise $ 100 million (also referred to as A LOT of money), this is a little higher from its original premise of $ 86 million. Now all this money raising must happen before the IPO goes ahead. 
Net revenues for 2012 were established to be around $ 200 million, a figure that is thought to grow if the IPO is successful. 

An IPO in the books

The expanding e-commerce site is hoping to get listed on the New York stock exchange sometime in the coming months.
The company, based in Beijing, believes it can start selling shares at around $ 10 per ea which will hopefully go up in time if the IPO goes well and the company stays on the same track as it is now. 

What does the future hold?

Having already received investment from Zhenfund in the past, the company is looking elsewhere to secure the rest of its funding. 
Lightinthebox execs claim to have over 2.5 million users all over the world and have as their main competitor the giant Alibaba
China is an increasingly tough market for e-commerce sites as the sheer number of them is astounding. This is coupled with a domestic, semi-urban market that increasingly shops online because of their physical distance from shops, making it a lucrative environment if the cards are played right. 
Stay tuned to see where lightinthebox will go next. 

Alibaba buys Sina Weibo, Shocks the World

alibaba group logo

It may be time to begin a new section on this blog, it should be titled "Alibaba World Takeover." I feel a new tag being created. 


The News! 

While we were all busy following with excitement the abdication of the Netherlands' Queen (said no one ever), Alibaba was sneakily buying up stocks in Sina's Weibo
The USD586 million cheque gives the giant e-commerce platform an 18% stake in the country's largest microblogging service. 
This venture into social media is a big step for Alibaba who have not yet made any steps in this direction. In classy world dominating form, they chose to start this venture by buying up the largest, most important microblogging service in China. 

Is Sina Weibo a good buy?

The real challenge now will be to see if Weibo was worth the investment. Indeed, speculation that the site has already reached its peak are abundant and perhaps not all wrong. 
As Alibaba is such a leader, this may be a blessing for Sina if they do indeed believe some new blood needs to be pumped into the platform. 

New forms of Social Commerce

Apparently the future is in social commerce, the way in which smart marketing has combined the two favorite things we like to do on the internet: social media and buying. 
Indeed, if this is the case then this purchase by Alibaba will come as no surprise to anyone. 
Alibaba has also been putting its money in different areas including a flirting app (what?) and a music streaming site. 
All in all, Alibaba is moving forward with its expansion and hoping that Weibo will enable it to become a multi-performance company leading the chinese pack to global dominance. 

Russian Internet Statistics Infographics: Users Ecommerce Mobile

Russian Internet Statistics Thumbnail

You already know that the russian online market is developing, but now you have the figures, and numbers speak better than long speeches.

Click on the image to enlarge it: To Be Renamed


China's much loved electronics B2C e-commerce site has decided to get a new name in a bid to bring everything from the company together. Indeed, the owners, JingDong want everything to be under one proverbial roof if you may. The new name will be so learn it and remember it folks. 


What's new?

The 80 million registered users at will be also glad to find out that the company has created a new mascot called…wait for it, Joy! Apparently it represents loyalty to customers or something equally as hilarious and Chinese. 
A quick Google search has led me to understand that the mascot is indeed a robot-like dog. Now I see the link with loyalty. That is smooth Jingdong, very subliminal. 
So a rebranding and a new mascot! Clearly the big boys at Jingdong have been busy lately. 

Why all the change? 

Could it be that the company is struggling to keep up with the all the e-commerce happening in China at the moment? It is, after all, one of the most lucrative businesses to be in.
There are also allegations of price fixing floating around at the moment concerning Jingdong and others. This means that they have to be squeaky clean in the future to ensure their survival. It's like the airline gas scandal all over again! Will companies never learn?
On a positive note, the big Jingdong has managed to raise quite a bit of cash form investors, including form Walmart. 
Indeed, it has managed to amass cash akin to $1.1 billion to ensure its continued investment on the Chinese e-commerce market and potentially a move into international markets. 

Did you know? 

Jindong can actually deliver in 24h to 165 cities throughout China. I'm not even sure the UK has 165 cities. They must have their own fleet of jets or something, this cannot be done solely through snail mail! 

Vancl Becoming a Simple E-Commerce Site



China's e-commerce market is one of the most active ones in the world and is currently one of the most lucrative. Indeed, as much of China's middle class lives in more remote areas, far away from bricks and mortar commercial points, shopping online enables them to be a part of the domestic consumers market.
The once original e-commerce site that would only sell its own brand of clothing on its dedicated platform now seems to be morphing into any other e-commerce site out there. 

What has changed?

The ultimate goal used to be to have a site dedicated to the sale of Vancl clothing, whose motto is to provide affordable fashion to men and woman around the world. 
When the group launched V+ it started to offer 3rd party products perhaps in a bid to bring in more revenue. Despite this move into a larger selection of products, the company stuck to its sole idea of selling fashion and accessories. It did not however move into electronics or books as many other e-commerce sites have done. 
The big difference now is that we are seeing 3rd party products available on the platform instead of its own brand clothing. 
Now does this stem from a possible slowdown of sales from their own brand dedicated site? Is the company moving towards all the other e-commerce sites in China who are fighting for a part of the market?

Is Vancl sustainable?

The idea of an own-brand only platform may be a good way to ensure the distribution of their personal lines of clothing and really advertise the brand as an online fashion line. However, the reality is far from that as people want to buy different brands and e-commerce companies it seems can only exist if there is enough variety for people to keep coming back. 
The success of websites such as Tmall are precisely because they offer such a large variety of products and fashion items that people keep returning to the site as it is their reference for what they are looking for. 
It's similar in the way we use Amazon in the west as our reference books/electronics. 
If we speculate based on what we are seeing happening of vancl's site, there is a strong possibility that the two sites will become one and the own-brand space will disappear. 

No news from above

Nothing official has been announced nor have there been any hints dropped by big bosses at Vancl so we will just have to wait it out and see if predictions are correct. 
It's anyone's guess what Vancl will do next. Plus, with absolutely no news, advertising or movement from the company we can all go and place our bets. I personally think they will start breeding greyhounds and develop the sport all around China. 

Rakuten: An Internet Giant

Rakuten Logo

Rakuten, the Japanese giant e-commerce platform and the world's third largest e-commerce company by revenue (US$ 4.94 billion in 2011), is expanding beyond its traditional Japanese borders faster than ever.

Founded in 1997 (older than Google) by Hiroshi Mikitani, its flagship e-commerce website Rakuten Ichiba utilizes a business to business to consumer (B2B2C) model, whereby merchants create online shops on the marketplace and sell directly to their customers. Today, shoppers can browse over 95 Millions of products from more than 40 000 virtual shops.


Heading to the Western World

In the past two years, the company has closed an impressive figure of 10 deals, making several acquisitions such as the French e-commerce site Priceminister for €200 million, US-based for US$ 250 million and UK e-commerce for £25 million, Brazilian e-commerce company Ikeda, and the e-commerce startup Tradoria in Germany.

But the company hasn’t stop yet, as on Thursday, 14th of June, the Japanese firm has just bought the Spanish online video platform called As the Spanish firm is operating in a very different field than the e-commerce, it may be surprising at first but as explained by Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani:

 “The management team and technology are both very strong, as is the number and strength of its relationships across the video and hardware industries. We saw synergies in the ambition of both businesses to expand internationally while video on demand extends our digital goods offering”

Beside these acquisitions, Rakuten has also made some strategic investments in startups, investing US$ 100 million in Pinterest last May and purchased a minority equity stake in Russian online platform in last September. Moreover, the company is also looking for new growth opportunities in new markets and has bought the Canadian company Kobo, which produced the Kobo e-reader, in November 2011.


Keeping a Foot in South East Asia

The company is not only looking in Europe and the USA to expand, but also taking in consideration the huge potential of some countries in Asia such has Malaysia and Indonesia where the company has respectively launched Rakuten Online Shopping and Best Denki Indonesia. Both of these new services will be run under their in-house B2B2C selling platform.


Going to globalization

In 2010, in order to transform the Japanese company to an international one, Rakuten has announced its wish to make English the company’s official language by 2012. As the day of today, we don’t know if this goal was reach or not as no announcement has been made recently to confirm the success of this operation.

According to an Interview made by CNN in February 2011, Hiroshi Mikitani explained that some boards have been displayed within the Rakuten’s offices asking employees to speak English as much as possible each Friday even if most of them are Japanese.

After being asked to explain this specification, Hiroshi Mikitani said that, as the company is going to the global stage, they will face more global players which of course they need to compete against them, in this situation talking English for all employees is a part of the strategy.


Acquisitions and Investments made by Rakuten since 2010


  • January 2010      bitWallet, Inc. is consolidated as a subsidiary of Rakuten, Inc.
  • July 2010            Acquisition of for US$ 250 million 
  •                            Acquisition of Priceminister for €200 million
  • June 2011           Rakuten acquired the Brazilian firm Ikeda (Rakuten Brazil)
  • July 2011            Acquisition of startup Tradoria in Germany (Rakuten Deutschland)
  • Sept. 2011          Rakuten purchased a stake in the website
  • October 2011      Purchase of UK e-commerce for £25 million.
  • Nov. 2011           Rakuten agreed to purchase the Canadian ebook Kobo.
  • May 2012            Investment of US$ 100 million in
  • June 2012           Acquisition of the Spanish video platform

As the pace of acquisitions has increased in the past months, we could expect some news coming from the Rakuten headquarters and this could lead to an even bigger internet player from the Rakuten we know today.

The Future of Ecommerce: One Shop, Thousands of Windows


Ecommerce has reshaped how people shop these past few years. More and more people now search information and buy products or services online. 

And this current trend is here to stay. That is why online buyers and sellers have to adapt themselves to become smarter and then benefit of all opportunities offered by ecommerce.

Here are a few brief thoughts about the future of ecommerce.

Ecommerce as Custom-Tailored Experience

I think there is no doubt that successful ecommerce sites will have to create a unique experience for each visitor.

What I mean is that online retailers will have to provide you with a custom-tailored experience that can remember your preferences, estimate your level of interest in a certain item, and make dynamic adjustments to prices and options.

In brief, do everything so you have a great online shopping experience, and therefore transform your visit into a sale. 

In my opinion, by implementing powerful online marketing features, combined with attractive design, Ecommerce of the future will look like a static catalog less and less, and feel more and more like a dynamic offline shop.

Adapt to visitor’s environment

Don’t get it wrong, ecommerce websites already adapt their shop to visitors, but I’m sure this will go further.

Today, when you visit multilingual online shops, have you ever asked yourself why your default language (if available) is displayed?

Actually webmasters can set language of their website according to your web browser preferences or your IP location. For instance, if you have your browser in Chinese, ecommerce websites can choose to display their website in Chinese to you.

The same applies for mobile devices. When you visit an online shop from your iPhone or Android, you can be redirected to a mobile version if available.

However, I'm sure online retailers could go even deeper to adapt their shop windows to their visitor’s environment. Many have talked about a convergence of “mobile, local, and social”. I think ecommerce is clearly going this direction too.

1. Mobile

As Internet users access Internet from their mobile devices (phones, tablets) more frequently, mobile commerce (also known as m-commerce) has been booming the last few years.

Even though mobile commerce is still an emerging channel and only accounts for a tiny share of all ecommerce market, I'm convinced it will continue to grow in the next years.

2. Local

Online retailers could go further in terms of local customization. I’m actually thinking of three examples:

- Adapt your shop window according to your visitor's location. If your visitor is located near the seaside, maybe you could show him sunglasses and swimming suits! If he’s near mountains, he could be interested in walking shoes, backpacks, or hiking jackets.

- Adapt your shop window according to weather. Imagine today is really sunny, what about display sunglasses and swimming suits in your main shop window? 

- Adapt your shop window according to period. Many offline and online shop already do it. For example, if your target market is located in a country where Christmas is celebrated, show them items related to Christmas. 

3. Social

Social will also be the key of ecommerce in the future. Why? Because you are more likely to buy something that your friends recommend you.

Adapt to visitor’s behavior

In addition to adapt your windows to your visitor’s environment, you could also think of adapting your shop to your visitor’s behavior.

Let’s pretend one of your visitors visited cameras in your online shop. Well, maybe when he comes back to your homepage, it could be relevant to show him some cameras.

This technique could be actually similar to retargeting, also known as behavioral retargeting. You could therefore target your consumers based on their previous actions on your website, especially when their actions did not result in a sale.

China is Future of Ecommerce

China will undoubtedly play a major role in the future of ecommerce. China is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest ecommerce market by 2015, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

China's ecommerce market is projected to reach more than 2 trillion RMB (approximately $314 billion) in transaction value by 2015, the number of Chinese ecommerce shoppers growing to 329 million during the same period.  See our previous article about China's Ecommerce Market in 2010.

How do you see the future of ecommerce? Feel free to share your thoughts below.