Weekly Focus APAC: Alibaba Sees Commerce Growth on Strong User Acquisition

In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: Alibaba Sees Commerce Growth on Strong User Acquisition; Singapore Firm Launches On-demand Rental Marketplace; Honestbee Halts Singapore Delivery Services; and SingPost & Synagie Tout Logistics Services for SMBs.

Alibaba Sees Commerce Growth on Strong User Acquisition

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has reported a 51% increase in revenue for its fiscal 2019, ended March 31, generating ¥376.844bn (£42.78bn).

Earnings before tax from its core commerce business climbed 19% year-on-year to hit ¥136.167bn (£15.46bn) for the year, according to Alibaba. Alibaba attributed the revenue growth primarily to user acquisition in less developed cities, higher user engagement with improved click-through rate and sales conversion, as well as a larger addressable market with the company’s investment in its new retail strategy.

Gross merchandise volume on its China retail marketplaces grew 19% to hit ¥5.727tn (£650.21bn) for the year, with its mobile monthly active users reaching 721 million in March 2019. This was an addition of 104 million over the previous year, according to Alibaba.

Annual active consumers on its retail marketplaces clocked at 654 million, up 102 million from the previous year. More than 70% of this growth was from less developed cities.

The Chinese e-commerce operator added that its user acquisition initiatives, including referrals through its Alipay app, proved successful and helped drive consumption on its platforms.

Pointing to its new retail partnership with Starbucks Coffee Company, Alibaba said it rolled out on-demand delivery of the former’s services in more than 2,100 stores across 35 Chinese cities by end-April, 2019. It added that its Alipay and Taobao apps helped drive membership acquisition for Starbucks’ reward programme.

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said: “More and more, Alibaba is becoming synonymous with everyday consumption in China. Our cloud and data technology and tremendous traction in new retail have enabled us to continuously transform the way businesses operate in China and other emerging markets, which will contribute to our long-term growth.”

Singapore Firm Launches On-demand Rental Marketplace

A new online marketplace in Singapore is looking to facilitate the rental of items such as photography and sporting equipment, apparel, and video games.

Called ‘MyRent’, the platform was established to meet shifting demand for services in a sharing economy, where consumers were choosing to rent rather than purchase products for their own use.

The company had kicked off a soft launch last December and, since then, chalked up a base of more than 2,000 registered users in Singapore, offering more than 800 active listings. A Canon EOS 550D camera, for instance, is available for rent from S$5 (£2.85) a day, while a Nintendo Switch game console can be leased at S$8 (£4.57) a day.

MyRent offers a Lender Protection Guarantee to safeguard the interests of lenders.

The company’s CEO and co-founder Ishwar Dhanuka said: “The idea behind MyRent is to primarily allow users to own experiences instead of things. We want to decentralise ownership and create a win-win for both listers and renters, where the former can earn money by renting what they own and rarely use, while the latter can rent a product without actually having to pay the full amount to use it.”

Currently available in Singapore via a web portal or appstores on Google Android and Apple iOS, MyRent is targeting to expand its service to Malaysia by year-end.

SingPost & Synagie Tout Logistics Services for SMBs

Singapore Post (SingPost) and Synagie have joined hands to offer on-demand warehousing and fulfilment solutions to small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Available from the third quarter of 2019, the new services will be delivered by SingPost’s logistics arm Quantium Solutions and run on Synagie’s cloud commerce platforms. They are touted to provide pay-as-you-use, integrated warehousing services so brands and SMBs can avoid costly upfront investment to build their own facility.

The collaboration also would offer a one-stop option for businesses in the region to achieve faster turnaround times and better tap the robust growth in e-commerce, said the two partners. They added that the cloud-based solutions would enable SMBs to meet spikes in warehousing demands during peak sales seasons, giving them better cost savings and inventory management.

Synagie’s executive director and CEO Clement Lee said: “By combining our solutions and infrastructure, we can provide a fulfilment ecosystem for brands and SMBs that will bring about greater efficiencies and cost savings for both their offline and online businesses.”

Honestbee Halts Singapore Delivery Services

The embattled online marketplace is no longer offering food delivery services in its flagship Singapore market, as it looks to find a way to regain its business footing.

It also suspended its laundry services, though customers will still be able to order food from its physical retail space, Habitat by Honestbee, and have it delivered to the site’s surrounding areas.

The move comes weeks after the Singapore-based company ousted its co-founder Joel Sng as CEO amidst reports it was facing dire financial circumstances. It already had halted its services overseas, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In a note to customers, Honestbee said its laundry services were “temporarily put on hold” and the team was working to “get back to our normal buzzing self”. It added that it was still accepting online orders from its Fresh supermarket platform as well as offering grocery delivery services for customers who visited Habitat.