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Asia’s Biggest Smart Commerce Platform Continues to Disrupt
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July 1, 2019 News E-Commerce

 

Traditionally, when starting a business, apart from having funding and a business plan, an entrepreneur would need to have a physical presence or store to sell their products.

Today, with e-commerce and online shopping, businesses no longer need that physical space to sell their products. SHOPLINE, one of Asia’s biggest e-commerce platforms, offers these services not only to SMEs but all types of merchants.

Founded in Hong Kong in 2013, SHOPLINE started from a 3-person team to a company with over 100 staff in Asia, namely in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. The global smart commerce platform recently expanded its services to Malaysia. SHOPLINE enables merchants to set up online stores easily with its wide selection of shop designs, payment gateways and shipping carriers tailored to the needs of local and cross-border merchants. Today, SHOPLINE has helped more than 150,000 entrepreneurs, SMEs and large enterprises go digital.

In an email interview with Disruptive Tech Asean, Tong Wong, Co-Founder and CEO of SHOPLINE, explained how the company grew from a small startup to serving over 150,000 merchants in just six years and became Asia’s biggest smart commerce platform.

“It boils down to how we provide services to our merchants, as opposed to what. You need to have a powerful platform and product portfolio for new customers to understand your value proposition. But afterwards, success isn’t about how much revenue we’re generating per se. It’s about whether our merchants are succeeding in their endeavours. Have we helped to solve their business needs? Are they growing in the way they wanted?”

Tony said they work very closely with their customers and are always looking for feedback to understand what tools they need in order to achieve their goals – whether that is to increase sales, speed up processes or diversify their channels, both in the short and long term. It’s in direct response to those conversations that SHOPLINE continues to evolve, upgrade its offerings and provide new features.

“We invest in having a physical presence in our markets and employ local talents to those markets to ensure that we’re able to provide advice and answer any questions based on a real understanding of a merchant’s landscape, as well as in a language that they’re comfortable with. I don’t think we’d have been able to establish the level of trust we have with our customers today if we had chosen to centralise everything.”

With 150,000 merchants operating their business with SHOPLINE, Tony said their latest expansion in Malaysia would see them likely spend the rest of this year focusing on the current markets they have and ensuring their merchants are getting the most out of the platform; be it helping them to go digital, or go global. Tony added that they are exploring Thailand and Indonesia as well as their next potential markets.

Having said that, Tony admits that the market and industry are rather competitive. But they see that as a signal of opportunity, being positive rather than negative.

“At SHOPLINE, we don’t just look at building e-stores. Many of our merchants started in bricks-and-mortar, while others value different sales channels such as social media – and consumers flit through them all. We, therefore, think it’s important that those channels are unified into one seamless, omnichannel experience to nurture loyalty, ensure retention and increase spend – and have a range of dedicated solutions to support that online to offline transition (and vice versa).”

Tony believes that having a presence in multiple markets also allows them to offer merchants with international ambitions the platform and knowledge to grow through SHOPLINE so that they can expand knowing that they’re informed and are being strategic about the decisions they’re making.

With so much customer data in their hands, Tony said they take cybersecurity extremely seriously and have a dedicated team performing regular checks and maintenance to ensure their products are always secure, and data privacy is strictly upheld.

“We see this as a fundamental part of our service and refuse to compromise on these standards. For example, we offer free SSL encryption to all our merchants, and were the first to do so in this region – most other platforms charge a premium for this.”

As a cloud-native, born-in-the-cloud company, Tony explained that this was one of the main reasons why they’ve been able to grow as quickly as they have over the last couple of years because it significantly simplifies infrastructure. As the cloud evolves, he added that they’ve learned to see it not as one big platform, but several, and have now adopted a multi-cloud strategy to leverage the strengths of each provider. SHOPLINE is also taking advantage of the slew of ready-made applications that are now available, instead of having to build their own or start from scratch and reviewing their server requirements.

Tony Wong with Fiona Lau, COO and Co-Founder, SHOPLINE at the SHOPLINE’s MY Launch event

Coming back to their expansion in Malaysia, SHOPLINE’s offerings will include its range of online to online solutions, which enables merchants to connect across channels and optimise the customer’s shopping experience. The services include the SHOPLINE Kiosk, a CRM tool which allows for membership sign up with a mobile number or email in seconds, and the SHOPLINE Broadcast Centre, a marketing automation tool enabling merchants to reach customers via Facebook’s chatbot, SMS and email.

SHOPLINE will also offer Shoplytics, a proprietary smart analytics dashboard that allows merchants to visualise and analyse data related to their store’s web traffic, revenue, product performance, customers, marketing and promotion campaign performance. With that said, we asked SHOPLINE on their thoughts of implementing AI in their solutions as well to provide a more seamless experience, and here’s what Tony said.

“Our approach to new technologies is always to consider our merchants first – will it help them succeed, and achieve their goals? When it comes to AI and automation, the answer is yes.

I don’t want to say too much at this stage – but if we consider that some of our customers’ typical challenges include how to drive more revenues smartly, and to reduce operational time and costs, you can quickly see where AI and automation could be impactful. Essentially, watch this space.”

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