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Singapore e-commerce firm Y Ventures bets big on big data


A SINGAPORE company is making waves in the world of e-commerce – and doing it by using big data.

Last year, Y Ventures Group generated more than US$15 million in revenue, most of it from selling workaday consumer goods such as clocks, decor items and books – online, globally.

The e-commerce space is nascent in Singapore, and the company’s tool, data analytics, remains underutilised, but the company has ventured into both spheres.

Profitable since its inception in 2003, it has in the three years to 2016, nearly doubled its revenue to beyond US$15 million.

Y Ventures Group, not to be confused with US venture capital firm Y Ventures, is both a retailer and distributor. It carries more than 50 brands, including its own brand, JUST NILE, across 24 online marketplaces such as Amazon, Lazada and Tokopedia.

For an idea of scale: It sold 20,000 clocks in the last two years alone.

The company was founded by a pair of brothers, Adam and Alex Low, who are chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) respectively.

In an interview with The Business Times, CEO Mr Low said: “Our proprietary data-analytics platform has given us the confidence to sell effectively in online marketplaces, and to buy directly from our brand partners and suppliers.”

He said the group’s use of data springs from “trying to understand what the consumer wants”. To do that, it runs data-analytics tools on large data sets to suss out consumer sentiment, drawing on product reviews and social media comments. Mr Low said this gives good insights into what consumers want.

“It enables us to refine the optimal merchandise range that would match our customers’ demands. It also enables better marketing of our products though the optimisation of our product listings, such as by emphasising key features of products that directly address the ‘pain points’ of customers.”

Y Ventures Group also conducts predictive analysis on the pricing of and demand for the items in its inventory by drawing trends from various online marketplaces and running statistical modelling.

Mr Low said: “This helps us better manage our inventory, while we implement smart-pricing strategies to optimise sales.”

He added that refining the group’s data-analytics platform is an ongoing process. The group draws on actual sales figures to validate and improve its initial findings, thus enabling a continuous building of more robust data analytics.

It shares its data insights with its brand partners and suppliers so that they can create better products for their consumers.

Mr Low said: “With our strong data- analytics capabilities and familiarity with various online marketplaces in different jurisdictions, we offer our brand partners and suppliers an efficient channel through which their merchandise may be sold through us to multiple jurisdictions globally.

“This helps retailers strengthen their brand recognition without having to establish or maintain their own infrastructure and multiple seller accounts across online marketplaces.”

Asked about Y Ventures Group’s future plans, group chairman Mr Low said these include building up its core data-analytics capabilities and expanding its geographical presence and product range.

“We aim to enhance our tech capabilities, with a focus on generating actionable data-analytics information across the online marketplaces in which we operate. This will enable us to better predict trends, consumer demand, optimise prices and thus further maximise sales.”

He added: “Currently, our largest market presence is in the US, with pre-mature market penetration in a few European, North Asian and South-east Asian countries. We aim to anchor and expand our presence in these regions.”

In terms of merchandise, Y Ventures will continue expanding its existing catalogue. He said: “There are a lot of well-known brands in these segments. We are confident of helping them sell better. We also have our eyes open on other product segments if the opportunity arises.”

Asked about the group’s e-commerce strategy, CEO Mr Low said the group has outsourced capital-intensive activities such as warehousing and fulfilment to third-party vendors.

“By working with third-party logistics partners, we’re able to scale quickly into leading online marketplaces in multiple countries while maintaining a lean team and keeping costs low.

“This has allowed the company to remain profitable consistently, while growing at a rapid pace.”

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