The OnTheList flash sale platform fills a crucial gap in the Asian retail industry. By serving as a third-party vendor of members-only flash sales, it not only offers brands an environmentally friendly way to get rid of past-season stock, it also gives brands access to a growing consumer database with a more direct, D2C-style subscription consumer relationship. The two founders of OnTheList, Diego Dultzin Lacoste and Delphine Lefay, talked to Digital in Asia about their online and offline retail platform.
Digital in Asia: How did OnTheList find a niche in the Hong Kong premium retail industry?
Diego & Delphine: Prior to launching OnTheList, we worked in regional and international luxury/premium retail brands in Europe and in Hong Kong. With such a fast moving industry led by seasonal trends, there is often a lot of past-season stock occupying valuable warehouse space with few options to get rid of them. For many brands in Hong Kong, the only options available were either burning or burying the stock – both of which are not environmentally sustainable options.
That was when we saw an opportunity to launch an independent, third-party platform that would work directly with such brands to host flash sales and give life to old inventory that would have otherwise been destroyed. While this has been a concept well established and received in fashion capitals across Europe, we found that there was no such option in Hong Kong. OnTheList was the first of its kind in Asia. We have since held over 150 flash sales in partnership with over 250 premium brands in Hong Kong.
The “secret” here we believe, is our approach. Through the flash sales we host, we are able to offer consumers access to premium products at attractive prices, and brands the opportunity to clear past-season items and connect with new customers. While our sales are members-only, membership is free for sign up. Additionally, we cater to current consumer habits and preferences – opening sales from 8am to 8pm, making it convenient for shoppers popping in before work.
We also bucked the trend of going digital first – we started with an offline channel as we have always believed that physical presence creates a sense of desire for purchase – our physical flash sales are held over a short time frame of usually just four days, with stock replenished daily and sale mechanics changing. We have since extended our reach online for sales in Hong Kong, but our entrance into the Singapore market will similarly begin with sales happening in physical spaces as a priority.
DIA: Why is now the right time for expansion across Asia?
D&D: In the past two years since the inception of OnTheList, we have worked with a variety of brands, from fashion and cosmetics to wine and lifestyle, from mid-range to luxury. We have also kicked off our online platform. While our flash sales platform is well-grounded in Hong Kong, our regional brand partners are always asking for our services in neighbouring countries where there are few options to dispose of old inventory. With that, we decided it was definitely worthwhile exploring options in Asia.
Singapore was our first country in mind due to similar customer shopping behaviour and general lifestyle similarities. This coupled with Singapore’s strong economy and economic policies, makes it a great country for our first step overseas.
DIA: How are consumer retail habits across Asia changing? Any differences to the West?
D&D: There has definitely been a shift in consumer premium retail habits. Many studies state that millennials are proving to be the strongest demographic segment spending on luxury – brands must cater to this change and understand millennial shopping behaviour both in-store and online. While millennials enjoy finer products, they are also a price sensitive demographic and brand loyalty is not as easy to maintain as it was once before. In recent years, both retailers in Asia and Europe have enjoyed huge profits accelerated by Chinese shoppers, whilst Western counterparts who enjoy the luxury as well have a vastly different spending behaviour.
DIA: How do you help minimise the environmental impact of fashion retail?
D&D: On average, 217,000 kg of textiles would be sent to landfills daily in Hong Kong. Through flash sales, brands are able to dispose of old inventory in a more sustainable form as the old stock would not go to waste and brands would still receive some returns on the unwanted inventory. In the past two years, we assisted over 250 brands, across premium fashion, homeware, and cosmetics, in holding over a hundred flash sales and selling over a million items that would have otherwise gone to waste. For items that remain after our flash sales, we always encourage the brand to donate them to charity and continue to help people in need worldwide.
In a number of ways, blockchain technologies offer advantages over the current financial system. A case in point is foreign exchange, one of the key speculative use cases for the blockchain maximalist: in short, it’s difficult, expensive and slow to send $10,000 overseas using our current system of banking; but it’s easy, cheap and fast to send the equivalent amount in cryptocurrency, free from foreign exchange fees, in just seconds. But no one has actually proved out this use case. Yet.
Enter Singapore startup TenX. They’ve created a global credit card, using blockchain technology to take advantage of fast and cheap foreign exchange, but running on existing MasterCard and Visa infrastructure to ensure payment is easy and scalable.
On the front end users can make payments anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. On the back end, the credit card is linked to a cryptocurrency wallet, meaning assets are held in Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin. TenX instantly converts the cryptocurrencies stored in the wallet into the native fiat currency when a transaction is made, whatever the location.
A few weeks back Digital in Asia met with Toby Hoenisch, one of the founders of TenX, to talk about their ambitious vision to become the only platform necessary to create a bridge between cryptocurrency and existing global payment systems.
Digital in Asia: Good to catch up Toby. Is it true that you launched your first start-up four years ago? That’s pretty early for blockchain.
Toby Hoenisch: Back then, we pitched another startup, not blockchain. It was the same co-founders or partially the same co-founders anyway. It never went anywhere but we learned a lot of lessons back then.
DIA: What were the biggest lessons?
TB: Get users. Don’t just build and hope for the best.
DIA: That’s solid advice for any startup! So, when did TenX kick off?
TB: Three years ago. And that was still quite early for blockchain, three years ago. I’ve been in the blockchain space for five, six years. Part of the funding we used for the previous startup was through early gains and Bitcoin. I’m not a trillionaire right now like how I might wish, because we spent all the Bitcoin we had back then on the previous startup. But we’re doing quite well for our company, so it’s all goo
DIA: What was the inspiration behind TenX?
TB: Connecting the blockchain and crypto world with the real world. Three years ago, it was still crypto-geeks and nerds like myself, and everyone else was like, “What the heck is this?” And it was really disconnected. We wanted to bring the benefits of cryptocurrency to real people. And the first thing to solve is making it spendable.
DIA: Can you just quickly detail what TenX does and the value proposition?
TB: TenX makes cryptocurrency expendable. We have a cryptocurrency wallet. You deposit Bitcoin, Ethereum, tokens – whatever it is – and we give you a debit card that you can attach to your wallet, and then spend it anywhere in the world where Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
DIA: In many ways, you’re moving into an area that is almost the inverse of cryptocurrency, certainly ideologically. And payments are also seeing more regulation recently.
TB: You’re right, it can be complex. But what we do is simple. We’re basically the bridge to the real world of payments. Right now, we have Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. But our goal is to get to 200 cryptocurrency and tokens ready for payments within another year.
DIA: And what do you think is the future of the payment space in the short and long-term? Who will be the big winners and losers?
TB: Very early to tell. Depends on the timeframe. We’re still so early in crypto that what we do actually makes sense. Because we connect this new industry to the existing payment rails that are out there. Visa, Mastercard, maybe UnionPay or Alipay in the future. You have to remember, merchants don’t care about crypto right now because there are not enough users out there. Merchants care about revenue first. So for the next five years, I think it will be players like us bridging crypto to existing payment rails. But once you have sufficient penetration on the general population, you actually can do peer to peer payments. And then you can actually directly own merchant payment relationships. Our business will have to change and adapt because there are major interests betting on those legacy players. Crypto will disrupt, but it will take a while, and it may shape up quite differently to how it looks now.
DIA: So what does the future look like for Visa and Mastercard?
TB: They will still be around for a long time. Simply because they’re already there. But they will have to lower their fees to compete with crypto, and the channels will change. The cards themselves have a ten-year shelf life. You might still be paying using Visa payment rails in the future, but you’ll use your phone or other technology. The terminal will still stick around for a while.
DIA: TenX is based in Singapore. How many people do you have? How have you found Singapore as a place to set up a blockchain business?
TB: We have 60 people in total at TenX, and 80% are based here in Singapore. We’re a global company. Crypto is always global. We do have a big user base in Europe. Mainly because three of the four co-founders are Austrian. We have a very strong German-speaking user base. Singapore is good because it’s a relatively friendly regulatory environment. It was a bit of a bet three years ago as a place to build a cryptocurrency finance app in Asia, but today, it turns out it’s one of the top countries to be as a cryptocurrency business.
DIA: How many users do you have and how fast is your growth?
TB: Maybe I should share that we had a bit of a setback earlier in the year. We launched our cards last year, and we scaled really quickly to 200,000 users towards the end of the year, and then our partner bank lost their license. Their Visa license. So our card stopped working. And now we’re working with five different insurers to deliver a live product. So the growth metrics don’t make sense at this point. We are on it. We have new insurers. We have multiple strategies, and we’re trying to get our own license so we don’t have to worry about that anyway.
DIA: Something similar happened to Coinhako, in that their fiat on and off ramps got locked down. Was your issue a Singapore problem, or a global problem?
TB: No. It was a European bank, actually. The good side to that is that this specific payment bank was also the issuer for many of our competitors. So now we know that 200,000 is not the market users. The market is way bigger than that, and all of those users are waiting for a card.
DIA: Who wants to spend their crypto? The market is so focused around HODL right now.
TB: That’s looking at it in reverse. Of course, a lot of people still look at crypto as an investment and hope it should go up. Our users have passed this step, and are like, “I don’t want the old world.” Because there is more friction in the old world than there is in the new world.
Even though the crypto world is still smaller, the financial services you can access here are still less in number than in the old world, this is changing rapidly. And advanced users want to stay in this world.
Some of them, yes, they want to get the maximum upside, but they stay in this world because it’s a more seamless experience everywhere on the planet. And we just add payments to that, so you don’t have to actually go back.
DIA: How do they get their crypto in the first place?
TB: They are already in this world.
DIA: Sure, but unless they’re mining, sitting on a massive pot of crypto which they’re spending bit by bit, or they get paid in crypto, they’re still going to be operating in the non-crypto world. They’re still going to have a bank account where real money can come in. How many people are 100% in the crypto world right now?
TB: We pay salaries in Bitcoin for a lot of people. It’s just so much more convenient. If you run an international company, a small one, you can’t figure out payroll in every country in the world. That’s hard. Bitcoin solves that problem, super easy.
DIA: Cool. Do you think that supports the Bitcoin store-of-value argument?
TB: I mean, Bitcoin has a volatility problem, which is one of the things that people don’t like, or don’t want to put all their money in it, which is a very valid point. In the crypto world, Bitcoin is still the strongest store of value. If it’s the one you should bet on depends on your personal situation. I would say everybody should have some money in the crypto space, some Bitcoin, and then allocate, whatever.
DIA: So, at the moment, you’re a bridge between cryptocurrency and the world of ‘real’ money. Do you have your own token to facilitate this?
TB: Yes. We have the PAY Token, and we launched token sale last year, June. And we continued to work on the exact model, mainly because the regulators keep changing the rules, but yeah. It’s been working very good. When you compare a token sale or a token, compared to venture capital, venture capital, you get around one, two, three investors. Hopefully, they’re all strategic, which they never are, maybe one.
Or you have like us, 50,000 token holders, probably most of them are users. They’re directly related to you. They will tell you what you do wrong. They will care. They will come to your user testing. It’s just so much better. That’s the huge upside that a token sale can do that venture capital just cannot do. Base it on your boredom, hopefully, you pick the right guy to tell you what to do, but maybe one or two. You have 50,000.
DIA: And that community markets for you as well, and they’re influencers.
TB: Yes. Of course. It just goes hand in hand. It’s like, token holders and users, it becomes like a community form of money, or token, or whatever you want to call it. And it incentivizes people to really stick with us.
DIA: That’s awesome Toby. Thanks very much. Very interesting discussion.
As a rising star of Southeast Asia’s media tech scene, and the publisher behind theAsianparent.com, AsianMoneyGuide.com, and HerStyleAsia.com, Tickled Media reaches over 12 million women monthly across SEA via its content and community platforms.
We caught up with Adrian Watkins, newly appointed Chief Strategy Officer at Tickled Media, to discuss plans for the future and his enhanced role within the business. As part of his expanded brief, Adrian works alongside Tickled Media Founder and CEO Roshni Mahtani to help develop, communicate, execute, and sustain strategic initiatives ranging from commercial positioning through to wider business rationale.
Digital in Asia: What have been your team’s greatest achievements in the past 12 months?
Adrian Watkins: It was a year in the making, but we’ve redesigned and re-engineered the front-end of theAsianparent, which has resulted in faster loading speeds, higher page engagement, better email capture, and innovations in commercial solutions. We’ve also created an enhanced Brand Solutions programme that offers clients a flexible, data-driven playground where they can manage budgets, split-test new concepts and creatives, and find what resonates with their desired audience over a longer period of time. This process takes them from market research, through to content creation and distribution, social media / KOL amplification, and finally to campaign conversions.
DIA: Have you been focusing around programmatic?
Adrian: We’ve maximised our network yields by signing upwards of 15 new vendors in the automated revenue space, offering a mix of programmatic, outstream and native capabilities, and allowing for better commercial terms while lessening our reliance on Facebook and Google.
But my proudest achievement is building up the team. There is no greater display of growth than a team member picking up a pen to explain in detail what he or she is saying on a whiteboard!
DIA: What’s your next big project as CSO?
Adrian: This company is on the cusp of something truly exciting – becoming the largest women-focused media tech company in the region. Securing our Series B funding earlier in the year allowed us to launch new content verticals to better inform and empower Asian women: Asian Money Guide and HerStyleAsia. We’ve got a couple more in the pipeline so that’s what’s keeping the team on their toes.
Meanwhile, we just re-launched our app for theAsianparent and it’s pretty exciting to be able to work on the largest social network for parents. With easy-to-use Q&A, mums can harness the collective wisdom and experiences of our active community of parents, experts, and parents-to-be, as they share and grow their parenting knowledge.
Watkins was the Founder and Managing Director of data, tech, and marketing consultancy firm PerformanceAsia, and was previously a Board member of the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA). He also has a proven corporate track record within world-class organisations such as Virgin, News Corporation, and CBS, leading initiatives in business development, company acquisition, monetising existing and new territories, and building and managing commercial and content teams in multiple countries.
Both Tickled Media and the wider industry stand to benefit from this appointment, given Watkins’ client focus and data mastery. Sachin Pagey, Director of Strategy and Marketing Services at Mega Lifesciences, weighs in: “Adrian’s promotion to Chief Strategy Officer is a great move for Tickled Media and one that Mega We Care fully endorses. I’ve worked very closely with Adrian over the last year for the launch of Baby Natura, our plant-based whole food, in the region. The depth of insight, energy and enthusiasm he’s brought to our long-term partnership is much welcome. We look forward to enhancing this relationship with theAsianparent even further as we launch our new products and move into more markets in 2019. With Adrian’s promotion to CSO, the long-term outlook for Tickled Media is undoubtedly positive!”
Tickled Media Founder and CEO Roshni Mahtani added: “At a time when tech and media are evolving at breakneck speed, we need someone to help usher Tickled into a new era of insight-led innovation. We’re looking no further than Adrian, who has done remarkable things for our campaign delivery process, smoothed out so many operational hiccups, and brought in streams of new revenue.”
Fashion is the biggest ecommerce category, while payment methods and delivery issues are the biggest concerns for online retailers and marketers in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, according to a new report from Econsultancy and Shopee exploring challenges and opportunities in ecommerce across the region.
The results revealed that 51% of online retailers and 41% of marketers saw their online sales rise, but for 28% of online retailers and 29% of marketers, online sales remained the same relative to the past year.
Fashion and accessories was the most popular category on online marketplaces, with 23% of online retailers and 16% of marketers active in it. Health and beauty was the second most popular category, with 17% of online retailers and 15% of marketers offering choices in it.
The survey also revealed that marketers in Vietnam (11%) were the most active in the computers, camera and mobile phones category, edging out Singapore (10%) and Taiwan (10%).
While around a third of online retailers (32%) and marketers (33%) indicated that they did not sell internationally and had no plans to, the ecommerce market in the region is poised to grow with 54% of online retailers and 39% of marketers planning to offer their wares and services to other countries.
As the region’s digital ad spend grows, consumer data has become a massive by-product for brands, but lack of training in digital and data related skills is a key barrier to campaign success.
Research by Adobe Digital Insights reveals that gaps exist in the applications of data-led creativity in digital campaigns for Asia Pacific. 65% of 18 to 34-year-olds prefer ads based on their interests, with a third of the same demographic believing advertisers can do better in personalisation.
Much of this can be attributed to brands appointing multiple agencies that end up working in silos focusing on distinct and individual KPIs. The lack of digital collaboration ultimately results in wasted advertising dollars.
“The challenge in tailoring digital campaigns lies in recognising where data originates and how they influence creative briefs to develop highly relevant and engaging content. Especially in Southeast Asia, where programmatic is only beginning to take off, brands must be quick to pick up on key learnings, ensuring advertising budget drives toward achieving business bottom lines,” said Miranda Dimopoulos, CEO & Ambassador to SEA, IAB Singapore.
To encourage a data-driven approach, it is imperative on brands to leverage a Creative Communications Process framework across the entire campaign development process.
“As data-driven marketing becomes the new normal, it is important to advocate data-inspired creativity among marketers, agencies and brand owners. Using the Creative Communications Process framework, digital campaigns can be readily optimised with insights from the data signals around us, to develop engaging and impactful creative platforms and campaign ideas,” said Deepika Nikhilender, Senior Vice President, Xaxis Asia Pacific.
Creativity Inspired by Data accounts for current industry needs, with contribution by senior representatives from BBH, Twitter, Digimind, Xaxis, Wavemaker and Unruly.
To get a copy of the Creativity Inspired by Data white paper, click here.
Using customer relationship management (CRM) or data management platform (DMP) data to accurately target audiences across web, mobile browser and apps, Criteo Audience Match provides marketers with a new way to re-engage their customer base with paid display campaigns. Criteo has built a foundation of deterministic IDs within Criteo Shopper Graph, enabling beta customers to see a match rate of more than 60 percent of their existing client lists with online profiles.
Criteo Kinetic Design with Video automatically optimises every visual aspect of an ad to inspire and engage a shopper. Kinetic Design already allows for more than 17 trillion variations from one base design in display ads. This has been now expanded to incorporate video, creating personalized video ads that feature relevant products based on Criteo’s complete understanding of the shopper. These video ads are created automatically, on-the-fly, and appear across web and mobile.
“Collaboration in an open ecosystem levels the playing field and paves the way for commerce companies to shape their future. This is especially crucial for eCommerce companies in Asia-Pacific where the market is expected to grow to more than US$3 trillion by 2021,” said Huang Hanming, “We have developed Criteo Commerce Marketing Ecosystem to unleash the value of collaboration and the power of data to all who participate.”
As consumer video consumption continues to grow, Criteo’s clients can now use video to relevantly re-engage shoppers without production time, resources, or costs. Video is delivered in a non-intrusive manner to provide a seamless browsing experience – in app, in feed or on a website. Criteo’s video capability also allows marketers to take advantage of video ads on a cost-per-click basis.
“Understanding consumer purchasing behavior is challenging for retailers given that shoppers are on more platforms than ever before, with collected data being difficult to integrate and analyse, at scale,” said Alban Villani, General Manager, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Criteo. “To help retailers and brands overcome this challenge, Criteo Audience Match and Criteo Kinetic Design with Video, as part of a robust suite of commerce marketing technologies, will support the full shopper journey, enabling brands to create relevant and engaging experiences for customers online and offline.”
1. V-Key managing trust and identity with virtual hardware on your phone
V-Key is a global leader in software based digital security. V-Key is the inventor of V-OS, the world’s first virtual secure element that uses advanced cryptographic and cybersecurity protections to comply with standards previously reserved only for expensive hardware solutions. How does it work? They create a virtual hardware smart chip within an app, meaning identity is held in the same way as on a cashcard smart chip – and with the same level of security. Interesting ultimately for anyone concerned with real world identity, which is why they already work with governments worldwide. Prepare for your passport to change in the near future. Trust simplified.
Handshakes applies natural language processing and machine learning technology in an innovative way to analyse corporate data and publicly available unstructured data. The platform can then fuse this data with a companies existing unstructured databases to provide strategic intelligence about who to trust and who to do business with. Exciting stuff and sure to disrupt back offices globally – corporate due diligence is suddenly a trivial task.
Xjera Labs focuses on revolutionary smart video content analytics (VCA) by implementing deep learning based VCA for various commercial applications. Kind of like Minority Report.
4. IOT Factory simplify the Internet of Things for normal entrepreneurs
IOT Factory have built a unique Software Platform to make any sensor, any device, using any network (M2M, LoRa, SigFox, BLE and many more) speak a desired language, through dashboards, reports, smart alerts, and easy integration capabilities. Essentially they’ve automated the back end of the Internet of Things so non-technical innovators can start to build on it. Thank you.
SettleMint is a fintech player working with distributed ledger technology. One of their projects, called SettleMint Ballot Box, uses immutable blockchain technology to record votes. In doing so, the company aims to address any doubts regarding the outcome of voting processes and elections. Use cases for the blockchain are crucial for pushing this forward.
6. Playpass bringing versatile Apple Pay / Paywave type technology to events
PlayPass are all about events and technology. They provide RFID solutions to allow better event management – in short every attendee gets an RFID wristband. From the moment the gates open real-time reporting tracks and displays the number of visitors on-site, which brands and activations are of interest to that visitor and what they consume and purchase.
SGInnovate this week presented ARISE, an Artificial Intelligence-themed event at innovfest unbound 2017as part of a long term investment in AI and data driven technology. The anchor event of the Smart Nation Innovations Week, innovfest unbound is Asia’s largest innovation festival with more than 8,000 attendees.
ARISE is planned to provide a platform for researchers, academia and industry leaders to explore emerging AI trends and give insight into how it will affect the way we live and work in years to come.
Among the leading figures from the tech sphere at ARISE was Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop (first proposed by Elon Musk), who revealed an inside story of the smart people and smart machines powering the next generation of transport tech.
Macro trends such as machine learning, robotics in the workplace and in the domestic sphere, emerging technologies, and the march towards artificial sentience were also covered.
Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of SGInnovate, said: “Artificial Intelligence has the potential to dramatically impact many areas, such as Healthcare, Transportation and Education. In fact, without even realising it, we have all embraced some form of AI in our daily lives – such as virtual assistants in our phones – and the next few years will bring exciting advances in many ways.”
“We passionately believe that Singapore has the right resources to be an important hub for research, so the challenge for us here is to ensure we are leaders in the development and use of AI capabilities to improve the lives of people here and around the world. We think ARISE is an extremely timely event, and we look forward to the constructive discussion around the challenges and the opportunities, that AI will bring.”
Today, Singapore is already a fast-growing influence within the realm of AI with the country ranked second globally by field weighted citation impact for AI R&D.
On a global scale, the AI market is growing rapidly. It is estimated that revenue for the cognitive systems and AI market will increase from an around US$8 billion (S$11.1 billion) in 2016 to over US$47 billion (S$65 billion) by 2020.
To further boost Singapore’s AI capabilities, the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore recently announced AI.SG, a national programme in AI driven by a government-wide partnership with SGInnovate as one of the partners.
NRF will invest up to S$150 million over five years in AI.SG, which will catalyse and synergise Singapore’s AI capabilities to power our future economy with practical solutions to real-world challenges.
“As a private company wholly-owned by the Singapore Government, SGInnovate has one purpose – to help aspiring entrepreneurs in Singapore imagine, start, and scale technology-intensive products with the potential to be globally relevant. We are working with entrepreneurs and investors in industries such as healthcare, energy and transportation, all of which are seeing a flurry of artificial intelligence (AI) startups. The launch of AI.SG helps give a solid foundation which a wide range of activities in academia, research, corporates, entrepreneurs and investors can build upon,” added Mr Leonard.
Unilever Foundry and Padang & Co this week launched LEVEL3, a co-working space that pushes the boundaries of collaboration and corporate innovation. Redefining the traditional concept of workspaces, LEVEL3 brings together Unilever, startups, and entrepreneurs to encourage innovation and create new partnerships that deliver real and meaningful business impact.
“LEVEL3 stems from our mission to make sustainable living commonplace. It offers our business a direct connection with disruptive technologies and changemakers to shape the way we work – ultimately impacting people’s lives,” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, South East Asia and Australasia. “LEVEL3 is the springboard for startups to scale and build successful businesses.”