eTail Asia returns for the 7th year

SINGAPORE, 11 December 2019– eTail Asia, part of the inaugural eTail event series dedicated to the continued growth and evolution of online and omni-channel retail announces the 7th edition to be held at Sheraton Towers, Singapore from 5th to 7th March 2019.

Continuing to evolve as ‘THE’ only destination event for e-retailers to share best practices, challenge conventions and network among the leaders of Asian eCommerce and digital marketing, eTail Asia is back in 2019 with 400+ Founders, CEOs, CMOs, and Heads of eCommerce and Digital Marketeers in attendance.

China’s cross-border eCommerce has been growing at an unprecedented rate with a rising demand of overseas product and higher disposable income of affluent shoppers. According to eMarketer, China is poised to top US$1.64 trillion in sales by 2020, representing about 23% of total retail sales. With the burgeoning growth of the eCommerce sector, there is potential for neighboring countries, especially SMEs in Asia to tap into the new, emerging market, increasing their trade with China.

Though the market appears to be fragmented, eTail Asia addresses the exciting opportunities awaiting brands prepared to win over Chinese consumers, adapt to local nuances and create a multifaceted digital ecosystem to drive eCommerce sales, a hot topic set for 2019.

Ms Suhana Begum, Conference Director of eTail Asia, says, “Since 2011, the top retail minds have converged each year for eTail Asia. With engaging presentation and panels covering thought-provoking content focusing on the latest retail technology, eTail Asia is designed to help you achieve omni-channel and digital excellence to drive profits and stay one step ahead of the competition.”

2019 will be a year of metamorphosis for the industry players who aspire to succeed as an eCommerce brand in an era of dominant e-Tailers. Danny Levy, General Manger of WBR Singapore, says ““With power in the hands of consumers, retailers have been battling with integrating technology into how they interact with consumers through an omni-channel shopping experience. At eTail Asia heads of eCommerce and Digital Marketing from the regions leading retailers attend to get the insights they need to tackle this challenge and enhance their multi-channel and customer experience programmes.”

Driving customer engagement and loyalty by establishing a relationship which is authentic, functional and relatable is of paramount importance. eTail Asia dishes case studies and discussions on how businesses can leverage on blockchain, AR and VR in boosting connectivity and interaction between brand and customers to optimise the quality of CX. Having a group of loyal customer advocates for the brand has become the holy grail for businesses.
The changing landscape of disruptive technologies and lackluster cookie cutter method has forced businesses to embrace change in recent years.

To reap the benefits of fully, engaged customers, brands have to build affinity through personalisation and customisation where communication strategies have to be adapted accordingly to each individual based on their preference. eTail Asia addresses the narrative in wielding marketing efforts around customers which helps them to resonate with a brand bringing about a revolutionary change in purchasing decisions.
Millennial shoppers are gravitating towards speedy transactions and on-the-go online shopping leading to the proliferation of m-commerce.

To capitalize on this trend, businesses seek to integrate a seamless, simple and intuitive payment experience for customers, enduring the relationship across all channels. With mobile being the primary digital touch point due to its convenience, omni-channel payment is key to future-proof a customer’s checkout experience. Streamlining the customers experience without hassle will ultimately increase a customer’s satisfaction, a strong indicator of conversion.
Beginning with how you can enter and succeed in China’s $800 billion eCommerce market on Day 1 of the conference, retailers will have an opportunity to hear from speakers who are well-attuned to the impetus and needs of the Asian market:
1. Qian Yi, Key Account Operation Director, Tmall Global
2. Arjun Sarwal, Industry Head, eCommerce, Facebook
3. Aik Phong Ng, Managing Director, Fave
4. Roberto Longo, President, Asia Pacific, Bata
5. Dr. Wolfgang Baier, Group CEO, Luxasia
6. Christian Skaar, Director Digital, L’Oréal
7. Lorenzo Peracchione, eCommerce Director, SEA & ANZ, Sephora
8. Suzan Chen, Head of eCommerce, GC, Under Armour
9. Anil Srinivas, Senior Director Regional eCommerce, Levi Strauss & Co.
10. Enrico Baldo, Retail Director APAC, Crocs

Also joining eTail Asia, are new sponsors; Optimove (Israel HQ), a relationship management hub, that combines the art of marketing with the science of data to autonomously generate actionable insight, empowering marketers. Adjust, the mobile measurement company providing high-quality analytics, measurement and fraud prevention solutions for mobile app marketers worldwide. Appier, a technology company that helps enterprises solve their most challenging business problems through artificial intelligence. And Yieldify , whose mission is about conversion rate optimisation.

Singapore has a responsibility to lead a smart world

Gianfranco Casati, BUSINESS TIMES: ALL eyes and ears this week will be on Formula One in Singapore – it is hard to miss the fast and furious display in our city each year. But more quietly, in the background, is another event: the Milken Institute Asia Summit, a gathering of corporate, finance and political leaders to discuss the future of Asia.

The central theme is: A global transformation is underway, and Asia is at the epicentre. Market movements, political changes, emerging demographic trends from the region, our growing wealth and our leadership in embracing new technological solutions means that our decisions made in Asia on the future will impact the world.

It makes sense that the Milken Institute Asia Summit is hosted in Singapore, where our focus on developing a Smart Nation highlights that we intend to take the lead. But with potential comes great responsibility.

Put simply, Singapore has a responsibility to be smart. That calls for a need to focus on driving growth, which happens through efficiency, productivity and in wise investment in future offerings and business models. It does not happen by investing in tech for tech’s sake. It does not happen by layering on new tech to make it look like there us a shiny new product.

It means embracing digital solutions that make a difference. Consider blockchain. We have seen a lot of claims about applications of blockchain, many of which do not stand up to scrutiny. In any industry, a solution using blockchain has to solve business issues by changing the process to be successful, rather than compound them, or move them from one technology to another.

IMPROVING THE BOTTOM LINE

Here in Singapore, we designed a solution that is transformational (but perhaps not sexy enough to grab headlines so you may not have heard about it) for businesses around the world. A consortium comprising AB InBev, Accenture, APL, Kuehne + Nagel and a European customs organisation has successfully tested a blockchain solution that can eliminate the need for printed shipping documents and save the freight and logistics industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A traditional paper-based bill of lading contains 20-25 per cent inaccurate data. Our approach changes that process and greatly increases the accuracy of the information that is transferred along the value chain of an ocean-based cargo transaction because documents are no longer exchanged physically or digitally. If you eliminate the need for printed shipping documents, you can improve the bottom line.

The brain trust for this solution is sitting in Singapore. That is where we built it. We also worked with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to manage and develop a prototype using three distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms to help create a solution for interbank payments. This prototype for interbank payments is the groundwork for transforming financial services.

I am confident that we are going to continue to build new, world-changing solutions right here in our city-state that are genuinely transformational.

Sometimes, though, I fear, we do not always celebrate our leadership. I look at Changi Airport and see a digitally-savvy hub for transport that we perhaps take for granted. I look at our tax system and recognise that few places in the world rival us for streamlined efficiency, but we just consider it normal.

As the world descends on Singapore for race cars and business discussions, we should step back and take stock. We are world leaders showcasing our city. We should be proud of Singapore.

But we also have a responsibility beyond this week to carry that torch. Whether you are a university student thinking about your first job, or an employee in a multinational or a startup in one of our numerous new businesses, take a moment to reflect on what you can do to make a difference. Dream big – because you are in the right place to make change a reality

The writer is Accenture’s Singapore-based group chief executive, Growth Markets. The opinion was first published on Business Times Singapore. (Click here)

NTUC and SP Jain Join Forces for Members’ Benefit

NTUC and SP Jain School of Global Management (SP Jain) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is set to benefit NTUC members as they pursue lifelong learning.

The two-year MOU will give NTUC members special rates for the programmes at SP Jain. The MOU also includes 15 scholarships worth $6,000 each to be given each year.

The partnership with SP Jain will help NTUC members collectively save more than $100,000 per year, and will provide an additional platform for them to progress and transit in their careers.

The programmes are:

The MOU was signed by NTUC Assistant Director-General Vivek Kumar and SP Jain CEO Dr John Fong.

Mr Vivek said: “The Labour Movement has always taken the view that while jobs may become obsolete, our union members must always be given an opportunity to continuously upgrade their skills and stay relevant.”

Help to Upskill

SP Jain is not the first institute of higher learning (IHL) NTUC has partnered. Other IHLs include Singapore University of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Media Academy.

Mr Vivek said that the partnership with SP Jain caters to the diverse upskilling needs of NTUC members.

He added: “SP Jain School is one of the progressive global management institutions and is currently ranked number 16 on the Forbes Best International MBAs.”

Dr Fong said: “In today’s technologically driven society, the learning journey will never end and this has brought about a paradigm shift. We believe that continuous and deep learning is the key to staying on top of all things.

“We will also curate, design and customise short-term executive programmes that will benefit NTUC members at various stages of their careers.”

He is confident of the take-up rates and more courses could be added to the partnership in the future based on needs.

“We have already established six virtual labs in the areas of blockchain, Internet of Things, machine learning, application programming interface, cybersecurity and AR/VR [Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality]. These are cutting-edge areas that we are sure NTUC members would be interested in learning more about,” said Dr Fong.

Applications are now open for the September 2018 intake, which closes on 11 August 2018, while the March 2019 intake closes on 5 March 2019.

Knowledge Partner: SP Jain will also be a partner for NTUC’s upcoming U Future Leaders Summit 2018 with a sponsorship of $20,000. The event takes place on 4 October 2018 at The Star Theatre. SP Jain is an Australian technology-led business school with campuses in Dubai, Singapore, Sydney and Mumbai. For more information and sign-ups, visit the SP Jain website.

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Bringing International Real Estate investments to the masses

Karl Vään , CEO and Co-Founder- BitofProperty

A native of Estonia, Karl Vaan started brainstorming ideas for a real estate crowdfunding business with his co-founders Taavi and Timo in 2016. They also had input from a friend of at a venture capital company in Singapore, helping to make local connections.

After completing his bachelors from Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, he worked for a couple of years at Gunvor. a global commodities trading house. While all this while, he has been fuelling the entrepreneurial spirit in him and been constantly looking for ways to apply it.

On January 27th of 2017, Karl quit his job and stepped on a flight to Singapore to find funding for his idea. Success came to him after a persistent 4 months and about 70 meetings when Spaze Ventures, their lead investor decided to support them. The seed round came in from Japanese real estate information giant LIFULL Co. Ltd, providing its services in 57 different countries around the world.

The CEO and Co-Founder of BitofProperty, a blockchain real estate crowdfunding platform based in Singapore, Karl Vään  recalls how his journey, a crazy roller coaster, where the team was focussed on crystallizing the vision of what BitOfProperty is to become in the future.  Below are some more intercepts from his journey.

How did you come up with the idea of BitOfProperty?
The idea of BitOfProperty was born when the founders started to look for ways to invest in real estate. What they found was that real estate investing was expensive, legally difficult and finding information internationally troublesome. That’s when they started looking for ways to bring international real estate investments to the masses – starting from small amounts, providing transparent ownership structure and carrying out due diligence process for investors.

As of today we have raised pre-seed round from Spaze Ventures, a Singapore government backed startup incubator, and recently closed the seed round with a japanese lead investor LIFULL Co., Ltd., operating a real estate and housing information site with the largest property listings and one of the largest number of users; additionally focusing on new services such as CRM and DMP to support real estate agents and brokers and running a world’s largest data aggregation site, providing its services in 57 different countries around the world.

How do you go about analyzing a problem/opportunity?
As we are trying to learn from the best and use the newest methods, such as implementing the lean startup approach for problem solving and analysis. Before making any changes to the product having a clear strategy and proof of its success.

There’s no point in implementing something without proof and hoping that it will work. It’s much more efficient to take your time in the planning phase rather than confuse customers with constant back and forth changes. This makes us flexible in our operations while keeping the business on the right track.

How did you manage to fund the business?
In the beginning, we created the prototype using our own money but soon realized we needed to raise funds to really get the business off the ground. It took us about 4 months to receive funding from Spaze Ventures, a Singapore based incubator. We’ve always been diligent with our money so we keep track of each dollar spent and make sure we stick to our budget. This way we can be sure that we have enough to reach all the goals that we’ve set for ourselves.

Once we had the validation that we needed from the pre-seed round, we received interest from strategic investors internationally. Our seed round was led by a Japanese real estate information giant, who shares the same vision as we do. This was a great recognition to us, helping us to take a step closer to our common goal – an international real estate investment platform.

Tell us about your Leadership style.
As a person I am very organized and structured. I believe in information asymmetry and that ‘’team work, makes a dream work’’. When we are all together and have a chance to brainstorm then that’s when the magic starts to happen and great ideas are born. This is of course much easier to do in a small team.

Communication is key when it comes to building a startup. It’s easy to lose focus or get stuck in the ideas phase, therefore I try to spot situations like this, have a quick discussion with the team and provide immediate and honest feedback.

It’s also important to be the moral compass of sorts and remind the team about our values and long term vision so we wouldn’t stray from our path. When we all know and believe in the purpose of BitOfProperty then that makes us able to iterate faster and understand our role in the company.

What are the most desirable and demanded skills required in the real estate industry?
You have to have great local market knowledge to be able to succeed in the real estate industry.  For example, properties in the same district might have a huge price difference depending on which street the property is situated on.

In addition, you have to have great data analysis skills and a gut feeling for price fluctuations and long term profitability of the property. Like in any other investment decision, having a rational decision making mindset is crucial. It is important not to let emotions affect our business decisions as that might end up costing us a lot more than not making any deals.

Tell us about your vision for BitOfProperty and future plans to upscale.
Our vision is that BitOfProperty will become a global real estate investment platform, where investors can invest in various properties in different countries. Building up your investment portfolio with properties from Singapore, London, Tokyo, Paris etc and earning passive income from all of these. We believe this will enable our customers grow their wealth with stability and ease.

One of the near term plans for the platform is to add a secondary market where investors can sell their ownership. This helps to make real estate investments more liquid similarly to many other alternative asset classes.