“I love startups,” he says when asked about the move. “If you look at my whole career, I have always been in a company at its early stage … What I love about them is getting to meet great entrepreneurs, inspiring people with strong vision who are able to do many things. There is also greater flexibility that you cannot find in large companies.”
We proceed to talk about the company’s marketing strategy and how to win the most crucial market of all: Women.
The following is an edited excerpt of the conversation:
Just how big is Indonesia’s potential, especially for women’s shopping?
Half of the population in Southeast Asia is in Indonesia. Within 20 years, it will probably be the same size as North America. If you think about it, Indonesia is definitely 50 per cent of the whole region’s potential.
As a women’s shopping place, we are talking about US$2.4 trillion [of market value] in the region. And it is not even online, just women’s shopping in general. Though data may vary from different sources, about 0.5 per cent of retail are in e-commerce and this number can grow to 15 or 20 per cent in near future.
You can imagine how gigantic this Southeast Asian market is, and within this, Indonesia is half of it.
While this is interesting from business’ perspective, from people’s perspective it’s also exciting because it’s just like ‘drawing the future into countries of the future’. That’s how I usually call it because Indonesia is an emerging market, which has the potential to lead the region within 10-15 years. Especially since we talk about e-commerce.
Then you want to know about the challenges working in this market?
I would say that there are two sets of challenges. The first one is what everyone is already talking about: payment, logistics, Internet penetration, even human resource. But the second set, that people rarely talk about, is how do you build a breakthrough experience for the customers?
The main challenge is actually how do we get creative in this country. How you offer a model where people can feel [the] convenience to shop?
I think you can only do this when you focus on a very special demographic.
Why women? And what is the key strategy to enter this particular market?
Women are driving retail business. Women directly shop for 55 per cent of total purchases, and the number goes to 75 per cent if we include indirect shopping where the husband does the shopping. If we look at the offline world, all retailers and fashion stores in malls, they are all built for women … They are building a massive ecosystem for women.
But if we look e-commerce sites, no one [has] already built this way. There are websites like Luxola, which focus on beauty, but they never take it to a full experience. I think that’s where the opportunity is. First, because the market is massive, and, secondly, because it’s empty. No one is really there.
There is also a huge difference between how women and men shop. Sixty per cent of women name their mobile device as the most important in their life, while only 40 per cent of men do, as they prefer their TV sets.
Women also tend to look for promotions and they have a shopping list.
It is also interesting to note that 90 per cent of women find advertising on mobile intrusive. So advertising, as how it is made today, does not match with the audience. The question is how to advertise without being intrusive.
If you look at what we do in Indonesia, we actually have two verticals. One is a magazine, and one is the collection [itself].
In our magazine, we cannot afford to not advertise products, whether paid or unpaid. We try to change the ways people advertise to women in a more subtle manner.
It’s all about building an inspiring shopping ecosystem. A bit similar to a mall, but made especially for one specific target.
Does this apply to women of all ages?
We are focussing on women between 18 to 35 years old. When we speak about the ecosystem, we are speaking of an ecosystem built for this age.
What is the most notable progress that this market has experienced in the past five years?
Customers’ expectations are getting higher and higher since there are more people using and shopping on the Internet. 10 years ago, the trend was C2C, with websites like eBay. Then, for a short period, deal sites like Groupon were really popular.
Back then, it was normal to wait for two weeks for my goods to arrive. Nowadays, people are expecting you to deliver it, if possible, on the same day. This really calls for professionalisation for the companies.
Disclaimer: Moxy Asia is an Ardent portfolio company. Ardent Capital is an investor in Optimatic Pte Ltd, the parent company of e27.