Weekly Focus APAC: Harvey Norman Goes 'Synchronised' Shopping with Microsoft

In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: Harvey Norman Goes ‘Synchronised’ Shopping with Microsoft; JD.com Partners Agility to Ease Product Access; eBay Eyes Wider China Footprint; NETS & ComfortDelGro Unveil In-App Payment Option; Alibaba Clocks 40% Growth in Commerce Revenue; and Amazon Reportedly Investing £490.4m in Indian Businesses.

Harvey Norman Goes ‘Synchronised’ Shopping with Microsoft

Electronics retail chain Harvey Norman is piloting an application in Singapore that melds online and offline features to offer an “immersive and engaging” shopping experience.

Delivered through Microsoft’s Synchronised Shopping software, the new service taps artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse customers’ responses to a series of questions and recommend devices that meet their specific requirements, such as storage capacity and battery life. This AI-powered product advisor is accessible on Harvey Norman’s website.

Its recommendations feature products that are available on the retail chain’s display shelves, enabling customers to try them out in-store. A “shopper pass” then is created on the shopper’s mobile device, with geolocation capabilities, so a notification is triggered when the customer is within the proximity of an outlet where the devices are available.

When they enter the store, shoppers are guided to the location at which the recommended devices are displayed.

“This simplifies the in-store experience, eliminating the need for shoppers to spend time navigating through all the choices in [product category] aisle,” Harvey Norman and Microsoft said in a joint statement. “It provides a seamless online-offline purchase journey tailored to their needs, which is highly secure and with no footprint of the user on any of the interacting devices.”

The new service currently is being trialled at Harvey Norman’s flagship store in Millenia Walk.

The retail chain’s CEO Katie Page said: “Customers must be able to make decisions holistically, especially in a digitally connected world. This has always guided how we curate our assortment of offerings and it now shapes how we look at connecting online and offline channels seamlessly for our customers.”

JD.com Partners Agility to Ease Product Access

The Chinese e-commerce giant’s logistics business unit, JD Logistics, has inked a partnership with global logistics services provider Agility, to ease consumer access to products offered on JD’s platforms.

The partnership also includes Agility’s digital arm, Shipa, and focuses on cross-border logistics, procurement, and retail, covering markets in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

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For instance, in Southeast Asia, Agility would the cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) trunk service provider and local business-to-business (B2B) warehouse provider.

It also would be JD’s main logistics service provider in the Middle East and Africa, handling terminal customs clearance and delivery services for its B2C platforms. The partners also would collaborate in retail and procurement by promoting products produced or assembled in these two regions to Chinese sourcing merchants. This aimed to establish more sales channels for Chinese merchants.

While Agility would help boost JD’s global supply chain, the Chinese vendor would tap its own logistics network and industry expertise to help Agility and its partners expand their footprint in China as well as improve their overall operations efficiency.

JD Logistics’ CEO Wang Zhenhui said: “JD Logistics has developed advanced supply chain systems, technology, and operations, and has extensive supply chain and logistics management experience. By partnering with Agility, we will provide customers with a variety of transportation services for ocean, land, air, and rail transportation, helping us design the optimal logistics solution to reduce costs and increase efficiency for customers.”

eBay Eyes Wider China Footprint

eBay has inked a partnership with the commission of commerce of Huangpu District, Shanghai, to promote cross-border e-commerce.

Under the partnership agreement, both companies would jointly build a financial service platform, logistics centre, and product exhibition centre as part of efforts to fuel cross-border e-commerce.

eBay’s greater China headquarters is located in Huangpu, where the district commission of commerce had agreed to establish a talent training base and centres for innovation, entrepreneurship, and research.

According to the e-commerce provider, Shanghai sellers currently peddle their products on eBay to more than 70 countries.

NETS & ComfortDelGro Unveil In-App Payment Option

Singapore mobile consumers now can use their NETS bank cards to pay for services via their smartphones, enabling them for the first time to store and use these payment details as an in-app payment platform.

Called NETS Click, the new payment service was launched alongside participating merchant ComfortDelGro Taxi. The integration would allow passengers to pay for their taxi bookings and street hail trips via the ComfortDelGro booking app.

To tap the new payment option, ComfortDelGro passengers would have to add their NETS bank card details to the taxi booking app and authenticate their identity with a one-time password, which would be sent to their mobile number. They then would be able to select NETS Click as the in-app payment option for their taxi bookings or street hail, the latter of which passengers would have to scan the QR code on the taxi’s cashless payment terminal or key in the taxi number to complete the transaction.

NETS, or Network for Electronic Transfers of Singapore, is the provider of a national digital payment service that is supported by three local banks–DBS, OCBC, and UOB.

NETS said it would “soon” partner online merchants to extend the availability of NETS Click as an in-app payment option.

Alibaba Clocks 40% Growth in Commerce Revenue

The Chinese e-commerce giant has clocked a 40% year-on-year revenue growth for its core commerce, which hit ¥101.2bn (£11.11bn) for the quarter ended September 30, 2019.

This figure accounted for 85% of Alibaba Group’s total revenue for the quarter, which grew 40% to ¥119.02bn (£13.06bn).

Annual active users on its local marketplaces climbed to 693 million for the quarter, up from 674 million in June. Mobile monthly active users hit 785 million, up 30 million from June 2019.

Its Southeast Asian e-commerce subsidiary Lazada, also saw orders grow more than 100% year-on-year, while its international brand AliExpress boasted more than 80 million annual active consumers from 200 markets for the quarter.

Amazon Reportedly Investing £490.4m in Indian Businesses

The US e-commerce giant is reportedly investing 44.72bn rupees (£490.4m) in three of its businesses in India, namely, Amazon Retail, Amazon Sellers, and Amazon Pay.

The bulk of this would go towards Amazon Seller Services, according to Paper.vc, citing a filing. The business unit supported the vendor’s marketplace platform.

The next largest funding portion would be poured into Amazon Pay, while the remaining would go towards Amazon’s Indian food business, Amazon Retail, which was expected to encompass its own brand label and grocery supply chain.