Weekly Focus APAC: AliExpress Opens Marketplace to Foreign Brands at 11.11 This Year

In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: AliExpress Opens Marketplace to Foreign Brands at 11.11 This Year; Tokopedia Partnership Gives Indonesians Online Access to Healthcare Products; and Flipkart Unveils Assistive Interface for New E-commerce Users.

AliExpress Opens Marketplace to Foreign Brands at 11.11 This Year

Alibaba’s international retail marketplace let foreign sellers participate in its 11.11 Shopping Festival for the first time this year, pushing sales to record numbers.

According to the Chinese e-commerce operator, transactions for the first 13 minutes surpassed total amount generated in the first hour at last year’s event. By the 19th hour, it had exceeded the overall figure transacted over the two-day shopping festival last year.

The event attracted buyers from more than 200 countries and regions this year, said AliExpress.

Overseas brands also participated in 11.11 for the first time, with sellers from markets such as Russia, Spain, Italy, and Turkey selling their products to 127 countries and regions, it said. Italian retail brand SUIE, for instance, saw its daily sales climb by 125 times, with 60% of sales originating from Russia.

Turkish footwear brand also clocked transaction volumes in the first 24 hours that were 25 times higher than its average daily sales, said AliExpress.

Russia, Spain, the US, France, and Poland were amongst the top spending markets, and the most popular product categories amongst global shoppers included cellphones and telecommunications, consumer electronics, home and garden, and automobiles and motorcycles.

AliExpress’ general manager Wang Mingqiang said it aimed to include more international sellers on its platform so consumers would have an improved experience and wider product options.

To ease the process for merchants and consumers, the online marketplace said it teamed up with Alibaba’s logistics business Cainiao and financial services arm Ant Financial to collaborate with international as well as local logistics and payment providers.

The two Alibaba subsidiaries, for instance, tied up with Turkish Post to introduce a dedicated Turkey-Russia service that cut delivery time from 35 days to 10 days.

AliExpress also brought in more than 3,500 key online influencers and bloggers from Russia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Poland, South Korea, and the Middle East to market brands and products via their social media accounts. This provided retailers a potential reach of more than 100 million followers with the online influencers’ network.

The e-commerce platform also hosted more than 1,000 live streams to offer a richer shopping experience to consumers, it said.

Tokopedia Partnership Gives Indonesians Online Access to Healthcare Products

Indonesian e-commerce operator Tokopedia has formed a partnership with GoApotik to enable its users to access medicine and health equipment, including prescription drugs, via its online platform.

They would be able to upload their doctor’s prescription on the Tokopedia website or mobile app through a chat function. The script would be checked and verified by a GoApotik pharmacy partner, which then would prepare the medication as stated in the prescription. The drug would be delivered to the consumer by one of Tokopedia’s logistics partners.

An online pharmacy aggregator platform, GoApotik is a Pharmaceutical Electronic Facilities Provider and lists pharmacies that are licensed and approved in Indonesia.

Tokopedia said the partnership aimed to provide safe and reliable access to healthcare services as well as support small pharmacy businesses in the country.

Its assistant vice president of business Jessica Stephanie Jap said there was significant need for medicines and healthcare products on the online platform. Citing internal figures, Jap said the number of transactions in the healthcare category had climbed more than 200% in the quarter ended September.

This growth had driven the need to establish the partnership. She noted that the collaboration would create opportunities for small and midsize businesses as well as provide consumers the ability to safely access medication and health products on the Tokopedia platform.

GoApotik’s head Mohamad Salahuddin added that the partnership would help put access to legitimate and licensed drugs on the e-commerce platform, and drive the role of local pharmacists in the digital age.

Flipkart Unveils Assistive Interface for New E-commerce Users

The Indian e-commerce marketplace has introduced its Smart Assistive Interface function, which it says aims to help new users navigate the online platform and improve their overall shopping experience.

Called Flipkart Saathi, the new feature comprises an audio-guided navigation function and currently is available in Hindi and English. The tool is part of Flipkart’s efforts to “humanise” e-commerce.

The company said it hoped the new feature would empower consumers in tier 2 and 3 cities as well as rural India and help bring the country’s next 200 million consumers online.

The assistive interface tool was designed to emulate a typical shopping experience for consumers who are assisted by a salesperson. It used a combination of text and audio-based instructions to guide new shoppers in their e-commerce journey, including a list of key actions that would be highlighted as pop-up texts, followed by audio to further assist the shoppers

Flipkart said: “As audio is simple to follow and offers relatability, consumers can follow the instructions in a more immersive manner.”

The e-commerce operator said it had carried out research for almost a year, engaging consumers who had yet to transact online as well as infrequent online shoppers in tier-2 cities, to ascertain how assistive interfaces would resonate with shoppers.

This study revealed that new shoppers required assistance in filtering options and choosing brands or variants. Flipkart added that it tested early concepts and assessed user reaction to the interface.

It said the new tool would support other regional languages available in the coming months.

Flipkart’s chief product offier and CTO Jeyandran Venugopal said: “When solved well, language becomes more of a convenience than a barrier. This [Smart Assistive Interface] initiative will further make it easier for consumers especially in tier-2 cities and beyond to access and enjoy an online shopping experience.

“Through the combination of cutting-edge tech with our robust understanding of the diverse consumer base in India, the Flipkart team has created an offering to simplify e-commerce. It
will bring us closer to our goal of democratising e-commerce, bringing inclusivity, and onboarding the next set of consumers,” said Venugopal.

Flipkart currently has more than 200 million registered customers, and offers 150 million products across more than 80 categories on its online marketplace.