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Wongnai expanding business models, upcountry presence to boost revenue

Many Thai start ups hope to grow by going global, but the goal of Wongnai, a restaurant-review start up, is still focused on the local market.

Wongnai this year will invest in new business models and expanding upcountry. It needs to raise US$2 million (Bt70 million) in funding, which it aims to accomplish this year.

Wongnai is aiming for 2015 revenue to be 2.5 times last year’s, and to post a profit by 2017.

Wongnai is the leading restaurant-review app in Thailand with 2 million users, 500,000 reviews of 180,000 restaurants, 300,000 session visits per day and 500,000 monthly active users, but it needs to scale up these figures to meet its growth targets. Thus, it needs to move on from restaurant reviews to dominate other segments, including beauty and travel services.

The new chapter of Wongnai begins next month when it becomes an e-commerce platform or sales channel for its merchants. This is aimed at turning its traffic into transactions, while unlocking the limited current advertising-based business model to revenue sharing from each transaction.

Even though it has enjoyed strong growth in advertising revenue over the past three years, this business model is deemed insufficient for its growth targets, because it has limitations. Hence, its expansion into the transaction revenue-sharing model.

“Advertising revenue will still exist,” said Wongnai’s co-founder and chief executive officer Yod Chinsupakul. “Transaction revenue sharing is an additional revenue stream that is expected to be the main stream.”

A total of 180,000 restaurants at Wongnai could offer e-vouchers to draw the app’s users to try their services. Therefore, instead of offering a review or advertorial of the restaurant, Wongnai’s new feature will allow it to sell e-vouchers.

Next month, 50 restaurants will join “Wongnai Restaurant Week”, a marketing campaign to kick off Wongnai’s new marketplace platform.

The marketplace concept will also be implemented in “Wongnai Beauty”, the company’s application for reviews of beauty services, including salons, spas and clinics.

Under the business plan, Wongnai Beauty will be merged into Wongnai, with the former’s 6,000 merchants, 100,000 users and 10,000 reviews migrated to the main app. The merger of the two apps is expected to help the company be more focused.

In October, Wongnai will kick off a marketing campaign for its marketplace platform for the beauty-review category.

“This year our job is to strengthen our two main review categories, restaurants and beauty services, by increasing the numbers of merchants, reviews, users, visiting sessions and, importantly, transactions,” Yod said.

Another key strategic move is to expand upcountry, with the aim of having a presence in 10 provinces.

“Only two months after we expanded into¬†Chiang Mai and Chon Buri, we saw a return on investment. Having local a presence helps increase our performance both in traffic [to the app and the website] and [review] content. Our next moves this year will be to Phuket and Khon Kaen,” Yod said.

To scale up its business, including adopting the marketplace platform, going upcountry, and setting up a travel-review category, Wongnai needs the next round of fundraising to bring in $2 million before the end of this year. Yod said the money would be invested in operations, teams, marketing and branding.

The company wants to get into travel reviews, as this is a segment with high potential. However, Yod said it needed to strengthen its existing restaurant and beauty segments first. It aims to push the beauty category to generate revenue, both from advertising and transactions, from only 5-10 per cent of the company’s total revenue to around 30-35 per cent this year.

Wongnai, established in mid-2010, saw no revenue until 2012. In 2013, it received seed funding and Series A funding from Recruit Strategic Partners, a wholly owned subsidiary of Recruit in Japan. After that, Wongnai began posting at least 100-per-cent annual growth.

Yod expects revenue to jump again after the next round of fundraising along with the strategic business plans to dominate the three largest review markets, restaurant, beauty services, and travel. Thailand is big enough to accomplish its goals, with its Bt300-billion restaurant market, Bt100-billion beauty-service market and Bt500-billion travel market.

“The local market is the best destination for a review app like us. We are different from other start ups,” he said.

Full steam ahead for e-firms

Posted by pakin On July - 2 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

e-commerce giants battle to become dominant players in the local market

Local and global e-commerce giants plan to penetrate the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia, including Thailand.

Weloveshoping.com, one of Thailand’s leading online-shopping portals, will refresh its brand and shift into forward gear for the Southeast Asian market with the aim of capturing the rapid growth of e-commerce in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia and become the leader in the e-marketplace industry.

Sunsern Samaisut, chief commercial officer for e-business, said last week that the company decided to change its business model from charging rent from its online stores to charging a transaction fee ranging from 2.9-13 per cent.

“This year, we’ll strengthen our position in Thailand with the new business model. Early next year, we plan to expand to Southeast Asia through two possible models – joining hands with local partners and taking over local companies,” he said.

The e-commerce market in Thailand and Southeast Asia is not yet dominated by any player, so the company is confident in becoming the leader in these markets.

The company is set to invest Bt300 million this year on building infrastructure to support the new e-marketplace concept and on marketing to promote the platform and its merchants.

Under the new concept, Weloveshopping will offer a new merchant-management system aimed at providing an easy shopping experience covering a wide variety of products from verified merchants.

“Weloveshopping’s new image will aim primarily at achieving shoppers’ confidence and satisfaction, by offering a wide variety of products and a new system of verified merchants,” he said.

Under the new merchant-management concept called Westore, WeLoveShopping.com will select high quality merchants and provide them with a “seller business consultant” to assist in boosting their sales, which will raise the company’s revenue.

The company is shooting for 10,000 quality merchants this year, generating Bt2 billion in transactions.

Weloveshopping has appointed dedicated teams to provide content for its merchants that will make their websites more attractive to shoppers and to help merchants reach their target customers and achieve more sales.

Other teams will offer close support on ways to grab customers’ attention, such as shop design and decoration and product photos.

The company, in collaboration with TrueMoney, has adopted a new concept in the e-commerce business called the WeTrust Guarantee. The service employs an escrow system similar to that used by global e-commerce websites to manage the flow of money between merchants and shoppers.

The firm will hold onto the money paid by a shopper until it receives confirmation that the merchant’s merchandise has been delivered, then it will transfer the money to the merchant.

Using Weloveshopping’s revamped service, customers can easily track shipments and, once the ordered products have been received, they can award a “feedback score” on the merchant’s service. The scores are expected to build confidence in shopping at Weloveshopping.com, as well as to create value for merchants.

Alibaba.com enters Thailand’s

e-commerce market

Chinese online marketplace Alibaba.com has partnered with local online service provider ReadyPlanet to start up its e-marketplace business in Thailand.

Thomas Ho, country manager of Alibaba.com, said Thailand is the third country in Southeast Asia to get an authorised reseller, following Malaysia and Vietnam, which have had resellers for over five years.

Alibaba.com provides an e-commerce platform for businesses to do business. To be members, users – both buyers and sellers – need to register.

Alibaba has about 36 million registered users, of which 90 per cent are buyers and 10 per cent are sellers. The large buyers are from markets outside China like the United States, United Kingdom, Middle East and Asean, while most of the sellers are from China and Asean.

As of March, registered users in Thailand had increased 42 per cent to 570,000, mostly buyers, from the previous year. This was natural growth without a local reseller, so more growth could possibly be expected here this year.

Alibaba’s objectives in coming here are to build brand awareness and to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get the most out of e-commerce, as the crucial channel to reach out to the global market.

One mission of this partnership is to increase sellers from Thailand, but he declined to disclose the target figure.

Besides the B2B e-commerce platform, the company’s other businesses such as AliExpress and AliPay might be brought to the Thai market in the future, but it does not have a plan in the short term to do that.

At Alibaba.com, there are more than 40 product categories. For Thailand, the potential product categories are food and beverage, agricultural products, apparel and beauty products.

Users can access Alibaba’s services through alibaba.readyplanet.com and can get information about all services at thai.alibaba.com.

Thailand is “a significant

market for eBay”

eBay is paying more attention to the Thai e-commerce market, as the potential for growth is high while competition is heavy.

Ekachai Rukachantarakul, head of eBay in Southeast Asia, said Thailand is a significant market for eBay, which has been formally present here since 2009.

Ten Thai businesses have reaped over US$1 million per year by selling stuff on eBay.

The company now is focusing on encouraging Thai businesses, especially SMEs, to do e-commerce on eBay. To start, they should have at least 100 stock-keeping units of products, then they can open an online shop and list their products

The company provides them with technical and marketing customer support.

Thailand has more sellers and trading on eBay than five other countries in Asean -Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The top five markets for Thai sellers are the US, Australia, UK, Canada and Russia. The top three product categories of Thai sellers are jewellery and gemstones, auto parts and fashion, including apparel, footwear and accessories.

eBay has 25 million active sellers worldwide, of which 40 per cent are from the US.

Gross merchant volume over eBay’s platform globally in the first quarter of this year was US$20 billion (Bt674 billion).

This year, eBay will launch many more programmes to encourage SMEs to get on eBay’s platform to expand their business to the global market, he added.

Great Little Place

Posted by pakin On June - 22 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Because GLP is quite new, it is not yet practical for use in Thailand. It will come in handy should you be planning trips to cities within the UK, the US, Ireland, Canada, South Africa or Australia.

GLP allows you to search for places where you can explore local culture such as restaurants, bars and museums. Some of these places might not be mainstream, but they are nonetheless worth popping by.

The interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Upon entering the app, users choose the city they plan to visit. Users are then directed to interesting places in that city. Swipe right to add a particular destination to a shortlist. The distance and a map to the destination are provided in-app. Users can also swipe left to return to the main menu.

The app also provides basic information on places and allows you to make reservations at restaurants or bars.

The application is only available in English.

Google ‘cut Android malware half’

Posted by pakin On April - 7 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON – Google said Thursday that malware infections on Android devices have been cut in half in the past year following security upgrades for the mobile platform.

In a security review for 2014, Google said it made significant strides for the platform long seen as weak on security.

Android security engineer Adrian Ludwig said in a blog post that the overall worldwide rate of potentially harmful applications installed dropped by nearly 50 percent between the first quarter and the fourth quarter of the year.

Ludwig noted over one billion Android devices in use worldwide have security through Google Play “which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day” and that fewer than one percent of the devices had potentially harmful apps installed in 2014.

For those devices which only use Google Play apps, the rate of potentially malicious apps was less than 0.15 percent, Google said.

The report noted that Android got several security upgrades in 2014, including improved encryption and better detection tools for malware.

Android has long been seen as vulnerable to malware because it is an open platform and many devices run older versions of the mobile operating system

But Google’s report said its review “does not show any evidence of widespread exploitation of Android devices.”

“We want to ensure that Android is a safe place, and this report has helped us take a look at how we did in the past year, and what we can still improve on,” Ludwig said.

“In 2015, we have already announced that we are are being even more proactive in reviewing applications for all types of policy violations within Google Play. Outside of Google Play, we have also increased our efforts to enhance protections for specific higher-risk devices and regions.”

Android is used on around 80 percent of the smartphones globally, but its popularity has also made it a magnet for malware.

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