The ASEAN area is one of the most dynamic in the global e-commerce arena: according to Business Insider we have a growth forecast of more than 30% per year here in 2025 in terms of market size that will reach over 17 billion dollars year from the 13 billion of 2018. We have also seen in the ASEAN special that the big players are into a fierce competition both to grab the best local digital platforms, and to enter the markets with important investments that can cut out the competitors.
In this context, there’s also space for vertical projects that could meet the demanding millennial audience. Among these is the smart move of Bob Chua who founded BlinQ, a new e-commerce platform that offers cutting-edge solutions for millennials in the luxury fashion e-commerce industry. After two successful exits and an IPO at the London Stock Exchange, Chua decided to invest in a growing market by offering innovative solutions based focused on luxury, millennials and a brand new user experience. BlinQ has already implemented a logistics model that handles the fulfillment of goods via fully automated warehousing to meet the throughput.
Here is our interview with Bob: a deep dive into South East Asia marketing.
When and why did you decide to found Blinq?
I started conceptualising BlinQ around 12 months ago, but really accelerating the sprint mode in the past 3 months or so. After 2 successful exits and an IPO from my previous ventures, I spent some time to reflect on what I believed to be the next big opportunity. The mega trends of the fast growing Asian Millenial who are extremely connected and affluent, couple by the rise in luxury consumption, as well as the tyranny of now, whereby these millenials want anything, anywhere, gave me the impetus to come up with the BlinQ model.
The ASEAN region e-commerce sales are expected to grow to 17 bln dollars this year compared to the 13 bln of 2018, an impressive market size that’s gonna double in two years more. Where do you position BlinQ and what market are you going to serve? Where’s the biggest potential in your opinion?
Actually, the stats are even more staggering when you look at the Luxury personal E-Commerce globally and in the region. Currently, the market size globally for Luxury Personal E-Commerce is a whopping $300bn, and estimated to grow to $500Bn by 2020. 44% or so currently coming from Asia (including China), however we anticipate large growth to come from Emerging markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam in the coming years.
In a market area where the big have been investing large amounts of resources in a fierce competition, what’s different in Blinq business model and the user experience that will determine your market approach?
If you look at the Alibaba’s and Amazon’s, they’ve both been largely slugging it out in India and China. Alibaba has clearly won China, with some other local giants such as JD.com etc. As for India, Amazon has doubled-down and is now competing with the Flipkart/Walmart giant. As for Luxury Fashion, the big players such as YOOK, Farfetch and ASOS are mainly concentrated on China, and hence we have found our niche for SE Asia. We will work with anyone keen to dip their toes into this region.
AI, programmatic marketing, tailor made services: what improvements and challenge are reshaping the digital fashion industry in your opinion?
I think we’re starting to see a lot of innovation in both retail and fashion. The ‘new retail’ model is only now being developed, hence no one really has a firm playbook on what this will look like, as its evolving very quickly. In a way, we’re lucky to come into the market quite late, and have taken the best of breed models of a Farfetch + Rent The Runway + The Real Real to leapfrog an entire new model of Luxury retail commerce in one of the most vibrant regions in the world at this time. It’s extremely exciting.
Three startups or services that are going to make the difference in the ASEAN e-commerce, according to your experience.
I believe there’s still a lot of upside for E-Commerce start-ups and marketplaces in the region. Currently, a few giants dominate for sure, however only 5%-7% of retail is conducted online. There is huge upside. Other forms of ecosystem players in the logistics and fulfillment spaces will also be very interesting.