For my first post on Youngsday, I wanted to take a look at the various issues that arise from building a business online. E-commerce requires a strong brand, and my tips for social media (below) aren’t just valid for APAC. M-commerce is becoming huge and something you need to be aware of, just like the fashion commerce potential in Africa. What am I talking about? Read on and see for yourself 😉
Articles are taken from my blog posts for Seedstars World, an international startup competition going to more than 30 different emerging markets and fast growing startup scenes. Winners are invited to Geneva to win an equity investment of up USD 500k. We’ve been to countries like Iran, Nigeria, and are heading to Shanghai next, so come join us on the 25th.
Social Media in Asia-Pacific is Big and Growing
APAC’s rapid growth in mobile connectivity and internet penetration is immense. It features almost a billion social media users and 3 times as many mobile users. For those that now how to use it to their advantage, it can be a veritable goldmine.
As the success of K-Pop has proven, nowadays products and their communities are global. If you’re using social media in Asia, you have the potential to reach out to a world-wide audience. To harness this, don’t focus on dividing, but uniting passions. Bond with your community over popular sports (like the FIFA World Cup), music, or TV series. Especially Twitter and Instagram posts, which are short-lived and have a faster expiration than Facebook, can be used to communicate on something other than your brand.
Fashion Startups are en vogue
Bad puns aside, fashion is a huge economic power and a great market for startups to profit from. However, it’s also an incredibly sought after market around the world, and highly dependent on its ecosystem.
Open Shop in Africa, in the mid-term
Africa is a stylish continent. Tailors and expressive prints make for a great fashion scene, and some nations like Senegal already have a reputation as fashion star. However, if you remember the points named above, you’ll see that e-commerce and thus fashion startups aren’t ready to take off just yet. This was made evident by the almost non-existent fashion startup selection we had at our Seedstars Africa events, a notable exception being Purchase African.
Do not fret though, it’s coming in the mid-term. Payment security is already being provided by startups like Simplepay, and they are working hard on ensuring the utmost security in the process. Physical delivery is an issue, with few reliable suppliers and at times even no physical addresses, but that’s changing as we speak.
M-Commerce: Be Prepared
Seedstars Asia is well underway, with only a few weeks left to explore the local startup ecosystems. We’ve discovered some interesting startups along the way, as well as the newest trends that are hitting the market.
Thailand is currently enjoying rapid growth in terms of mobile and internet connectivity. However, that isn’t translating into PCs sales, with many, especially rural users, preferring to buy a smart phone or tablet instead. E-Commerce has been quick to adapt itself to Thai and comparable markets by offering mobile responsive websites or apps, such as last minute hotel booking site HotelQuickly.
Projections have been skyrocketing for e-commerce, and m-commerce is not far behind. Goldmann Sachs has predicted that sales will skyrocket from $204 billion in 2014 to $626 billion in 2018. That makes it equal to half of the e-commerce sales today. Amazon and Ebay are supposed to benefit massively from this, along with Paypal. Aggregated market places like Etsy and Asos will also benefit from the shift. Off course, any startup that makes the move quickly is sure to profit, as m-commerce is already big in Asia and will probably spread to Africa in the mid term.