Thai ecommerce platform WearYouWant has closed over $1.5 million in Series A funding. Digital Media Partners led the round with participation from OPT SEA, IMJ Investment Partners and Julien Chalte, one of WearYouWant’s co-founders.
The rise in ecommerce is partly due to the number of people who can reliably access internet and the availability of low cost devices. Internet penetration in ASEAN is 32% and expected to rise to 48%. Furthermore, the majority of internet traffic has been coming from mobile devices.
Over 50% of Southeast Asians are willing to do all internet surfing on their phones compared to 30% worldwide.
One company benefitting from these trends is WearYouWant, a Bangkokbased ecommerce platform and online fashion marketplace with tens of thousands of highly active members. It offers online fashion shoppers a choice of 450 brands and 12,500 items, unique local brands and wellknown international brands, across a range of womens and menswear including bags, accessories and cosmetics.
The platform provides offline retailers of fashion and cosmetic items with an online storefront as well as reliable systems to handle stock, run promotions and manage customer orders; it enables retailers to reach fashion consumers who prefer the convenience of online shopping.
Cofounder Julien Chalte says: “We are not competing with offline retailers. Our platform enables offline retailers to take part in ecommerce and extend their customer reach.”
Thailand is not an easy place for foreigners to start businesses. Chalte and cofounder Martin Toft Sorensen share between them 23 years of experience in the internet industry and fashion business. However on launching the company in Bangkok, they faced challenges relating to Thailand’s lack of ecommerce infrastructure. Slowly, they established credibility and gained the trust of existing brick and mortar stores that choose to sell on their platform.
Sorensen explains: “We really had to adapt and understand the local cultures to build trusted relationships with our various partners, and understand the behaviour of our shoppers. We were the first movers in this market and we are still here, and growing fast.” Logistics has been, and continues to be, a challenge for Thailand’s ecommerce companies.
When it came to delivering items to customers, finding an adequate solution seemed nearly impossible. Sorensen said: “Only two and half years ago, our only option was the Thai postal system. We couldn’t control branding, packaging or delivery. Logistics companies here were not yet ready for ecommerce.”
Today WearYouWant works with large but local specialist logistics partners, such as CJ Korea and KWC Logistics, to manage packaging, branding, delivery and payment. Deliveries to customers are made within 25 days. However, WearYouWant is working towards next day deliveries to increase customer service. In May 2014, Alibaba made a US$250million investment in SingPost to improve online logistics in Southeast Asia. While Singpost aims to be a platform for ecommerce across Southeast Asia, WearYouWant believes fashion retailers will prefer a dedicated fashion ecommerce platform to develop their online presence.
As the ecommerce infrastructure in Thailand improves and trust increases, more and more consumers are choosing the convenience of shopping online for fashion and cosmetic items.
The trust that WearYouWant has built with its partner stores and customers has in part been strengthened by a series of key partnerships announced over the last year, including a content marketing deal with Sanook, Thailand’s largest web portal, that attracts users to their site. Other recent partnerships, with LINE and Samsung, have seen WearYouWant’s mobile marketing campaigns succeed against competition in Thailand, indicating a detailed understanding of Thai fashion consumers.
WearYouWant has had an exceptional start to 2014 with tripledigit growth rate over the last six months, and the team has recently raised USD 1.5million in a Series A round of funding led by Digital Media Partners (DMP), a venture capital firm specialising in newly emerging digital markets. The second lead investor, OPT SEA, is Japan’s leading emarketing company and focuses on contributing to the growth of internet businesses in ASEAN. Also involved in this funding round is Singaporebased venture capital firm IMJ Investment Partners and one of the WearYouWant cofounders, Julien Chalte.
Bio of founders of www.wearyouwant.com:
Julien Chalte is the cofounder, CEO and CTO. He is responsible for product development, emarketing and business administration. He has more than 13 years experience in the internet industry and has been a serial and web entrepreneur for the last 10 years. LinkedIn profile:
Martin Toft Sorensen is the cofounder, CEO and CSO. He is responsible for sales(sourcing), business development and affiliate partnerships. He has gained a strong background in the fashion business over the last 10 years.
Digital Media Partners (DMP) is a venture capital firm specialized in newly emerging digital markets and dedicated to the development of the consumer internet. Our primary investment focus is on digital business models with strong traction in one or more Southeast Asian markets and confirmed potential for regional expansion
OPT SEA: http://www.opt.ne.jp/news/pr/detail/id=2322
OPT SEA is an OPT group listed in TSE, JAPAN’s leading digital marketing company, headquartered in Singapore. Their mission is to embark on new internet business and investment activities contributing to the growth of the internet market in the ASEAN regions by leveraging the OPT group’s asset and experience.
OPT has numerous group companies outside of Japan to provide various localized internet services in each region ; US, China, Korea,Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
IMJ Investment Partners: http://imjip.com/en/
IMJ Investment Partners is a venture capital firm headquartered in Singapore. Their target investments are typically Seed or Series A round across various online and mobile industries such as ecommerce, marketplaces, comparison websites, payment platform, etc. They have currently made 8 investments in South East Asia since June 2013. Their parent company, IMJ Corporation is the largest provider of web integration service in Japan, and their portfolio companies benefit from IMJ’s domain expertise in web integration and direct development support.