How WEBUY Is Driving SEA’s Group Buying Market With An App

The spirit of group buying has always lived in the culture of Singapore.

From kampung to HDB day, neighbors bundle orders for items ranging from fresh fruit, meat and even electronics, and bundle them into one-time bulk purchases.

Prices for items purchased in groups are often cheaper than retail prices on the shelves, with savings being the main reason people engage in community shopping.

With the rise of social media, group buying groups have since invaded social media platforms such as Telegram, Facebook and Instagram.

While everyone was stuck at home during the breaker, they turned to group buying to get their hands on some highly coveted products.

Think musang king or D27 durian, the famous banana cake from JB or the self-heating hotpots from Haidilao.

With that, we talk to Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY to find out how he decided to create a startup to boost the social e-commerce market in SEA.

Stimulate the craze for social shopping at S’pore

The group buying market is very lucrative in China and dominated by Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, which has Alibaba’s Taobao and rivals JD.com.

Community purchasing revenues are expected to triple to 89 billion yuan (S $ 18.1 billion) this year as of 2018, estimates global research firm Kantar Group Ltd.

China App Buying Group
The number of group buying apps in China / Image credit: The Lowdown

Market consultancy AskCI Consulting Co Ltd said more than 500 million Chinese consumers were using online group buying platforms at the end of June, nearly double the figure from two years ago .

China’s largest on-demand service platform for online deliveries, Meituan, is also part of the cake. They were testing a new group buying feature earlier this year.

Inspired by the Chinese e-commerce movement, Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of Singapore-based social e-commerce startup WEBUY, aimed to bring this concept to the F&B e-commerce scene in Asia from Southeast, where consumers in the region are influenced by influence. and the thrill of trading.

The idea came from one of my investors who is also one of the first investors in Pinduoduo and a community group buying platform in China.

– Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY

In September 2019, WEBUY launched with its first batch of group leaders.

Vincent had previously co-founded the international shopping platform ezbuy where he was director of strategy.

On why he decided to take the leap to create his own startup, the 38-year-old Singaporean said he had “always had a strong belief in social e-commerce.”

Vincent (in pink) with the WeBuy team / Image credit: WeBuy

As a result, he decided to venture into the industry to add value to what is available to a new generation of buyers.

Looking at a gap between traditional vendors and the modern consumer, the social e-commerce platform offers merchants and consumers the opportunity to find and supply new F&B items, while helping SMEs across Asia to develop their business opportunities.

Vincent Xue
Vincent Xue / Image credit: WEBUY

By December 2019, they had successfully sold 4,000 boxes of abalone in 4 hours – setting a new record for them.

Social commerce during the COVID-19 era

In February, when Covid-19 was widespread, they began importing face masks from Indonesia to support all of their group leaders.

We also launched a home delivery service to help customers get daily necessities without having to go out.

We have created a web tool to allow customers to book a collection slot with our group leaders to ensure social distancing is implemented.

We provided training and live broadcasts to help group leaders easily bring products to market.

– Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY

Food suppliers have also increased demand during Covid-19. For example, one of their suppliers, KSP Food, mainly supplied premium meats and seafood to prominent Chinese restaurants before joining the platform.

Amid the global pandemic, they pivoted their business to include everyday consumers in order to survive the lockdown, expanding their customer base.

Another example is conservation by Umamill Co. Ltd. unique and authentic Japanese products on WEBUY, which allows customers to mimic the experience of traveling through Nippon’s haphazard lanes, but from the comfort of their own home.

Image Credit: ForFunk

These flavors of Japanese prefectures are made by SMEs nationwide, with pre-orders for Mochizuki Noodle Factory Co.’s Hokkaido-style Handcrafted Ramen and Shinkinedo Co.’s popular Japanese Cream Rolls are oversubscribed.

Jumping on the annual durian festival tradition, they also successfully sold 2 tons of old Bentong durians in one day in the middle of the breaker.

Due to their popularity, they have also grown in Malaysia and Indonesia this year. Currently, WEBUY supports 3,000 group leaders and 100,000 consumers in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In October, the startup also successfully raised a US $ 6 million (S $ 8 million) Series A investment round led by Wavemaker Partners, whose funds will be used to further expand its regional footprint in SEA.

WEBUY plans to expand to Vietnam and the Philippines in 2021.

We plan to recruit a group of global venture capitalists and send them to different countries to start the business.

We plan to invest US $ 1 million in our technical team to create a better user experience for all of our customers and group leaders.

– Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY

They also signed a partnership with TikTok owner Bytedance to enhance the capabilities of the WEBUY platform for the SEA region in the first quarter of 2021.

Convince traders to integrate their platform

Image Credit: WEBUY

However, convincing the group leaders to join them from the start was quite a challenge.

The housewives feared that the WEBUY platform would take advantage of their resources, and once the business is set up, we will bypass them.

– Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY

As a result, they had to visit the group leaders from time to time and share their vision and long term plan with them.

WEBUY model
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

We showed them how our system is designed in such a way that group leaders are essential to the WEBUY platform and community. We have also hired influencers from the group leaders to work full time for us to build trust and relationship.

– Vincent Xue, co-founder and CEO of WEBUY

Since the group buying model is not at all unknown to Singaporeans, they finally managed to convince them to become group leaders.

In addition, the storage and transportation of fresh produce and fresh produce also posed challenges for a young tech startup like them, as they “had no traditional knowledge or experience.”

Vincent said the team had to visit Jurong fishing port late at night just to talk to seafood distributors in their spare time and learn how to keep and pack shrimp.

How social e-commerce drives business

As mentioned, the group buying model is not a new phenomenon for Singaporeans as they have engaged in group buying over the past decades.

Social e-commerce is driven by social interactions between friends and family.

When friends and family share stores or social commerce products, customers are more likely to trust their recommendations and make a purchase, which shortens the customer journey.

Pinduoduo used group buying promotions to entice customers looking for great deals. Customers who attracted their friends and family to buy a product would receive a steep discount as a reward. The new customer would also benefit from a reduction.

Image credit: Group buys SG

In fact, by building a relationship based on trust, it helps bring the community together and clients see group leaders more as friends than as intermediaries who put their orders together.

In addition, group purchasing offers economical pricing, constant discount notifications, and pick-up time flexibility through group leaders.

With this, group buying is expected to expand in Singapore and SEA, with consumers constantly looking for savings, especially in difficult times.

It can also be a side activity for people looking for alternative sources of income at times like this.

More people will participate in the group buying model as WEBUY drives the SEA market.

With the resulting benefits, social e-commerce is sure to grow in Singapore and SEA over the next few years.

Featured Image Credit: WEBUY

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Jothi Venkat

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