ShopBack Co-Founder Joel Leong Eyes Strong Growth In Asia As COVID-19 Fuels E-Commerce Boom

This Covid-19 pandemic has brought about much economic uncertainty, which results in many shoppers reining in their spending during this difficult time.
If they have to spend, they are now sussing out cost savings more than ever before to get more bang for their buck.
This is why Singapore-based cashback rewards startup ShopBack has been seeing a boom in the usage of its platform with its nifty rewards and deals.
In this interview, we spoke to Joel Leong, co-founder of ShopBack, to understand how this five-year startup has been a lifesaver for shoppers and driving growth despite the Covid-19 crisis.
According to Joel, ShopBack has seen a clear growth in categories such as grocery delivery, food delivery, health supplements, lifestyle products, fitness, VPN services as consumer shopping behaviour shifts online.
“We have seen a surge in demand for products in categories like fitness and electronics, both of which saw around 4x increase in orders comparing data from January 2020 and April 2020.”
Some examples include sportswear brand Adidas, electronics retailer Challenger, household appliance brand Dyson, audio equipment brand JBL, and premium coffee machine brand Nespresso.
Comparing data from January to April year-on-year, they saw a 9x increase in orders for Adidas, while Challenger and JBL and Nespresso saw increase in orders between 6x and 11x, and Nespresso saw a whopping 43x increase in orders.
Orders in the internet services category — including top brands like NordVPN, Udemy and Symantec — increased by around 70x during the same period.
Conversely, they have seen a large decline in sales of flight and hotel bookings and travel experiences, as consumers are forced to stay at home to flatten the curve.
As lockdown and quarantine measures ease up across Asia Pacific, Joel said that they are noticing “visible green shoots in travel-related categories”.
For instance, domestic flights and staycation bookings have started to pick up in markets like Taiwan and Australia, which have started to relax travel restrictions.
They are also expecting local consumers to seek out staycations to quench their wanderlust, in lieu of overseas travel.
After all, staycations have been dubbed as Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes, said Joel.
Besides forcing consumers to stay at home, the pandemic has also forced businesses to fast-track the long-talked-about digital revolution virtually overnight.
On a regional level, over 500 brands have joined the platform including Etsy and GoDaddy year-to-date.
“In Singapore, we have added close to 100 brands to our roster of merchants since April.”
For instance, they recently onboarded liquor store Temple Cellars onto ShopBack in Singapore to cater to the trend of alcohol delivery.
With the increase in demand for internet services (such as VPNs and anti-virus software), they have recently brought on brands like PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Webhostingpad.com.
“At the same time, these businesses are more mindful of how they are spending their marketing dollars.
“In my previous job, I saw how expensive marketing could be. Traditionally, a brand pays a hefty fee upfront for ad space independent of the performance or outcome. Brands can also pay for impressions, eyeballs, or clicks via other marketing channels, which may not lead to actual sales.”
Apparently, ShopBack only charges its merchant partners commission after it has delivered a successful sale to them, and incur no additional costs for cancelled or unfulfilled orders.
This is a very attractive feature for merchants when they are considering to go onboard ShopBack.
In return, ShopBack gives part of the commissions they earn back to the user as cashback.
To generate more revenue and cashback, the firm launched ShopBack GO for the Singapore market — the app equivalent of ShopBack — in December 2018.
With staying at home sparking a sharp increase in online shopping, ShopBack noticed an overwhelming response towards flash sales.
For instance, ShopBack Australia recently ran a successful second birthday campaign in April — this is the first time the Australian team ran an all-digital campaign.
They had noticed that the landscape had changed drastically as people are staying at home and practicing safe social distancing, resulting in them engaging with brands and content differently.
With this in mind, they creatively decided to pivot their strategy to run an online-only campaign, so that they are still able to engage, entertain, and connect with their audience even while being confined to their homes.
As a result, they saw a 10x increase in orders week-on-week for top performing brands and awarded users over AU$600,000 in cashback — a massive feat for the team.
With the growing demand for stay-home items, ShopBack continues to run flash sales in other countries including Singapore with several merchant partners including Dyson, Lenovo, NordVPN, and Razer.
This has boosted orders by around 10x, said Joel.
Following its massive success in Singapore and Australia, ShopBack is setting its sights beyond these two countries.
On ShopBack’s immediate plans beyond COVID-19, Joel said that they will continue to grow their existing markets as well as new markets.
ShopBack had entered Korea in April this year, through the acquisition of Ebates Korea, the nation’s largest online cashback platform.
“We are planning to grow and scale ShopBack in our newer markets — Vietnam and Korea — where we are preparing for the official launch.”
Featured Image Credit: ShopBack
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