Nurturing an SME digital ecosystem

09:00 | 30/12/2019

By 2025, Vietnam could become Southeast Asia’s third-largest e-commerce market. The e-commerce market in Vietnam has ample space for development. In the context of digital transformation, e-commerce businesses should develop a comprehensive ecosystem to seize the reins. James Dong, CEO of Lazada for Vietnam and Thailand, shared with VIR’s Nguyen Huong about how leading e-commerce platforms like Lazada can help build a sustainable ecosystem that will help SMEs capture e-commerce opportunities.

nurturing an sme digital ecosystem
James Dong, CEO of Lazada for Vietnam and Thailand

What is your assessment of the startup ecosystem in the Vietnamese market, especially in terms of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and logistics companies?

The Vietnamese economy is booming and is one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. Driving this economy are SMEs, so helping them to grow and scale is important in building a sustainable startup ecosystem.

The economic growth is also the result of a young and dynamic population that creates demand for products, benefiting the SMEs and startups that have arisen to cater to the demand. In addition, a young and dynamic population offers a ready pool of talent that are hungry, creative and more than willing to innovate and try new ideas.

The key to building the SME and startup infrastructure here is partnerships, especially between governments and ecosystem players like us. I believe that increased collaborations between public and private entities can be very fruitful for startups.

How can platforms like Lazada help local SMEs to do business and grow?

Our vision is to power real, profitable SMEs across Southeast Asia and create millions of jobs in the e-commerce ecosystem. Across the region, we’ve seen 142 per cent growth in the number of daily active stores and 97 per cent growth in amount of stores with over $10,000 in monthly sales.

We help local SMEs grow and scale in three key ways: First, we help remove barriers to entry by providing them access to our leading ecosystem that comprises of innovative technology, logistics, and payment offerings.

With these innovations and the efficiency of our platform, businesses do not need to undertake the time-consuming process of designing a product, coordinating with stakeholders to manufacture and sell it, then get feedback from customers to make further adjustments to the product. Instead, they can quickly set up a store of any size, conduct pre-sales, and based on the orders, determine production volume and amount. They also received feedback in the form of customer reviews in a timelier manner, which helps them to be more competitive in their offerings. Lazada’s technology enables an efficient, transparent and fair system.

Second, we enable SMEs to learn and grow together. We equip them with knowledge and practical experience through training sessions, seller conferences, and mega campaigns. We also provide them access to sales mechanics such as flash sales and live streaming, so they can engage their customers in more creative ways that can help them boost sales.

Last but not least, we are looking to help local SMEs in their fundraising efforts in the coming year. We are working with our partners to explore programmes that can support our sellers in this aspect.

nurturing an sme digital ecosystem
Lazada Vietnam is implementing numerous practical activities in order to support small- and medium-sized enterprises

Can you share some examples of the work carried out by your platforms so far?

Some of our most successful sellers started out as small businesses. A good example is Julyhouse, which joined our platform three years ago to sell natural oil products. After a year, they were able to build recognition for their brand and started offering premium quality products and services. They then further evolved into a service provider for our platform by sharing their experience and training other SMEs.

Julyhouse is a good example of how the ecosystem can transform SMEs into more than just sellers on a platform. With our marketing solutions, data analytics, logistics invoice services, we enable SMEs and local startup to thrive.

What is your upcoming initiative to support local SMEs?

As mentioned, we are exploring programmes that can help SMEs in their fundraising efforts, as well as continue to support them in our campaigns and everyday business, from onboarding them to equipping and training them.

Lazada has been operating in Vietnam for almost eight years. We were the first e-commerce platform in the country, and we are very dedicated to helping local SMEs fulfill their ambitions by building a sustainable e-commerce ecosystem.

About Lazada

Founded in 2012, Lazada Group is Southeast Asia’s leading e-commerce platform. With a presence in six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – Lazada connects the vast and diverse region through its technology, logistics, and payments capabilities. Today, Lazada has the largest selection of brands and sellers and by 2030 aims to serve 300 million customers. In 2016, Lazada became the regional flagship of Alibaba Group, and is backed by Alibaba’s best-in-class technology infrastructure.

For more information, please download the Lazada App or access the Lazada website:

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