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E-commerce Enablers: The Trump Card For Online Success

E-commerce Enablers: The Trump Card For Online Success

An e-commerce enabler is a provider of one-stop solutions for e-commerce businesses. It offers a wide range of services such as digital marketing, customer support, order fulfillment, logistics and many more. If you’re looking to build an online brand, an e-commerce enabler could be your trump card for success. Read on to learn more!
Written and published by
Brian Tsang

Each individual only has 24 hours a day. Successful people find ways to maximize productivity and make the most of their time. That’s how they become the cream of the crop.

Likewise, your company only has so much manpower and resources to deploy. Use them wisely.

To this end, e-commerce enablers could be a cost-effective solution to help you achieve more with the same amount of resources. If you’re looking to build an online brand, an e-commerce enabler could be your trump card for success.

Read on to learn more!

  • What is an e-commerce enabler?
  • What does an e-commerce enabler do?
  • Half of the industry doesn’t know: What an e-commerce enabler is not
  • Food for thought: Why do you need an e-commerce enabler?
  • Major players you mustn't miss: Top e-commerce enabler companies
  • Some last words

What is an e-commerce enabler?

An e-commerce enabler is a provider of one-stop solutions for e-commerce businesses. It offers a wide range of services such as digital marketing, customer support, order fulfillment, logistics and many more.

A common reason for engaging the services of an e-commerce enabler is to externalize the value chain of a business. By outsourcing the essential yet non-core business operations, you can better allocate your company’s resources to growing your business.

What does an e-commerce enabler do?

An e-commerce enabler takes care of most operational activities along your value chain, so that you can focus your mind on business growth.

Here is what e-commerce enablers do in more specific terms.

1. Online store management

Very often, performing the routines for your online store doesn’t require the cleverest minds, but it most certainly is a time-consuming and resource-intensive activity.

An e-commerce enabler takes things off the plate, so you can focus your human resources on what really creates value for your business.

More specifically, an e-commerce enabler manages your storefronts on marketplaces, social platforms and sometimes your own website or mobile app.

The services of e-commerce enablers usually cover the following, but may vary depending on the company you work with:

  • Automated product listing
  • Pricing strategy
  • Order management
  • Web or app development

2. Digital marketing

It is no secret that digital marketing improves a brand’s online visibility, helps attract customers and generates revenue.

Social media and SEO (search engine optimization) are companies’ top choices to gear up their online growth, and e-commerce enablers can help.

Source: Not Another State of Marketing Report, HubSpot (2021)

With qualified professionals in their teams, e-commerce enablers devise integrated marketing strategies tailored for your company, supercharging your business growth and helping you stay on top of competition.

Below are some examples of services provided by e-commerce enablers:

  • Paid advertising
  • Online promotion
  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization

3. Supply chain management

The e-commerce supply chain is tricky to handle, to say the least.

From inbound logistics to inventory management and outbound logistics, the process of supply chain management requires considerable expertise.

E-commerce logistics process

E-commerce enablers are where you can find experts to take care of the e-commerce logistics process. They provide services such as:

4. Customer support

The importance of customer support cannot be overstated. A vast majority (90%) of consumers find it an important consideration in deciding whether to stick with a brand, Microsoft reported.

As your business scales, the volume of customer enquiries is bound to increase accordingly.  

Juggling customer service and business growth could be difficult, which is why e-commerce enablers are here to help.

Many e-commerce enablers have local teams of customer success specialists that speak the language of your audience.

By handing over customer-facing communications to a trustworthy partner, you can comfortably handle a large quantity of enquiries without sacrificing quality.

→ Quick summary: An e-commerce enabler facilitates your online retail efforts on marketplaces and other sales channels with their comprehensive suite of services, including:

  1. Online store management
  2. Digital marketing
  3. Supply chain management
  4. Customer support

Note: As the e-commerce industry is constantly evolving, the breadth and depth of e-commerce enablers' services are also expanding.

While we anticipate more innovative solutions to tackle the pain points of digital merchants, the above are four major categories of services that e-commerce enablers currently provide.

Half of the industry doesn’t know: What an e-commerce enabler is not

If you think you already know what an e-commerce enabler is (or what it is not), it’s time to test your knowledge.

In a survey conducted by EcommerceIQ, 61.1% of respondents indicated that they had used an e-commerce enabler for their online businesses.

However, from the responses given in the survey, the pollster found that most respondents couldn’t distinguish between an e-commerce enabler and a marketplace.

The chart below is an overview of the roles that a marketplace, an e-commerce enabler and other third-party vendors play in a business’s value chain:

1. For starters, a marketplace isn’t an e-commerce enabler.

A marketplace is a platform on which you sell your products or services.

Examples of marketplaces include Amazon in the West, Shopee, Lazada and Tokopedia in Southeast Asia.  There are also Taobao, Tmall and JD.com, which have a focus on the mainland Chinese market.

Although marketplaces open up new sales channels for you, and allow transactions to take place online, they are merely platforms that connect you, the supplier, to buyers.

They certainly don’t take care of your business operations from start to finish, like e-commerce enablers do.

2. An e-commerce platform on its own isn’t an e-commerce enabler.

E-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and Shopline provide the digital infrastructure for you to set up an online shop.

Admin panel of Shopify where users can easily add products to their e-store
Source:
Shopify

While e-commerce platforms are helpful to get your online store up and running, most of them don’t provide day-to-day operational support for your business which e-commerce enablers do.

3. A marketing platform is a tool, not an e-commerce enabler.

There are plenty of marketing platforms that help you centralize and analyze data, and automate your marketing tasks.

You may use MailChimp to send EDMs (electronic direct mails), Ahrefs to inform your SEO strategy or HubSpot to manage the sales, customer relationship and some other aspects of your business.

Source: TemplateToaster

But these are just tools and software that help your marketer perform better at his job — by automating repetitive tasks and providing data analytics for further insights. These tools don’t do the marketer’s job.

4. A payment gateway processes payments. It certainly isn’t an e-commerce enabler.

A payment gateway is the virtual equivalent of a debit or credit card reader. When integrated with your online store, it processes payments from your customers.

There are many payment gateways for digital merchants, popular ones being PayPal, Stripe and Square. However, they only solve your payment needs and are vastly different from e-commerce enablers.

5. A third-party logistics provider isn’t an e-commerce enabler.

Third-party logistics (3PL) companies provide a suite of services related to e-commerce logistics and order fulfillment, commonly covering aspects such as warehousing, product picking and packing as well as return processing.

Recall our earlier discussion that e-commerce enablers provide end-to-end services in relation to an online business’s activities along the value chain.

Though 3PL companies take care of the inbound and outbound logistics parts of your value chain, operations, marketing and services are the aspects that they cannot cover. They are third-party logistics companies, after all.

The business value chain
Source:
Harvard Business School

6. A third-party carrier isn’t an e-commerce enabler either.

DHL, UPS, FedEx and SF Express are what we call third-party carriers.

Many e-commerce businesses engage carriers to provide last-mile delivery services. This speaks pretty much of what carriers do — carrying goods to your customers’ doorsteps, but nothing more.

→ Quick summary: Many people think they understand the concept of an e-commerce enabler when they actually don’t. Below are some third-party vendors commonly mistaken for e-commerce enablers.

  1. Marketplaces
  2. E-commerce platforms
  3. Marketing platforms
  4. Payment gateways
  5. Third-party logistics providers
  6. Third-party carriers

Food for thought: Why do you need an e-commerce enabler?

With their cutting-edge technology and industry expertise, e-commerce enablers help you get things done with less time and resources from your company.

Most importantly, e-commerce enablers can do what you can’t do.

Here is what you can gain by working with an e-commerce enabler.

1. A niche team of e-commerce experts

When it comes to hiring, the visionary Steve Jobs once told leaders to go after “the cream of the cream”.

“A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players,” he said.

The importance of having capable workers is unquestionable, but whether you can attract and retain the right talent is another matter.

In a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, a whopping 82% of Fortune 500 executives admitted that they hadn’t hired highly talented people.

Source: McKinsey & Company

This is a pain point that e-commerce enablers can solve.

E-commerce enabler companies have a niche but professional team of e-commerce experts, spanning different functions such as operations, marketing, logistics and customer support.

As you delegate your online store operations to an e-commerce enabler, you’re also parting with problems associated with talent acquisition.

With e-commerce enablers in the scene, you no longer have to fight to hire champion candidates in the market, or worry about employee turnover. All you need to do is find a partner company whom you can trust.

2. Proprietary tech solutions

E-commerce enabler companies invest millions of dollars in developing powerful toolkits for online businesses to accelerate their growth. While these tools and software are easy to use, they are by no means cheap or easy to develop.

For example, Intrepid Group has its own tech platform that allows brands to manage their storefronts across multiple marketplaces (such as Lazada and Shopee) on one single platform.

Another e-commerce enabler, Azoya from China has a different focus. Its proprietary software helps e-commerce incumbents launch mini-programs on WeChat, the all-in-one Chinese social and messaging app.

It is with Azoya’s turnkey solution that Sephora, the world-leading beauty retailer rolled out its WeChat mini-program store in just 90 days, quickly tapping into a network of some 1.2 billion active users through the mobile app.

How Sephora connects to billions of users through its WeChat mini-program store
Source:
Azoya

The above-mentioned capabilities of e-commerce enablers were neither developed nor acquired overnight. Intrepid Group is backed by some $11 million of funding, whereas Azoya has had almost a decade of experience in innovative technology.

That kind of know-how and technology is not something that an ordinary e-commerce company can develop overnight. In fact, even the most prominent industry players may not have the internal capability to achieve so.

This is why e-commerce enablers are so valuable. When you work with an e-commerce enabler, what they own will become yours to use.

3. More time and resources for business growth

E-commerce enablers provide near 360-degree support to your business. Their job is to help your business grow, scale and thrive in the e-commerce realm.

They share the load on your online business operations, devise an integrated digital strategy for your brand and provide tool sets for automation and analytics.

Having an e-commerce enabler is like having a versatile growth partner by your side. By externalizing your e-commerce value chain, you can spend less company resources on non-critical matters, and put an absolute focus on core activities that produce results.

Looking to take your business to the next level? Choco Up is here to help!

As the leading revenue-based financing and growth platform in Asia, we offer funding ranging from US$10K to $10M to companies of all sizes. With our quick and flexible funding, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses fuel their growth and accomplish remarkable results.

To learn more about how Choco Up can help your business grow, check out our client success stories or claim your FREE preliminary offer now!

Major players you mustn't miss: Top e-commerce enabler companies

No article on e-commerce enablers is complete without mention of the major players in this space.

Now that we’ve made clear what an e-commerce enabler is and isn’t, as well as the benefits of working with an e-commerce enabler it’s time to size up some real options.

Below is a list of 10 promising e-commerce enabler companies in Southeast Asia:

1. aCommerce

As an e-commerce enabler, aCommerce provides a comprehensive range of services for online businesses, including brand management, store operations, digital marketing, fulfillment and customer support.

Established in 2013, the Thailand-based e-commerce enabler is one with a strong track record. The company is said to have onboarded global clients such as Microsoft, Adidas, Samsung, and Unilever.

2. Azoya

Azoya’s headquarters are located in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China.

Azoya positions itself as an e-commerce enabler and growth partner for brands aspiring to enter the Chinese market, with state-of-the-art technology to bolster the digital commerce operations of its clients.

3. Etaily

Etaily is a venture-backed startup company based in the Philippines. It offers a range of services for businesses with different e-commerce models, covering brands that sell on marketplaces, social platforms and D2C.

4. Fung Omni

As a subsidiary of the Fung Group, a Hong Kong-based supply chain management company, Fung Omni certainly has a head start on the e-commerce logistics race.

In addition to supply chain management services, the e-commerce enabler is also committed to helping multinational brands launch their e-commerce business on marketplaces across Asia with its technological and operational support.

5. GOCommerce

GOCommerce was founded in the Philippines in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic by a team of veterans from the consumer electronics industry.

Its aim is to help businesses build an omnichannel strategy, accelerate digital transformation and boost competitiveness.

6. Intrepid

Intrepid Group, a Singapore-based e-commerce enabler, was built by ex-Lazada co-founders and executives in 2017.

It is dedicated to helping brands and enterprises accelerate their growth on e-commerce marketplaces across Southeast Asia, such as Lazada and Shopee.

7. Jet Commerce

Headquartered in Indonesia, Jet Commerce has its eye on some of the fastest-growing markets in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Similar to its peers, Jet Commerce provides end-to-end solutions for online brands, including operations, marketing, customer service and e-commerce fulfillment.

8. LEAP Commerce

The newly established e-commerce enabler is a subsidiary of LUXASIA, a beauty distribution platform in Asia Pacific.

LEAP Commerce currently has a focus on fashion, FMCG and beauty & toys. Moving forward, the company will be extending its reach into electronics, mother & baby and niche fashion.

9. OnPoint

Built by former C-level executives at Lazada as well as members from other e-commerce firms, OnPoint is a Vietnamese startup company with a strong founding team.

As an e-commerce enabler, OnPoint will not only help brands sell on marketplaces and social platforms, but also offers the option of helping brands manage their online stores. It also provides strategic support in terms of digital marketing and commercial management.

10. Vinculum Group

Vinculum was founded in India in 2007, making it one of the first e-commerce enablers in the world.

With 10+ years of experience in this space, it boasts an extensive suite of SaaS solutions that enables online retailers to scale and reach customers across channels globally.

→ Quick summary: This section rounds up a list of 10 up-and-coming e-commerce enablers in Southeast Asia, covering the following:

  1. aCommerce
  2. Azoya
  3. Etaily
  4. Fung Omni
  5. GOCommerce
  6. Intrepid
  7. Jet Commerce
  8. LEAP Commerce
  9. OnPoint
  10. Vinculum Group

Note: The e-commerce landscape is ever-changing, and new players enter the scene every day.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of e-commerce enablers, but it would surely give you a glimpse into the industry as well as major players running the show.

Some last words

For companies that started in the offline realm, the lack of digital know-how sometimes poses a roadblock on their path to digital transformation, hence an obstacle to expanding their business empire.

In these cases, e-commerce enablers are the perfect candidates to lend a helping hand. That being said, e-commerce enablers aren’t a cure-all to every business problem. Inaccessibility of business funding is one such example.

As banks are too risk-averse to lend to e-commerce businesses, venture capital is too difficult to obtain (success rate could be as low as 0.7%) and online lenders have varying (sometimes exorbitantly high) interest rates, e-commerce financing has been a major challenge for companies aspiring for online growth.

If business funding is what you need, Choco Up is here to help.

As the leading revenue-based financing and growth platform in Asia, we offer funding ranging from US$10K to $10M to companies of all sizes. With our quick and flexible funding, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses fuel their growth and accomplish remarkable results.

To learn more about how Choco Up can help your business grow, check out our client success stories or apply for funding now!

About Choco Up

Founded in 2018, Choco Up is the leading revenue-based financing platform in Asia Pacific, offering non-dilutive growth capital to fast-growing companies. 

Currently covering more than 10 markets and 10 sectors, Choco Up has helped hundreds of businesses capture growth while protecting equity upside.

Click here to apply for RBF funding!

Ready to scale your business faster?

Choco up invests from $10K to $10M USD on a revenue share model. We'll simply take a fixed percentage of your sales until we have recouped the capital + flat fee.