Earlier in April, South Korea’s e-commerce big introduced that it’s entering the Singapore market, which marks its first abroad foray all through its 11 years of operation.

Coupang has apparently been in search of methods to enter Singapore since final July when it acquired Singtel’s video streaming service provider Hooq Digital Ltd.

The Korean Financial Every day reported that the corporate has began hiring rounds for its Singapore entity since March.

On Glassdoor, it’s in search of Head of Operations, Head of Logistics and Head of Retail, along with different positions like Senior UX Designer, Enterprise Analyst (for Coupang Play), and Principal High quality Assurance Engineer.

Its entry to Singapore will certainly shake up the native e-commerce panorama, which is presently dominated by Tencent-backed Shopee, Alibaba-backed Lazada, and Qoo10.

This text explores the founding story of Coupang and the way it rose to turn out to be South Korea’s hottest on-line retailer.

Who’s Coupang?

Kim Bom, founding father of Coupang / Picture Credit score: Coupang

Kim Bom began Coupang again in 2010 after dropping out of Harvard Enterprise Faculty after a 12 months.

“I knew I wished to start out one thing in commerce (in Korea),” he instructed Forbes in a 2016 interview.

Coupang first began out as a Groupon-style day by day offers enterprise, earlier than evolving to be a third-party on-line market in 2013, which was very similar to eBay.

It listed third-party stock from native suppliers, providing quick supply, low costs, and a “wow” buyer expertise. 

This mannequin was successful. Inside three years, the platform crossed US$1 billion in sales and turned worthwhile.

One key issue that propelled Coupang’s reputation is its quick supply choices, which is powered by its personal 24-hour logistics enterprise known as Rocket Supply.

Customers can select from hundreds of thousands of merchandise, starting from recent produce to electronics, and go for in a single day or same-day supply.

In 2019, Coupang additional accelerated supply speeds with the launch of Daybreak Supply, which guarantees to ship by 7am for orders positioned by midnight the day earlier than.

The corporate has dedicated billions to construct and strengthen its logistics infrastructure, which incorporates warehouses, fleets of vans, and hundreds of supply drivers often known as “Coupangmen”.

He believes that when prospects get used to quick supply speeds, they’ll order extra over time, translating to elevated gross sales.

We will’t bend the purchasers to what we wish, however we will bend ourselves to what the purchasers need.

– Kim Bom, founding father of Coupang in a Forbes interview in 2016

coupang logistics centre
Coupang logistics centre / Picture Credit score: Benzinga

In keeping with Coupang, 70 per cent of Koreans dwell inside 10 minutes of a Coupang logistics centre, bridging the hole of last-mile supply.

It additionally employed its personal supply staff, placing them via coaching and aligning incentives with the corporate’s values.

By vertical integration of fulfilment and supply, Coupang was not solely in a position to ship quicker than rivals, but in addition management the expertise of their prospects, thus rising buyer satisfaction considerably.

korea e-commerce market share
Korea’s on-line retail market share (2019 vs 2020) / Picture Credit score: Maeil Enterprise Information Korea

Kim believes that the extent of element is what has helped set his enterprise aside in an exceedingly aggressive market. Whereas Amazon is just not lively in South Korea, Coupang outranked local names such as Gmarket and 11Street to be named the shoppers’ most well-liked on-line retailer in 2019.

Coupang stated that its logistics investments have paid off as 99.3 per cent of orders positioned on its website are delivered inside at some point. Coupang now delivers 3.3 million gadgets every day, up from a mean of two.2 million models per day on the finish of 2019.

It added that greater than half of all Koreans have downloaded the Coupang app.

Coupang has positively grown by slicing costs and rushing up deliveries, incomes itself the title “Amazon of South Korea”. Final 12 months, Coupang additionally ranked second on CNBC’s 2020 Disruptor 50 list of the world’s most modern corporations.

Past e-commerce, it delivers ready meals via the title Coupang Eats and provides video streaming beneath the label Coupang Play.

Covid-19 propelled an e-commerce growth

coupang delivery
Picture Credit score: Coupang

Coupang has weathered its justifiable share of challenges as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

Whereas they had been requested to remain dwelling, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans turned to on-line procuring greater than earlier than to order necessities like face masks and hand sanitizer. 

In January final 12 months, Coupang was hit with a wave of disruptions to its provide chain, costs and logistics capability, fuelled by widespread panic shopping for. On high of that, it confronted an outbreak of coronavirus cases at a warehouse close to Seoul, fuelling issues that it didn’t enact ample security measures.

Coupang maintains it offered staff with gloves and masks daily, disinfected services, in addition to applied temperature checks and “testing and tracing protocols.”

The corporate shortly managed the deluge of orders and never solely maintained service ranges, but in addition improved them in some areas, Coupang stated.

As order quantity surged, it expanded in a single day and same-day supply to extra gadgets, like consumables and recent meals. The corporate additionally opened a brand new logistics heart in March 2020, which elevated its capability to fulfil orders.

Coupang’s growth accelerated throughout 2020, from 79 per cent year-over-year within the first quarter to 100 per cent within the fourth.

In keeping with Reuters, Coupang’s day by day deliveries spiked from 2.2 million per day in late 2019 to three million per day in mid-February 2020.

Coupang goes public, now valued at over US$60B

During the last decade, Kim has raised US$3.8 billion in funding from a slew of Silicon Valley enterprise capital corporations together with SoftBank, Sequoia Capital, and BlackRock.

Behind Coupang’s sturdy development, traders had instructed Kim to take the corporate public however he felt that it wasn’t the precise time.

We needed to be trustworthy with ourselves and say when you go public, it’s a lot tougher, not less than within the near-term, to pivot or to actually change your path.

We needed to ask ourselves: ’Was the platform we had constructed, had been the companies and experiences that we had been offering for our prospects, making a 5 per cent distinction or had been we creating that form of world the place the purchasers we love, their jaws would drop?’ And the truth was no.

– Kim Bom, founding father of Coupang in CNBC’s Make It interview

So he scrapped the IPO thought and determined to rework Coupang into an end-to-end e-commerce platform. He felt {that a} huge change was needed as a way to present one thing that actually mattered to prospects.

“We needed to change our complete know-how stack, the way in which we did enterprise, our enterprise mannequin. I feel that was essentially the most tough, however the selection that I’m most happy with,” said Kim.

That call ultimately paid off. In 2018, SoftBank invested US$2 billion in Coupang, giving it a valuation of US$9 billion, which made it South Korea’s Most worthy startup.

The next 12 months, it racked up gross sales of over US$10 billion, with a 60 per cent year-on-year development.

coupang ipo
Picture Credit score: AP by way of Kyodo

Coupang lastly went public in a US$4.6 billion IPO in March on the New York Inventory Change. It’s touted as South Korea’s Most worthy startup as its market capitalisation is now at about US$67 billion, though it briefly exceeded a market worth of US$100 billion.

Kim additionally noticed his web price soar greater than sixfold after the IPO to US$6.4 billion, making him the most important gainer on this 12 months’s Korea Rich List.

Coupang’s IPO was the most important U.S. itemizing by a overseas firm since Alibaba’s debut in 2014.

Kim has stepped down amid backlash

coupang workers strike
Coupang drivers occurring strike / Picture Credit score: Kim Hong-Ji by way of Reuters

Regardless of the corporate’s reputation, it has confronted scrutiny after reviews of a number of deaths amongst supply and logistics staff who had been allegedly overworked.

Coupang is now going through a wave of consumer boycotts over its dealing with of a hearth that killed one individual and destroyed its greatest logistics centre.

Greater than 7,000 individuals have joined public petitions on South Korea’s presidential workplace web site calling for Coupang executives, together with US-based Kim, to be held accountable over office security and labour practices.

On June 17, Kim resigned because the chairman of the board and as a registered director of Coupang Corp. The corporate reasoned that Kim’s resignation was as a result of he needs “to be dedicated to international administration following the itemizing on the New York Inventory Change.”

Kim stays the CEO and board chairman of Coupang Inc. Transferring ahead, he stated that he’ll consider the corporate’s abroad companies.

Right this moment, Coupang has places of work in Beijing, Los Angeles, Seattle and Singapore and Silicon Valley, along with its Seoul headquarters.

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Featured Picture Credit score: Coupang

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