AsmaraKu.com out to woo Indonesia’s romantics
By Masyitha Baziad January 29, 2016
- Everything online for your romantic needs, including contraceptives
- Given the intimate nature of some products, privacy a key focus
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YOU can buy anything online for just about every need these days, which means that new e-commerce ventures need to find gaps and specialise in them.
For the just-launched AsmaraKu.com, it’s about romance – everything from romantic gifts to personal care products and even more, shall we say, intimate needs.
“The e-commerce market in Indonesia is growing rapidly, however there is one category that has not been fully explored, and it is the romance market,” cofounder William Tunggadjaja said at the official launch of AsmaraKu.com in Jakarta on Jan 26.
‘Asmara ku’ means ‘my romance’ in Bahasa Indonesia. William said the romance category sits between the fashion, health and adult categories.
“We sell products which can improve someone’s romantic or love life, ranging from personal care products, flowers and lingerie, to slimming and fertility supplements and contraceptives,” added founder Grace Natalia.
AsmaraKu.com has been operating since January 2015 but was only officially launched earlier this week.
The founders met via Lazada Indonesia. Grace was with Rocket Internet, working on building the Lazada marketplace, while William was vice-president of e-commerce marketing at Lazada Indonesia.
They have also secured seed funding from JWC Alpha Ventures and IMJ Investment Partners.
While she declined to disclose the amount of funding the startup received, Grace said it would be used to increase the variety of products and improve AsmaraKu.com’s services, including rolling out an online-to-offline (O2O) distribution mechanism.
“This year, we will be focusing on building a side platform that would provide articles and information related to reproductive health and sexuality.
“Hopefully, after people read and understand such information, they can then buy products that better suit their needs,” she said.
Alpha JWC Ventures is optimistic about AsmaraKu.com, given the market potential and the portal’s specialisation.
“We decided to invest because we see AsmaraKu.com as a problem-solver,” said Alpha JWC Ventures cofounder and managing partner Jefrey Joe (pic).
“The problem is that Indonesians are not comfortable buying romantic products in general stores. If they can buy through AsmaraKu.com, then that problem is solved.
“Secondly, we believe in the founders – they have sufficient experience in the e-commerce industry and have a clear vision,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) at the sidelines of the launch.
Still, Jefrey acknowledged the challenges that lay ahead.
“The success of AsmaraKu.com will depend on how it educates people, given the segment can be quite sensitive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the AsmaraKu.com founders believe their investors are of the ‘smart money’ type, and will also help the venture with their insights on the market and their management expertise.
No sex toys!
Many dating apps end up being booty call apps, and matchmaking sites are used for one-night stands. Is AsmaraKu.com selling sex toys?
With an empathic ‘no,’ Grace said they are playing it safe by selling only products which are legal and already available in retail stores.
“In Indonesia, there is no legal umbrella for adult products, unfortunately. It’s not clear whether they can be sold or not. Everything is in a grey area. Therefore, we do not want to take any risks,” she said.
She admitted that the initial idea was to sell such adult products. However, from her experience with Lazada.co.id, she said she is fully aware that legal compliance is very important in business.
For Grace, the most important thing is to tell people that romantic and personal products do exist in Indonesia, and there is a fully legal avenue which guarantees confidentiality and the privacy of its customers.
Privacy button, physical locker
As the founders were keen to stress, privacy is a key area for AsmaraKu.com, given the personal and sometimes intimate nature of its products.
The portal features a ‘privacy button’ on its homepage. Once the button is clicked, the computer screen will be diverted to other images that are completely unrelated to AsmaraKu.com.
In addition, when a consumer buys a product, there will be no AsmaraKu.com logo on it. The product is wrapped in plain paper. Bills can be sent separately via email too.
For its delivery service, AsmaraKu.com is cooperating with digital locker provider PopBox. When customers opt for this service, they will be given a code to open the locker.
“With PopBox, consumers can receive their goods at a location they prefer, so that they can feel comfortable picking them up,” said William.
Focus on domestic market
Currently, AsmaraKu.com prefers to focus on the domestic market before considering an overseas expansion.
In its nearly one year in operation, AsmaraKu.com has delivered goods to almost all parts of Indonesia, and the domestic potential is still very large, according to Grace.
“People in rural places find difficulty getting supplement, beauty and fertility products because of limited stocks or high prices – this is a market opportunity we do not want to miss,” she said.
Grace and William are determined to win the domestic market by providing quality, genuine products.
“We became the direct distributor of the products we sell so that we can guarantee their authenticity,” said William.
Meanwhile, despite its domestic focus, AsmaraKu.com is also getting orders from overseas customers, according to Grace.
“We did not expect orders from Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. We certainly do not reject their requests.
“We continue to serve these customers – they are a good measure of our ability to expand the business overseas in the future,” she added.
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