Ebizu on regional mission to digitalise retail sector: Page 2 of 2
By Gabey Goh July 31, 2014
Building end-to-end solutions
The recent launch of Ebizu beacon and Shop Smart Solution ties in with the company’s existing offerings, which include the Ebizu Business Centre (EBC), a one-stop centre that provides an array of business tools to help merchants understand and communicate with their customers.
Lim says that the Shop Smart Solution is essentially a white label EBC geared towards retailers, which merchants can leverage to not only track in-store visitors, but also push out promotions of updates to users via the company’s Manis app.
Manis (Malay for ‘sweet’), is Ebizu’s consumer-facing app, which offers users access to a merchant directory listing, location-based promotions and special offers.
Lim says that the app has about 5,000 users and is still growing. In terms of number of merchants, the directory boasts 6,000 listings. The number of Premium merchants, which Ebizu works with to deliver targeted offers, currently stands at 60, all within the Klang Valley.
Plans are underway to roll out marketing initiatives aimed at boosting the profile and user base of Manis. These initiatives are expect to hit the market later this year.
For merchants wanting to sign up, the company offers a range of tiered options which start with a free plan with limited features to a Pro-level plan which includes hardware in the form of a point-of-sale (POS) system.
Its most popular plan is the 'Advanced' one which offers full access to software solutions by Ebizu for RM199, including one iPad mini with stand and Ebizu Engager, which allows users to check in at a store automatically via their app.
Lim says that the use of a subscription model for merchants is indicative of the Ebizu team’s telecommunications “background and mentality.”
“Our highest priced plan is about RM499 a month and comes with cash registers and card readers, along with access to our loyalty programme Manis. It is a two-year contract with no capital expenditure involved for merchants, and is also suitable for micro-enterprises as our POS system is GST-ready,” he adds, referring to the Goods and Services Tax which kicks in next year in Malaysia.
He says that contract renewal will come with a hardware refresh at no cost to the merchant. On the backend, the company works with a leasing partner to determine the costs at scale.
Making digital retail a reality
Ebizu’s range of solutions is an impressive one for a company that, for all intents and purposes, was only incorporated in the middle of 2013.
To date, the startup has raised US$1.5 million in funding over two rounds, a pre-seed round in mid-2013 for US$500,000 and a seed round of US$1 million this year – the bulk of which has been channelled toward product development and team expansion.
Lim declines to share the names of his investors, a collection of angels across Malaysia and Indonesia, but shares that a major investor is a well-known Indonesian who lays claim to being one of that country’s 20 richest.
He acknowledges the recent trend of raising as much funding as possible over raising when needed, but says Ebizu has opted for the more traditional model of raising funding only when required.
“We asked for this million and got it. The money is of course in stages, and we will draw down when needed. We also manage our funding and think we do it well, spending wisely without unnecessary expenses, which is important to gain the trust of our investors.
“We also have this amount committed and our investors have said to ‘just ask’ if we need more,” he claims.
Lim says that the company is very clear on the numbers it needs to achieve, with business and revenue generation very close to becoming a reality.
“That’s the reason we asked for the funding; it gives us a 12-month runway to execute and establish our revenue streams,” he adds.
Lim’s entry into the company also marked its shift from development to market deployment, with Ebizu now 28-strong, including 13 people based in Jakarta mainly in product development, and the rest in Malaysia focused on marketing, sales and operations.
“I came in essentially to help with formulating the business model and we are also putting together a full-scale customer service and operations team. Since April till today, we’ve been focused on trying to get an understanding of merchants, fine-tuning our offerings, and establishing distribution partners,” he adds.
Partner and customer announcements are expected in the coming months, with the company already working with a couple of malls and a hypermarket to implement its solutions in-store.
“I can’t give exact names now and the announcements will be made by our customers, but by late August to mid-September you can expect the news to be out by at least one customer, which will possibly be the first mall in South-East Asia to implement beacon technology,” Lim says.
The company is also working with a Malaysian telco operator to offer Ebizu’s POS solution via a bundled package, with details expected to be announced sometime in September.
“We’ve also started initial business development in Indonesia, and have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Indosat under its Mentari brand which gives us access to about 13 million subscribers,” says Lim, adding that a commercial launch should be sometime in the last quarter of the year.
He claims that Ebizu has also received significant interest within region, especially in Thailand where the company is already in discussion with a “strong partner” and proprietor of a large retail chain.
“We have a focus on emerging markets within South-East Asia with a large population base, hence why we’re skipping a market like Singapore. The Philippines will be our next stop and we’ve already begun the initial groundwork for partnerships.
“All that should keep us busy for a while, on top of what’s already in the pipeline for Ebizu. The main challenge now is the need to figure out how to rescale to deploy and duplicate our solutions across markets,” he adds.
While he admits Malaysia, with its population of 30 million, doesn’t quite fit the company’s own criteria of a massive domestic market, as a Malaysian-founded startup it is a point of pride for the team to be able to “prove ourselves in our own backyard.”
In the meantime, for those curious about Ebizu, the company will be making its “public debut” with an exhibit at the SME Solutions Expo 2014 taking place Aug 13-15 at the MidValley Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
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