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Singapore startup helps companies pivot to marketplaces during Covid-19

Techsembly, a Singapore technology startup, is securing clients worldwide after developing a Software-as-a-Service platform allowing businesses to replicate a curated and customised in-store shopping experience online.

The three entrepreneurs who founded Techsembly have a background in e-commerce and online retailing and built their own Gifts Less Ordinary marketplace into a million dollar business. They recognised a need among companies forced to pivot their business due to the Covid-19 pandemic to maintain sales at a time it may be impossible for customers to interact in person. 

 “The retail industry is at an inflection point and we are increasingly seeing the emergence of new players who are changing the rules of the game,” explains Techsembly co-founder and CEO Amy Read.

“Businesses, whether they are retailers, media or hotels, are all impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, and marketplaces have become the new normal – already accounting for more than 56 per cent of all online sales. Some industry experts are predicting that will increase to 80 per cent in the future.”

But many businesses who know they have to move online are daunted by the cost and logistics of building their own marketplace and concerned how it might integrate with their existing online experience. 

That’s where Techsembly comes in – and the company has recently sign three significant clients as customer partners: Boutique Fairs Singapore (BFS), Anglo-American fashion platform Not Just a Label, and luxury accommodation provider The Peninsula Hotel Group.

BFS is regarded as one of the leading calendar events in Singapore, taking place bi-annually at the F1 Pit Building, attracting more than 300 local designers and artisans and 37,000 visitors per event. With social-distancing requirements due to Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of the latest edition of the fair, the company recognised the need to pivot online quickly to serve both vendors and visitors. 

In a matter of weeks, BFS was able to launch an online marketplace featuring 200 local brands and 4000 products by partnering with Techsembly. 

Charlotte Cain, Founder of Boutique Fairs Singapore, said the company needed a solution that combined offline experiences with online shopping through the launch of an e-commerce marketplace immediately. 

Not Just A Label (NJAL), another Techsembly client, is a designer platform based in California and a UK-based designer showcasing and nurturing today’s pioneers in contemporary fashion. NJAL needed to pivot its business from a B2B to B2C model at the height of the pandemic. Not Just A Label operates the largest global network of contemporary fashion designers, having access to 4 million styles designed by more than 40,000 independent and emerging creative designers.

NJAL, like BFS, reacted quickly to the global crisis by adopting a new strategy to provide a capital-light and highly profitable sales channel, thus saving a generation of emerging designers and brands that were impacted by the downfall of the brick-and-mortar retail sector during the pandemic. Many designers on the NJAL platform are also now moving to ‘Made to Order’ to increase sustainability, with more than 60 per cent of items on the marketplace now carrying a made to order label. 

NJAL founder Stefan Siegel said using Techsembly’s solution allows NJAL to have multiple localised storefronts through one centralised platform, ensuring each regional storefront can be tailored to the needs of the local audience. 

Amy Read says the experiences of these companies underline the importance of moving quickly to embrace online trends and implement solutions to stay competitive. 

“This shift is not just limited to the fashion and retail industry, but many other businesses, including hotels and media outlets, are also looking to pivot and find new innovative ways to support their customers and generate additional revenue streams and value, without investing in inventory or new builds.”

The Peninsula Hotels, like many other hospitality providers, has suffered significant a decline in turnover as a result of the global pandemic closing borders and social-distancing requirements limiting events and dining out. The firm launched a marketplace solution that allows for global sales of gift cards and experiences. As a result, despite their hotels having to remain closed, they were able to generate supplementary revenue for those customers wishing to give and purchase ‘experiences’ they could look forward to.

“Marketplaces allow businesses to innovate and grow without the risk of holding stock, to support their local suppliers and replicate the mall experience online. This omnichannel approach is the future of modern retailing,” explains Read.

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