Aemi tackles social commerce challenges in Vietnam – TechCrunch

Aemi founders Hieu Nguyen and Kim Vu

Social commerce sellers can be as small as a person selling products to their followers on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. Many don’t have an online storefront and instead rely on private messages to take orders and payments. That might not seem like enough to move significant amounts of product, but in many Southeast Asian markets, social commerce sellers are a growing part of e-commerce. In fact, according to a recent Bain report, social commerce accounted for 65% of Vietnam’s $22 billion online retail economy last year.

Despite their combined retail power, many social commerce sellers cannot buy wholesale directly from brands. Instead, they rely on wholesale aggregators, but that means they may not be able to trace the provenance of their products, said Aemi co-founder and CEO Kim. Seen.

Aemi was created with CTO Hieu Nguyen to help solve supply chain challenges for social commerce sellers. By working with hundreds of social commerce sellers, it is able to buy directly from brands. Because Aemi works with hundreds of sellers, she has the buying power to negotiate lower wholesale prices than individual sellers, while guaranteeing product provenance.

Currently focused on beauty and wellness, the startup’s ultimate goal is to expand into more verticals and build a suite of backend software that will help sellers manage inventory, orders, and payments.

The startup raised $2 million in funding from Alpha JWC Ventures and January Capital, with participation from Venturra Discovery, FEBE Ventures and angel investors. The funding is used for hiring, especially product engineers to create software for Aemi’s micro-merchants.

The social commerce sellers Aemi works with are typically micro-influencers, with a follower count of around 10,000 to 30,000. Vu told TechCrunch that one of the reasons she wanted to start Aemi was that She was a social commerce enthusiast.

“I love shopping on social commerce, Facebook stores, Instagram stores and such because I trust the person so I’m sure they’ve done a really good job of breaking down the products and reviews of the content perspective,” Vu said. At the same time, when she had questions about the authenticity and source of a product, she found that many sellers could not guarantee that the products were genuine because they did not have the sales volume to develop a close relationship with brands and instead relied on wholesale aggregators. .

“I see huge demand from a consumer perspective, but also from a supply perspective,” Vu said. “Little effort has been made to increase supply chain support for this sector.”

Prior to founding Aemi, Vu spent six years as a management consultant for Bain, where she specialized in retail. This included working with global brands to increase their distribution in emerging markets. She found that they approached branding and distribution in a very traditional way, missing the growing dominance of social commerce.

“A lot of effort goes into high visibility, like brick-and-mortar stores, but people have a growing affinity for social commerce shopping, buying items online, and home delivery,” Vu said. . “From a supply chain perspective, not much has been integrated.”

As a result, many social commerce sellers not only have unreliable supply chains, but also lack the software and marketing support they need to grow their business.

Aemi also offers marketing support, which means helping sellers create memorable content. Many have carved out a niche for themselves by recommending certain types of products, like skincare or beauty products, but lack the influence of social media to win brand partnerships. Aemi helps by providing professional product photos, product descriptions and information to sellers. He also plans to build software, such as drag-and-drop storefronts, that will help sellers manage sales and inventory across multiple social media platforms.

“The people we’re reaching out to are those who would be categorized by brands into long-tail distribution,” Vu said, “but they make up the majority of social commerce volume” in Vietnam.

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