#Asia Sequoia-backed marketplace wants to bring Thai retailers online

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Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand
When I first visited Thailand not too long ago, one of the first things that hit me were the numerous open-air markets – like the huge Chatuchak market in Bangkok. Shops and market stalls of all shapes and sizes peddled a huge variety of goods, from clothes to trinkets to household items.

Thailand’s retail sector is expected to hit US$179.2 billion in 2016. Despite growing smartphone and credit card usage in the country, however, a lot of retailers haven’t jumped on the ecommerce bandwagon yet, leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

The founding duo of Thailand-based Zilingo, Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor, saw that opportunity for themselves when they visited the country on vacation. Ankiti is an ex-McKinsey consultant from Mumbai, India, who later worked for global venture capital firm Sequoia. Together with IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) graduate Dhruv, they decided to create a way for these retailers to find new customers online.

Ankiti, the startup’s CEO, was always fascinated by the startup side of the VC business, she tells Tech in Asia. After that Thailand trip, she was convinced it was time to cross over to being an entrepreneur.

Zilingo is a mobile-first online marketplace that allows merchants to list their inventory, set their prices, and fulfill online orders. Users can browse through available stores and products, then order and pay with their credit card.

Zilingo screenshots

Zilingo’s services include shipping, packaging, payment options, an analytics dashboard for mobile, order tracking, refund and cancellation options, and consultation on pricing strategy. The app also provides chat, through which a customer can get directly in touch with a merchant.

The startup doesn’t charge merchants for listing, or any other fees, providing most of its services for free. It only takes a cut out of successful sales, wanting to encourage adoption and to “only charge for things that actually add value to the [merchants’] business.”

Zilingo has only recently gone live, and is available to buyers and merchants across Thailand. Within November 2015, buyers from Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong will also have access to the platform’s Thai sellers. Other Southeast Asian countries will follow, according to the startup. There are currently over 300 sellers on the site, Ankiti says.

The company has already raised external funding, to the tune of US$1.88 million. The funding comes from Sequoia India, Teru Sato of Beenext, and Freecharge’s Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon.

“We are delighted to back Ankiti and Dhruv, a highly talented and committed founding team, in their efforts to build a mobile-first marketplace for Thailand,” says Shailendra Singh, managing director at Sequoia India. “We liked the team and their mobile-first product so much, that we agreed to invest at the concept stage. It’s early days for the company, but we’re excited about the prospects for Zilingo.”

Are you eager to shop from Thai retailers online? Do you think Zilingo has found a good way to digitize Thailand’s merchants?

This post Sequoia-backed marketplace wants to bring Thai retailers online appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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